us vs. them (somewhat long)

Subject: us vs. them (somewhat long)
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 15:23:15 -0600

NOTE: the following is definitely soap-box material

I have only been subscribing to this list for the past 6 or 7 months, but I
have noted many popular threads and comments within threads that could be
best construed as having an us vs. them attitude. What is interesting (to
me)is that the "them" includes everyone but technical writers (e.g., suits,
geeks, engineers, marketing) and often includes segments of the technical
writing community.

I do not understand what drives these statements.

YES, tech writers often are considered second-class citizens in
engineering-driven (and other) companies.

YES, we often bring it upon ourselves by not understanding the basic tech
details (content-wise) required of the specific jobs we do.

YES, we are paid less than what we think we are worth.

YES, we are often left out of product decisions that affect our workloads.


We are communicators.

It has been said, you cannot have a discussion unless both parties are
equals. We must respect our collaborators (marketing, engineering, qa,
training, customers, clients, etc.) and earn their respect as well.

We must also be agents of change.
We can change the processes within our companies.
We can change the attitudes of our co-workers
We must facilitate communication between departments and between our
companies and their clients/customers.

I have no issue with communication issues that we have within our work
situations. Whether to give a co-worker a draft or not is a real issue.
Whether someone has an english degree, an art degree, or a degree in
agriculture (U of Minn's tech writing dept is in the agriculture dept) seems
somewhat silly and not at all related to communication issues. Whether
engineers tell us how to write is a communication issue in that a
collaborator's input is somewhat misdirected and needs fine tuning.

one last however...

I do understand the need to vent and perhaps I should view techwrl as a
virtual water cooler: A place where we can stand around and talk without
having to police ourselves too heavily.

from the soap box,

Walden Miller
Manager, Technical Documentation
Vidiom Systems
Boulder, Colorado

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