Re: Not Technical Enough

Subject: Re: Not Technical Enough
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: Peter <pnewman1 -at- home -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2000 15:27:28 -0700

At 10:17 AM 6/4/00 -0400, Peter wrote:

Dan Emory wrote:
> Which I rephrase for your benefit as follows:
> English Lit majors who lack a strong technical background
> will tend to be niche dwellers, making them more vulnerable
> to periods of unemployment than non-niche-dwelling,
> technically grounded writers with comparable writing abilities.

You can be the most brilliant engineer who ever existed. Your thoughts
will do no good if you cannot communicate them. I wonder if deep down
inside there is a jealousy towards those who have been formally trained
in the ability to communicate "outside the box."
It's not likely that those who acquired good communication skills
without formal training in that subject bear any feelings of jealousy
toward English majors, and it's silly and irrelevant to even bring it up.

Note that, in the statement of mine you object to, I said technically
grounded writers "with comparable writing ability."

I could paraphrase your statement by saying:

You can be the world's best communicator, but if you're unable to
rapidly acquire, within the (typically) short time allocated, a deep
technical understanding of the thing you're documenting, you will fail.

Given long enough, I suppose, it's possible for anyone to acquire the needed
level of product understanding. After all, anyone who uses a software product
every day for a year or more should be able to document its GUI successfully.

But that's not the real world. In the real world, a strong technical background
is often essential for a writer to acquire the needed amount of product
knowledge and understanding within the small amount of time allocated for
research and information gathering..

No one doubts that a writer must be able to write well. And certainly, it
doesn't require a degree in English to meet that requirement. What I find
peculiar is that the English majors seem to be denying that a strong
technical background is equally important.

Are there technical weenies who can't communicate. Of course. Perhaps
that inability is what drove them into a technical career.

Are there English majors who had trouble passing high school algebra or
physics, which produced in them an aversion to all subjects of a
technical nature? Of course. And it's likely that those people gravitated
naturally to majors in English or English Lit.

The point is that neither the tech weenie who can't communicate nor
the English major who has an aversion to math and science is likely
to make a successful technical writer who is able to take on any
writing assignment.

| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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Re: Not Technical Enough: From: Peter

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