Perspective on Technology

Subject: Perspective on Technology
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 15:03:47 -0700

Okay - this is pushing the limits of technical documentation topic, but I see a
hell of a lot of tech writers doing this (here and elsewhere) and it really
torques my knob. Mostly, I think this issue is indicative of something in
technical communication:

"Everything Microsoft sucks."

I am sorry gang, but just because MS makes it does not mean it sucks. MS makes
some awesome products and has single-handedly defined many of the concepts,
ideas, and structures of modern computing technology. No, they are not perfect
but neither are you.

It is just stupid and small-minded to see the entire universe of MS as some
dark force that is after your light saber.

However, my real point here is about perspectives. Part of being a good writer
is being able to comprehend and appreciate things from many different
perspectives. Just because a particular technology does not conform to your
*personal* specifications of perfection, does not mean that technology beholds
some inherent flaw. Likewise, just because something is big and popular does
not mean it is evil and therefore must be crushed.

There are plenty of technologies out there (Furbies come to mind) that are, in
my opinion, a complete waste of space. However, I respect the fact that some
people like these things and they serve a function to different people. Just
because I hate Furbies does not mean I think all who own Furbies are idiots.
Furbies simply do not fulfill my needs.

I am reminded of a writer who thought nothing of putting derisive remarks about
Microsoft (and other companies) in his marketing documentation. I warned him to
remove it because it was opinionated and inappropriate for documentation.
Fortunately, the powers that be were smart enough to catch this crap before it
was published and removed it from the docs.

My last point. There is a whopping big difference between these sentences:

"This product does not meet our needs."
"This product is crap and I would never use it."

One is the outcome of an honest evaluation. Another is an opinion. Since all
things are ultimately subjective, what you say and how you say it says as much
about your abilities as that big impressive manual you just wrote.

And with that, I am going to crawl away before those Furbies get me.

Andrew Plato
President / Principal Consultant
Anitian Consulting, Inc.

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