Re: Help - my consultants cannot write!

Subject: Re: Help - my consultants cannot write!
From: Edwin Skau <eddy -dot- skau -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Michael West <mike -dot- west -at- bigpond -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 23:25:49 +0530

Mike,

I was alluding to translating from geek speak to reporting language. There
are specialists out there who make perfect sense to others of their ilk, but
cannot
write for outsiders. I see this sort of difficulty arise in communication
between technical writers and technical folk. Technical folk often have a
bigger problem communicating with writers than they do with other technical
people. That's because one audience type is familiar, and the other is not.
One type thinks like
them, the other does not. With one type of listener, the penny drops easily;
with the other, you sometimes need to bang it in with a hammer.

This has nothing to do with foreign languages or working with dimwits.
Knowing Andrew only through his posts here, he doesn't come across as
someone who would employ dimwits or incompetent resources. It seems to be
just a matter of adding new skills. Some pick them up fairly well, others
don't. That depends on aptitude and motivation. There are technical writers,
for example, who start off armed with little more than enthusiasm, but
manage to pick up a lot along the way.

I have worked with folks who were damned good at what they did, but didn't
write too well. Different things worked for different folks--templates,
canned text, training. I find it personally gratifying to work with folks
like that, and to watch their bulb light up. When I need to use an external
training service, however,I like to go with someone or some system that
imparts critical rhetorical strategies. Specialists are more goal-oriented
than others. Given an understanding of the rhetorical situation (audience,
purpose, scope), types of information, their structure, and intended import,
they are capable of communicating quite effectively.

This has been my experience, others may have had different experiences.

Edwin

On Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 4:06 PM, Michael West <mike -dot- west -at- bigpond -dot- com> wrote:

> I’m sorry, your comments don’t (to me) make sense in relation to the
> original post. This is not about translation or ESL according to Andrew
> Plato’s comments. No mention was made of problems with the English language
> generally. The issue as I understand it is about writing clearly and
> succinctly, and that can only follow from thinking clearly. ****
>
> ** **
>
> As for what you call the “wiring” of the brain, I know nothing about that,
> but I do know that the overarching purpose of formal education is to teach
> people how to think clearly and express themselves clearly. At least it used
> to be – God knows what they think they’re doing nowadays. My personal view
> that is that many teachers are not all that capable of thinking clearly;
> they are too loaded up with dubious ideological baggage and political
> correctness. (Disclaimer: I’m married to a teacher who is a notable
> exception to this generality.)****
>
> --****
>
> Mike West****
>
> ** **
>
> *From:* Edwin Skau [mailto:eddy -dot- skau -at- gmail -dot- com]
> *Sent:* Monday, 10 October 2011 6:04 PM
> *To:* Michael West
> *Cc:* techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
>
> *Subject:* Re: Help - my consultants cannot write!****
>
> ** **
>
> > Clear writing requires clear thinking. Well-educated people can
> > write clearly and succinctly. ****
>
> ** **
>
> True. However, they probably think clearly in a different language, and
> don't translate that into English very well. ****
>
> ****
>
> > People who haven't developed that skill by the****
>
> > time they finish their education probably never will.****
>
> Also generally true, although I've seen people pick up skills late in life
> that their mental OS didn't originally seem to provide for. The old thinking
> on this subject believed that the brain couldn't be rewired, but that has
> changed in the face of new evidence to the contrary.****
>
> ** **
>
> Edwin****
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> On Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 5:45 AM, Michael West <mike -dot- west -at- bigpond -dot- com>
> wrote:****
>
> > I am in desperate need of tech writer training for my consultants. I
> > have a bunch of information security consultants who cannot write. Its
> > infuriating. I edit their material and I want to wring their necks.
> > They blather and yammer on about this and that - I need to teach these
> > people how to succinctly express complex ideas and write reports.****
>
> Forget it. Clear writing requires clear thinking. Well-educated people can
> write clearly and succinctly. People who haven't developed that skill by
> the
> time they finish their education probably never will.
>
> You could try sending them to your local Info Mapping franchise to help
> them
> learn to organise their blather. Well-organised blather often passes for
> clear writing. A small percentage of them will benefit from the course.
>
> My memory may be faulty, but I seem to remember a certain discussion in
> this
> forum, a while back, in which one contributor maintained that "everyone
> knows how to write" and that the most important consideration in technical
> communication is how much the writer knows about the subject matter. Has
> that person changed his mind, or have I imagined the whole thing?
> --
> Mike West****
>
>
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>
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References:
Re: Help - my consultants cannot write!: From: Michael West
Re: Help - my consultants cannot write!: From: Edwin Skau
RE: Help - my consultants cannot write!: From: Michael West

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