Saturday, May 10, 2014

Technically Speaking

technical writer is a professional writer who engages in technical writing and produces technical documentation for technical, business, and consumer audiences. According to Wikipedia, this defines the profession as preparing information that helps users who use a product.

When, however, does the technical writer stop informing the user and begin to confuse them? Is there a limit to just how technical the writer needs to get? Are they really trying to inform or simply impress the reader? Sometimes the simplest of directions can turn into a highly advanced intelligent quotient exam.

Last week I was reading an overview of forecasting in the manual for the software that the company I work for uses. I shall not name it but it rhymes with Snoracle. I was looking for helpful tips for master scheduling by way of user-defined rules for combining a system algorithm and sequencing criteria by establishing pre-defined sets, entry options, consumptions, demand class and time buckets. I felt like I was panning for gold. Occasionally I found a nugget but for the most part the only thing that turned up was a minimal amount of dust.

My neurons began to wonder. What if software manual writers were hired to write directions for every day chores? Say for example, doing the laundry. It might go something like this;

Estimating demand for specific articles can be determined by using any combination of historical, statistical, and intuitive techniques. Configurations for individual components should be based on nomenclature found on individual article’s inner seam. It is advised that when assembling a single configuration, or assemblage, that components be of allied chromaticity and texture.

Depending on location of access, apical or anterior, place components into vessel. Optimum performance and results depend on several factors. Care should be taken to avoid force when satisfying vessel dimensions. It is essential that the abstergent selected be compatible with the frangibility of the individual components.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions located rearward on the carafe or carton for correct thermal selection. The measure of the thermal readings will be located on the machine control panel board showing options to measure igneous, arctic or thermal equilibrium before selecting appropriate welter.

Are you still awake? We’re just getting started and the instructions are written assuming you already have a washer installed and hooked up.

Silly. It’s so simple. Just read the instructions. Of course, there is always that irritating individual who will shake their head and say, “You don’t understand this? All you have to do is separate the darks, lights, choose the speed, don’t overload the machine, set the water temperature and turn the cock-a-doody thing on!”

Don’t let them fool you. Someone showed them how to do it because we all know technical writers are paid to baffle your intelligence.

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