RE: Creativity and Single Sourcing

Subject: RE: Creativity and Single Sourcing
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Sean -at- Quodata -dot- Com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 14:20:46 -0400

I cannot attend the Single Source Summit.

However, a single-source doc (define doc as you will) sees all the
creativity up front. Thereafter, writers must adhere to the format of the
doc. Period. Yes, I suppose one can begin "it was a dark and stormy night .
." and still fit within the style . . . but, c'mon. What are we really
talking about?

Do you want your fire department to fight each fire in a separate way for
the sole purpose of expressing some "creative" urge? Do you want an airline
pilot to be free to express themselves with creativity in takeoff and
landing? We are writing technical publications, here, not "Biggles Goes to
Poetry Class."

Sure, if you want to call your chaotic technique of interviewing "creative,"
go to town. But, after the style is settled and the writing begins, it's
time to think less about creativity and more about getting the book done.

What I mean is, you can play games with where you want to believe creativity
fits into the process of writing technical documentation, but the reality is
that you are not free to be as creative as Lewis Caroll (one would think
;?), Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or J.R.R. Tolkein . . .. If you need that,
get a hobby. Single sourcing, especially, illustrates my point.

All the best.

sean -at- quodata -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: garret -dot- h -dot- romaine -at- exgate -dot- tek -dot- com
> [SMTP:garret -dot- h -dot- romaine -at- exgate -dot- tek -dot- com]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 1:30 PM
> Subject: RE: Creativity and Single Sourcing
> At the Single Source Summit yesterday in San Mateo, Ginny Redish addressed
> the idea of creativity with regards to single sourcing.
> Some of the managers in attendance felt that asking writers to be rigorous
> with styles, tags, and format might be tough to set up, as it could, well,
> stifle creativity.
> Her thought was that with single sourcing (or database publishing, or
> content management, whichever you prefer to call it) writing should be
> divorced from format issues where creativity sometimes creeps in
> unintended.
> After all, she pointed out, writers aren't just paid for their prose.
> They're also paid to be creative in investigating the needs of the user
> and
> the goals of the publication. The reason we make a good living is that we
> are adept at determining what the user requires, and then following
> through.
> So with single sourcing, writers should be freed up to pay a lot more
> attention to some of the bigger issues.

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