Tech *writer* vs *tech* writer

Subject: Tech *writer* vs *tech* writer
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 1996 16:35:56 -0800

>A good technical writer communicates technically complex information using
>terminology and style appropriate for the target audience. That is the
>essence of the profession.

Sometimes writers who are technically savvy have a hard time understanding
naive users, but so do technically naive writers. The solution to that is
usability testing.

The big problem with using a technically naive writer to achieve greater
empathy with the naive user is depth. If I don't understand any more about
the subject than I write in the manual, I'm in danger of making big mistakes
out of little misunderstandings. I'll probably also miss overall organizing
themes that would make the manual easier to use and understand. And I'll
have a hard time recognizing and filling the inevitable gaps in the
information that comes from the technical experts.

This doesn't mean that it's impossible for a technically naive writer to
write good technical documents. It's just harder, and it requires a lot more
support. ...RM

Richard Mateosian http://www.c2.org/~srm/ President, Berkeley STC
Freelance Technical Writer srm -at- c2 -dot- org Review Editor, IEEE Micro


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