Leaping Goats, On the Nature of

In his book Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama, David Mamet writes:

..."It is our nature to elaborate perception into hypotheses and then reduce those hypotheses to information upon
which we can act. It is our special adaptive device....The excess of ability/energy/skill/strength/love is expressed in species-specific ways. In goats it is leaping, in humans it is making art

Now, judging the quality of technical writing is a tricky thing. Few folks would go so far as to call even the highest quality technical writing "art." Yet, the skills of the artist and the "technical writer" are isomorphic. Identical. The same.

Many folks, even at Microsoft, have widely disparate ideas on the subject of measuring quality in technical writing. The subject is even more tricky. It is much trickier. The trickiness of it is greatly increased.


In my career at Microsoft, I have shared many means of measuring quality in technical writing. But they have always started, and ended, with "meets or exceeds customer expectation. "

They have never involved page count, word count, or page views *as sole measures of quality writing*.

Of course, I thought I was a talented technical writer. It is what I do. The fact that I happen to get paid for it was a bonus. I did it, and worked at continuous improvement, because it mattered to the reader.

Now, it seems, not so much. For the first time in the dozen or so years I have worked at Microsoft I was given a review rating of <number I am not supposed to say, but which was well below my expectation>. One way to view this is as an opportunity for self-examination.

Have I lost my skill and ability? Gentle readers, do tell. Leave comments. Let me know how I can improve.

Many thanks in advance.