Re: Assumption of Knowledge

Subject: Re: Assumption of Knowledge
From: Bill Burns <WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 1995 16:48:48 MDT

I think the whole point of the issue is not whether a writer fully understands
the work he or she documents at first but whether or not the writer can become
knowledgeable enough about it. I work for a semiconductor manufacturer. Before
I began here, I knew little about the process that goes into making DRAMs and
SRAMs. (Heck, I didn't really understand the difference between those two
devices.) That's changed considerably since I started. However, I do not have
the time to go and train on every piece of equipment that the Assembly
department purchases and uses. Neither do the engineers. They usually
specialize in one very specific process or a series of related machines. If
I had to specialize that much (and it really isn't necessary for me to do so
to accomplish my job), I'd be out of work within a couple of weeks.

Software documentation is very different from manufacturing technical writing--
in some ways. One is that software can be manipulated (often) on the piece of
equipment that you use to do your documentation. If I want to test the
operation of a piece of equipment, I have to go somewhere else to do it, or I
have to ask A LOT of questions. (I do both.) I never actually use the
equipment to do what it's made to do (and I think ISO prefers it that way).

Bill Burns *
Assm. Technical Writer/Editor * "Purgamentum init,
Micron Technology, Inc. * exit purgamentum."
Boise, ID *
WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM * Henricus Barbatus


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