Re: Scalding vat of liquid tungsten, please (was Educating Rita)

Subject: Re: Scalding vat of liquid tungsten, please (was Educating Rita)
From: Melonie Holliman <melonie -dot- holliman -at- TXEXMTA4 -dot- AMD -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 08:48:19 -0500

> Howdy,
> This is where I will argue with Andrew. As a technical writer, I believe
> I have a completely unique view point. Engineers are wonderful
> at making something work. Most of the time, they could care less
> why they need to make it work (there are always exceptions).
> As a technical writer, I can watch the pain an engineer goes through
> to make something happen. I can also see the problems a user
> might have. Most engineers appreciate this view point (just as I
> appreciate feedback on my manuals). I am surprised at how many
> times I have said, "how do you think a user would like this?" and
> the engineer looks at me blankly. Most engineers focus on trying to
> solve a problem, not on how people will use the tool.
> I think part of this is semantics. It sounds like Andrew does the exact
> same things I do, he is just more subtle. And when it comes to letting
> someone know something is wrong with their baby, tact is ALWAYS
> necessary and subtlety is often required. And if they don't listen,
> they don't listen. Why should I waste my time beating my head against
> a stone wall? The last place I worked I did stamp my foot a bit about
> one problem. They decided not to fix it. Then the tech support calls
> sky-rocketed. Needless to say, the next time they considered my input.
> This is one of the main reasons I enjoy tech writing. I am a balance
> of the artistic and the technical. I get to delve into technology while
> also studying people. I grew up in a technical family then went to
> school in the liberal arts. I'm perfect for this type of job. I bring a
> unique point of view to my company. Now, my company can choose
> to take advantage of that or not. I offer it; if they don't want it, I let
> it go.
> Melonie R. Holliman
> Technical Writer
> CPD Marketing
> Advanced Micro Devices
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew Plato [SMTP:intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com]
> This is where the whole "advocate for the user" concept breaks down.
> The
> "user-advocacy" concept assumes that you as a tech writer have some
> unique
> vision into the mind of users. The truth, you have no better vision
> than the
> next guy - engineers included. There are plenty of cases where what
> seems like
> a stupid UI decision actually makes sense once you understand the
> engineer's
> intentions behind the design. Therefore, in a rush to defend the
> tender
> sensibilities of the user, it is easy to forget to ask a simple
> question - "why
> did you do that?"

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