Optimistic or Pessimistic?

As editors, should we have an optimistic attitude towards the documents we review, or should we be pessimistic?

If we follow an optimistic approach, then:

  • Every document is well-written and ticks all boxes.
  • Every good point in the doc strengthens the belief in the inherent goodness of the document.
  • Every bad point will harm the assumptions slightly but not too much.

On the other hand, a pessimistic approach will be something like:

  • Every document is a poorly written one and does not meet the requirements.
  • Since I start off on a negative scale, every bad point in the doc will reinforce my belief in this ‘bad’ document.
  • Every good point will be attributed to an unintentional item by the author.

In the end, if I start at zero, my approach will tend to skew towards the positive for an optimistic review and negatively for a pessimistic one.

So walking that fine line between the two approaches would be the challenge and also one that would result in a win-win scenario for everyone.

Time and Knowledge

As technical writers, most of our daily hours is spent either in writing up bug fixes or minor feature enhancements or being stuck in a need-info black hole. And then there is the unrestrained rabbit hole that is social media.

A couple of days back, Tom Johnson had written about the knowledge a technical writer has to learn. He had grouped them as:

  • Product Knowledge – know-how about the actual product
  • Technical Knowledge – know-how of how the technology behind the product
  • User Knowledge – know-how of the people using the product
  • Industry Knowledge – know-how of how the business works

The problem that interests me is what would be the right way to gain this knowledge.

If you stopped learning yesterday, you are an illiterate tomorrow.

What do I want to learn? That’s the quandary of learning.