This weekend, we went to the Fabularium on London’s South Bank, where the programme highlighted The Museum of Almost Forgotten Things. It struck me that this concept could also be applied to technical communication. The impetus to write things down, to document policies and procedures and to write user documentation for software written in a Sprint, is often due to organisations worrying that important information might be soon forgotten. Technical Authors often capture and record almost forgotten things. They might, however, object to the word “museum”, because they are working with how things are today much more than how things were in the past. So perhaps “palace” could be an alternative word to use.
Ben Haggerty, the storyteller whom we saw perform, started by trying to discover who we, the audience, were. He quoted a west African saying that there are four types of people in the world:
Those that know and know that they know. These are called teachers, and should be respected.
Those that know, but don’t know that they know. These people are asleep.
Those that don’t know, and know they don’t know. These people are students.
Those that don’t know, but don’t know they don’t know. And there are 630 of them sitting in the House of Commons on the other side of the Thames.
It’s interesting to see how close this old African saying is to competency models used in training today: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence.