Re: Finding the Right Technical Writer - a URL

Subject: Re: Finding the Right Technical Writer - a URL
From: Mark Magennis <markmagennis -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 05:50:12 -0800

---Lois Patterson <lois -at- DOWCO -dot- COM> wrote:
> I found a guide to hiring the right technical writer at this site:
> I thought it was interesting that the author sees writing ability as
> only 20% of what is required

I think it's interesting that the author has divided these skills up
into percentages that mean nothing.

1. Just what is 20% supposed to mean in this context? And what does
the subtle difference between 20% for writing and 25% for vision tell
us? Nothing at all as far as I can see. Pure obfuscation.

2. The use of percentages suggests that a culmulative score can be
used to grade a candidate. This implies that writing skill is not
absolutely necessary, since you can still score 80% without having any.

3. To me, this is bad information, very much akin to the
counter-examples Edward Tufte uses in his books (The Visual Display of
Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, and etc.).
Technical communicators would do well to think about this. It's the
same as using a numbered list for a set of items that has no intended
ordering, positional, or quantitative aspect. Like the paragraph
numbering in this message. It's redundant categorisation.


Mark Magennis | Information Developer
FM Systems Ltd. |
Leopardstown Office Park | Tel: +353 (0)1 295 2549
Foxrock, Dublin 18 | Fax: +353 (0)1 295 2554
Ireland | markmagennis -at- yahoo -dot- com
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