Ignorance as an asset?

Sarah O'Keefe / Opinion1 Comment

There’s a recurring debate over how technical a technical writer should be. One faction argues that ignorance of the technology being documented forces the technical writer to think at the same level as the target audience — the end user.

The other faction argues that the ability to pretend ignorance may be valuable, but that the more the writer knows, the better.

I definitely fall into the latter camp, but I do recognize that being able to empathize (or maybe commiserate) with the end user is useful. I suggest that you periodically take up a new craft, like woodworking or crochet. This allows you to relive the experience of being adrift in ignorance, with little or no help available. Or try home remodeling (preferably on nothing of structural importance).

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe

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Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

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