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Ooh boy, this is gonna be good. Now we get to have a big fight about whether
'tis better to to have technical knowledge first, then learn to write, or
learn to write, then acquire technical knowledge. (Didn't we have an argument
about this around 6 months ago?)
So which is better? IT DEPENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have an MA in technical writing, and, while I admit that my grasp of
some of the more technical aspects of my subject (I write about switching
systems) is weak, my interviewing skills, and ability to comprehend put me
just enough ahead of my users to be able to tell them how to do it, but not
so far ahead that I'm either contemptuous of them or tell them more than they
want to know. My audience is NOT technical people. They just want to know how
to do it, and as I find out how to do it, I ask many of the same questions my
On the other hand, if you're documenting highly technical subjects for a highly
technical audience, you NEED a thorough understanding of the subject.
I have encountered engineers who were horrible writers. I have also encountered
English majors who were horrible writers. But I think that anyone who's really
getting hot under the collar about this subject had better count to ten and
forget it. We won't solve it here, and we'll just get all cranky.
merhar -at- edsvcs -dot- switch -dot- rockwell -dot- com