Who's the author?

Subject: Who's the author?
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 00:41:04 -0800

>Is the author of a document the person who provides the technical content
>OR is it the person who edits the grammar and does all the formatting?

I don't know what you mean by "provides the technical content." By the time
I finish writing a manual I own the technical content. Someone else may have
written the program or designed the hardware, but I understand and believe
every word in my manual.

Sometimes I work in unfamiliar areas where I can't possibly know as much as
the people I wring the information out of. Nonetheless, by the time I'm done
I have a possibly simplified but complete and working mental model of the
situation, and that's what I write about. If the model turns out to be
oversimplified or wrong, that comes out in the ongoing dialog with the
technical people. We iterate until I get it right.

When I'm done, I can defend every word, and I have no doubt about who the
author is. I'm the author.

Occasionally I ghost write scientific papers. That's a different situation.
But I can't imagine writing a manual and not understanding every word of it.

Richard Mateosian Technical Writer in Berkeley CA srm -at- c2 -dot- org

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