Re: apologia pro vita sua (was Re: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word)

Subject: Re: apologia pro vita sua (was Re: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word)
From: Win Day <winday -at- home -dot- com>
To: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 10:08:32 -0500

At 05:42 PM 1/21/00 -0500, Mark Baker wrote:
>To all those generalists who were offended by my comment that if people are
>asked to do too many things they will not be able to do them all well, my
> >apologies.
>There is certainly a role for the generalist. Small companies who can't
>afford a team, and who have fairly simple technology, can doubtless benefit
>from a technical communication generalist.


>When it ceases to be the normal expectation of a technical writer that they
>do page design, layout, and pre-production, the quality of technical
>communication will improve markedly. There was a time when the barber pulled
>teeth. Perhaps in some isolated communities, they still do. I want a
>professional dentist.

Sometimes, though, depending on where we live, my dentist is part of a
large office. There are several dentists, dentists-in-training, and
hygienists on staff. You rarely see the same person twice in a row; the
dentist only pops in for a consultation at the end of your visit, and then
only if there are problems with your teeth uncovered by either the
hygienist or the dentist-in-training.

And sometimes, like right now, we go to a dentist in a small office. She
cleans my teeth, does the X-rays herself, and I see her every time I'm

She's a generalist. She admits so herself. She prefers it that way -- she
likes the contact with her patients.

You know what? I like it that way, too. I prefer having one person to
deal with, rather than a team.

I've worked for companies that had doc departments with several people on
staff. But each person was assigned one or more projects as the sole doc
person. Each of us handled everything from start to finish, including the
printing and binding if necessary. (I even hand-delivered a proposal to a
client once.)

It was kind of nice to have others available to bounce ideas off of. But
we were all generalists. And we all did our jobs quite well, thank you.
And we wrote about some pretty technical stuff (risk analysis for refinery
flare systems, process control of heavy oil upgraders, for example).

If you like to just write, and you can keep youself gainfully employed
doing so, wonderful. Just goes to show that there's room in this
profession for all kinds of people with all kinds of skills.

But please refrain from bashing those of us who work differently.

Win Day
Technical Writer

mailto:winday -at- wordsplus -dot- net

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