Changed topic to skills we need - Warning! I am wordy.

Subject: Changed topic to skills we need - Warning! I am wordy.
From: "Sharon Burton-Hardin" <sharonburton -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 13:41:16 -0800

I know how it would be nice to be but I have to deal with how it is. And how
it is in the world is that wordsmithing is simply not enough in the market
today. I wish it were. But people who can just write are not finding work.
It isn't enough.

And yes, I have been responsible for and done all the master CD, design the
artwork, write and DTP the insert, work with the printer, and CD plant
stuff. It is expected sometimes that we know that stuff. Not required by
everyone but if you know about that stuff, you have more to offer your
client/employer. I have also gone from air to final bound manuals many times
and needed to know how all those parts work/integrate so when something goes
wrong - and it will! - I can still get the results the client needs and
expects in the time frame we planned.

As it turns out, I am very good at technical writing, project management,
paper and online design, and testing software. I am pretty good at several
other things, like programming. I am sort of OK at serious graphics design
and serious illustration - I call my illustrator or designer when I need
that done seriously.

I know it seems that writing should be enough but no one has the budget for
all those people any more. The rush to market means that we have to be jack
of all trades and know what we are really good at, some good at, and not
good at. I cannot hire people who only know how to write. I need more from
them. I can provide the opportunity to learn and stretch into new areas, but
there is a baseline of things they have to know about because I and our
clients simply do not have the time for them to learn that stuff.

If all you can offer me is that you can write really well, I can buy that
for about $15 an hour from a lot of people. And I probably have to manage
you closely because you don't know enough to manage if things go awry - and
they will. If you can offer other technical stuff, I can and will pay much
higher for that.

Maybe not the way it should be but the way it is. But then I am in the
software/hardware world and we are a little more manic than other


Sharon Burton-Hardin
President of the Inland Empire chapter of the STC
Anthrobytes Consulting
Check out!

| Thank you for making my point for me so well. You are turning away good
| writers because they are not Jacks of all trades. That is precisely what
| wrong with the profession at the moment. Look at the list of skills you
| given. No one can master all those skills. If you ask them to, either they
| will do one or two things well and the rest badly, or they will do
| everything poorly.
| Writers should be expected to know writing and technology and know them
| really well. They should work in teams with designers, media experts, and
| production people who know their own trades really well.
| No one expects a software developer to master CDs, design the silk screen
| for the CD, design and write the insert for the jewel case, DTP the
| prepare the color separations and work with the printers and the CD
| plant. More and more we recognize that we shouldn't expect them to do UI
| design either, and that that is a separate trade to be practiced by
| We expect software developers to understand software design and implement
| efficient robust algorithms. And we pay then really well.
| The Jack of all trades demands neither high pay nor respect. Highly paid
| writers write. They don't DTP.

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