RE: Documentation Architect vs. Technical Expert !

Subject: RE: Documentation Architect vs. Technical Expert !
From: "John Posada" <JPosada -at- isogon -dot- com>
To: <dan -dot- gallagher -at- pulsartech -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 10:05:37 -0500

>How can I possibly know about this stuff, when
>these engineers are world renowned experts on
>it? How can I possibly be viewed as worthy of
>doing this documentation? Sorry, but I'm
>feeling somewhat vulnerable at this point. I
>would like to keep up with things and be viewed
>as competent. But I have no knowledge of Frequency
>shift keying or Power-Line Carrier. How can I
>even begin to be worthy in their eyes, when these
>experts have been at it since before I was born?

Hi, Dan.

Don't compete with them on their terms...change the rules.

They may be world-renowned on power relay stuff. The may have gazillions
of years of past experience. They may have the Nobel Peace Prize in
Power Transmissions. So what? It's too late to get a PhD in power
transmission, so look to where your strengths are.

You have something they don't have. The skill to take knowledge and
present it best. By this, I don't really mean taking text and rewriting
the text. I mean taking information that they might only think to
present as a paper/PDF document and going to them saying "ya'know,
presenting the information this way is ok, I guess, but if we presented
it this other way, it would be so much more useful and at the same time,
would call attention to ...." Think along the lines of help systems,
knowledge databases, webs, process flowcharts, etc. If you cannot
contribute to create new knowledge, then contribute to presenting the
existing knowledge in better ways.

The only thing that disturbs me in your post is the part "When I hear
about some consultant designing help or whatever, I get nervous that I
don't know enough.". Since you cannot contribute to their knowledge, you
must contribute to making that knowledge more accessible. This is a tool
that must be part of your toolbox, along with all the other techniques
for distributing information. Get a tool, get a document, and convert
the document using the tool. (This is as I'm looking for training, I
keep coming back to's an information distribution method I
don't know yet.)

They didn't hire you to be a Power-Line Carrier communications expert.
They hired you to be a documentation expert. You owe it to them to be
the best documentation expert you can be. They already have enough
Power-Line Carrier communications experts.

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer
Isogon Corporation

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