Using software your clients propos

Subject: Using software your clients propos
From: Peter Kent <71601 -dot- 1266 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 1995 10:24:44 EST

Okay, folks. This is really interesting. What great politicianssome of us
would make!Now you KNOW that if your assignment was to develop aquestionnaire,
and one of the questions on that questionnairewas "can you" do anything, as
good technical writers you'd flagthat and ask the client, "What exactly do you
mean by thisquestion? There are several ways in which it can
beinterpreted."But, noooooo. In an interview situation when asked with the
samevague question, we interpret it how we wish and answeraccordingly. In all
likelihood, the interviewer *meant* "do youknow how to" do something, but
being the masters of languagethat we are, we ignore that probability and
answer to out bestadvantage. Guerilla marketing at its finest.No flames are
intended here. I think it's very clever. But let'snot kid ourselves to what is
actually going on.
=*= Beverly Parks -- bparks -at- huachuca-emh1 -dot- army -dot- mil =*=
=*= Huachuca : That's pronounced "wah-CHEW-ka" =*=
=*= "Unless otherwise stated, all comments are my own. =*=
=*= I am not representing my employer in any way."


You are right, of course. We are allowing language to work for us. Guerilla
marketing if you wish--but an interview is not a technical manual. What we are
doing is attempting to bypass people who are trying to hire technical writers
without really understanding what is required to do the job. In many cases the
person interviewing the potential contractor is not even the person who will
be managing the project--he may have been given a check list, and is simply
going down the list, one question after another. (I've worked on projects that
bore little resemblance to the original checklist!)

I haven't seen anyone suggest that writers should say they can do jobs that
they can't. That would be pointless. Not only would it be dishonest, but it
wouldn't do them much good, as eventually they'd fail at the project. What we
are suggesting is that you put your "best foot forward." If you know you can
use a product, say you can. I have used Word Perfect now and again, but
probably not in the past five years. But I've used literally hundreds of
different computer programs over the last 15 years. I know I can pick up the
essentials of Word Perfect in less than an hour, and be proficient in a few
more hours. If someone asks if I can use WP, I'm not lying when I say yes!

Peter Kent

E-mail from: Peter Kent, 03-Nov-1995

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