Re: Tracking off

Subject: Re: Tracking off
From: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 10:55:05 -0500

Andrew Plato wrote

> Therefore, why assume anything. Why not just hand the reader as much as
> you can. You can lead an audience to enlightenment but you can't make
> them productive.

<vicious personal attack>
At last! the explantion we have been looking for! Andrew is a conehead.
"Consume vast quantities!"
</vicious personal attack>

The statement Andrew makes is nonsense, of course. "As much as you can" is
limited only be exhaustion. There is always something else that can be said.
The art is say only that which interests your audience. To lack that art is
to be a bore. Anyone who has listened to a bore knows that they say nothing
of interest. Not even, it seems, by accident. You can't just say everything
you can think of and hope someone will wait patiently until you happen to
blurt out the thing that interests them.

I would hate to eat at a restaurant run on Andrew's principles. Nothing
would be cooked, since that would require audience analysis. The waiter
would simply dump the entire contents of the pantry on your table and leave
you to sift through for something edible.

<exasperated rant>
And, for the thosandth time (or so its seems this month), audiences do not
want to be enlightened, they want to be productive. If you can't write in a
way that helps audiences be productive, you have no business in the
profession.
</exasperated rant>

<even more exasperated rant>
It seems we have now invented a new form of rationalization to mask laziness
or incompetence in technical writers. For a long time it has been the
I'm-a-writer-so-I-can-write-about-anything rationalization for not learning
you subject matter. Now its the
if-I'm-technically-accurate-I-don't-need-to-consider-my-audience
rationalization for not learning about your audience.

Wrong on both counts, folks. You have to do both. You have to know your
stuff and know it well. And you have to know your audience and know them
well. No excuses. No shortcuts. This is a difficult profession. Justify you
paychecks. Stop making excuses and get on with it.
</even more exasperated rant>

There. I feel better now. All requests for apologies will be promptly
honored.





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