RE: working with other writers

Subject: RE: working with other writers
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 15:03:15 -0600

What I find curious is that no other high-tech professionals are
so uptight about their status as tech-writers. Even when writers
are consulted and even when they get comparable pay to the geeks
(which does happen in some companies), they're still uptight.

Engineers are equally uptight. Professors are equally uptight. Many "quasi"
professionals are uptight about their status. This may be because they are
not considered professionals. Instead they are in that nebulous area
between blue collar and professional. Many studies have been made on this
issue. By most standards (documented by academics), the tech writing
community has a ways to go before it will be considered a profession. Right
now, its still just a job.

Another part of technical writers' uptightness is that there is no agreed
upon technical writer "area of expertise". For example, marketing writers,
journalists, cook book writers, insurance writers, etc. are all considered
tech writers. None of these writers need to know anything about computer
code, GUI design, etc. The expertise content is specific to the job.

Until recently, there have been no higher degree programs for technical
writing. In fact there have been few BA/BS decrees as well, but there have
been classes in tech writing, usually housed in English or Engineering

A core area of knowledge is developing in some universities, but it is slow
going, because of the wide area of interest for professional writers. As a
real area of expertise grows, I believe that some of the insecurity about
status will go as well.

walden miller
manager, technical documentation
vidiom systems
boulder, colorado

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