Re: Ladies and gentlemen, I... er...

Subject: Re: Ladies and gentlemen, I... er...
From: "Elna Tymes" <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
To: "Mark L. Levinson" <markl -at- gilian -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 11:04:34 -0800


John Posada playfully suggested the exercise with the jar of peanut butter.
Actually, you could do the same thing with groups of 2-4 people where one
person has to instruct another how to tie a shoe lace using only words (no
gestures) and keeping his eyes closed; the other has to follow the instructions
explicitly, and no comments are allowed. That's good for about 3 minutes, and
it will set the stage as to why good documentation, in one form or another, is

You could point out that software products - and hardware products, usually -
are not considered legitimate in today's market unless there is some form of
documentation, and usually paper-based at that. Even a new washer or dryer
comes with a User's Guide.

You can then point out how docs and customer support work together, and how
each helps the other. You can also tell some anonymous war stories (from your
experience in other companies, of course) about how difficult it was to get
good source material while the product was in development, which should point
up why the collaborative effort is so important.

And you could point out why one of the first questions a writer asks on a new
project is "Who's the audience?"

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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