FW: technical background

Subject: FW: technical background
From: "Delaney, Misti" <ncr02!ncr02!mdelaney -at- UCS01 -dot- ATTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 1995 16:29:00 -0500

From: Price, Becca
Subject: RE: technical background
Date: Wednesday, September 06, 1995 10:07AM

As in everything else, so much depends... My area of expertise is in asking
questions - and then smerging the resulting information so that I can
communicate it in a form the user needs. I can't imagine writing a sentence
like "the Spritzing feature allows you to spritz the sprocket" - to me,
that's more symptomatic of a lazy writer rather than an unknowledgable one.
I'd go and find out what spritzing is, why you do it, when it needs to be
done, who should do it, etc. and then I'd write that in my opening
paragraph(s). I once spent a year writing training modules for a UNIX
system - and I've never even used UNIX. I was told that my modules were
very good, because there were no assumptions of prior knowledge.

now I was writing beginners modules, mind you, not the high-level ones that
required expert knowledge and experience. I know my limits. But through
time, use, and writing projects, I have become fairly well educated in a
number of wildly divergent topics (I can still talk relatively knowledgeably
about the process of polishing silicon disks before they're turned into
computer memory chips... couldn't tell you how that's done, and I"m sure
polishing techniques have improved in the last 10 years, but I still
remember the principles...) and on some of those topics I can pass myself
off as an expert - much to my amazment and chagrin. (it's terrible for a
devout and fundamentalist generalist to find she's an expert in

>I used to think that a good technical writer could write about anything
without needing >to understand it,

no, no, no! I can *learn* about almost anything in order to write about
it... This is very different from my perspective of the level of expertise
needed in a topic in order to write about it. I can't teach what I don't
know. but I can learn.

-becca price
"An-n-nd, (s)he can be taught!" - the Geni in Aladdin.
(well, most stuff - I still can't spell.)

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