Re: Quality, Documentation and Mental Blocks

Subject: Re: Quality, Documentation and Mental Blocks
From: Arthur Elser <aelser -at- USWEST -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 07:49:15 -0700

The "but I?m an artist" position taken by many writers and programmers
doesn?t have to be a negative one in opposition to the "but you?re just
a hack who turns out lock-step products" one. (I?ll stick with the
writer, since that?s what TECHWR-L is about.)

Once good task and user analyses are complete and a content
specification is written--if you follow JoAnn Hackos?s model--the writer
can exercise all the art he or she can bring to the keyboard. I think
the writer has a better opportunity to be creative and practice the art
of writing when the process defines the result more completely. Many
poets will argue that writing in a particular form, the sonnet for
example, makes for better verse.

Part of the organization?s quality model should be usability testing of
both product and documentation, and that testing will show whether the
writer?s art has accomplished what it set out to do, that is, provide
the best possible documentation given time and resource constraints.

If the writer isn?t really sure what the target is, the writing is more
likely to be fuzzy and ineffective. Given an exact description of the
audience, user tasks, and work environment, the writer can practice the
art of writing, be creative, and still satisfy the quality needs of the

Art Elser (303) 965-8425
Information Developer aelser -at- uswest -dot- com
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you
in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
Illusions Richard Bach, or

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