Re: "Two-track" documentation

Subject: Re: "Two-track" documentation
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 03:35:14 -0800 (PST)

Tom Murrell wrote:

> if you don't take
> the audience into account, you are no writer. Yes, you want to write
> technically accurate information in a clear and concise manner, but if you
> aren't writing it TO someone, you are, at best, wasting your time, because
> no one will be reading it.

Things NOT being said at the Jet Propulsion Lab these days:

Buck, the Mission Commander: "Jim, I suppose you heard that the Mars Lander
rammed into the Mars polar cap at 10,900 mph."

Jim, the tech writer: "Yeah, I saw it all on CNN. Sorry, I was away at the
'How to care for your tender audience' seminar."

Buck: "Well, we figured out that because you wrote the wrong numbers in this
mission plan, the lander accelerated and nose dived into the ground."

Jim: "Yeah, that sucks. Can I get an upgrade for FrameMaker?"

Buck: "However, this mission plan sure does address me as an experienced
mission commander well. I am really impressed how you left out all that stuff
about confirming the details, etc. I sure didn't need to know that."

Jim: "Thanks."

Buck: "Here, have a big raise. With tech writers like you here at JPL, we can
look forward to more well formatted documents that will ensure we can't ever
get to Mars."

Jim: "Wow! Thanks Buck. Can I implement some more methodologies?"

Buck: "Oh sure, we've got plenty of money to spend on that important stuff.
We'll just scrap this International Space Station thing. Keep up the good work.
You sure are a true writer!"


Sorry, but I like to write geeky manuals and I spend 98% of my writing energy
making sure what I write is technically accurate.

If you think accuracy is not important in tech writing - please don't ever take
a job in the airline, food processing, nuclear weapons, or ... well, just don't
take a job. I really do not want to be at the mercy of documentation that is
well targeted to the right audience, but WRONG!

Andrew Plato

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