Do techies really know what other techies need?

Subject: Do techies really know what other techies need?
From: Sella Rush <SellaR -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 13:30:56 -0800

I have this problem...

Most of my work involves writing technical stuff--manuals, informational
brochures, tech overviews--for technical people (our product is a
database engine that programmers use to create applications from). I've
gotten a good response from my attempts to translate complex material,
but I *do* tend to tone things down a bit. After all, no matter how
expert a person is, they will always prefer to read (i.e., actually will
read) something that is clearly written and doesn't make them have to
decipher what it is we're trying to tell them.

My problem is that the programmer I work most closely with despises all
my tries at making text more accessible. (I really don't think it's all
my problem because he's the only one that complains--but he's the
important one). His stock response is "they're programmers, they'll
understand what I'm saying." He also hates anything that might sound
like a sell--and simpler language sounds like a sell to him (I think
because it tends to clearly show cause and effect and tries to build
from one sentence to anther to a overal point--techniques common to
persuasive writing. Now, to a certain extent he's right in that
technical info shouldn't be broken down to it's lowest level, and
sometimes this is a fine line. But I'm sick and tired of having all my
suggestions discounted because he's a techie and knows what techies want
and what they don't want is a lot of clear writing that might insult
their intelligence.

So, does anyone have any clever techniques for dealing with this
argument? BTW--he really does *not* appreciate discussions about good
writing technique.

Thanks in advance!
Sella Rush
Applied Technical Systems, Inc. (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington USA
Developers of the CCM Database

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