Re: Academic focus (was tech writer bookshelf)

Subject: Re: Academic focus (was tech writer bookshelf)
From: Elizabeth Ross <beth -at- vcubed -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 14:54:25 -0500

I don't accept the premise that "technical writers are secretaries," nor do
I understand your logic in assuming that I do. I just note that, in the
corporate world, "that's the way it is." But graduate school is often
focused on theory more than doing--that's the way it is in many professions.
Notice my use of "often" and "many" as qualifiers. There are always
exceptions to the rule.

I never meant to imply that continual learning isn't a good thing--it
definitely is in my book. But some learning is more relevant to one's job
function than others. For becoming a "better, all-around technical writer",
I would not include graduate school on the list. For becoming an academic,
an author of articles on the theory of technical writing, etc. you can't do
better than grad school.

I don't give a diddly about how much theory of rhetoric and other grad
school issues tech writers working with me know. I care whether or not they
can: 1. use the technology; 2. write about it in a clear and effective way;
and 3. complete 1. and 2. in a reasonable amount of time. That is *my*
definition of qualified, regardless of what degrees you have or how many
initials go after your name.

Neither 1, 2, nor 3 fall into the "all I ever needed to know ...
kindergarten swill".

As always, YMMV.
Elizabeth Ross
Senior Technical Writer, V3 Semiconductor Corp.
mailto: beth -at- vcubed -dot- com
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum.

> From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
> Reply-To: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
> Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 10:02:05 -0700
> To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
> Subject: re: Academic focus (was tech writer bookshelf)
> re: Graduate school tends to have an extremely academic focus on technical
> writing which often doesn't mean diddly in the corporate world ...
> ... and if you accept this, you accept "technical writers are secretaries."
> This behavior in corporations is just fear of the unknown and to me is
> analogous to the Spiro T. Agnew "effete intellectual snobs" nonargument.
> The "all I ever needed to know ... kindergarten" swill. Nothing against
> anyone on this list, but more education is always better, and if you haven't
> had it you don't know. Know anyone who regrets having learned something?
> We know some that would like to think they can stop learning and coast,
> "keep their heads down," as it were.
> Biggest "corporate" problem I can envision with grad schools would be
> insularity, i.e., failing to recognize that tech writing is advertising and
> therefore failing to team with the business school. Ought to team with the
> engineering school, etc., too, of course. Insecurity? I'm amazed how often
> folks want the underqualified on their team. "Save that salary for me,"
> perhaps. Depends on the work for sure, obviously--don't mean to imply every
> tech writing job requires a grad-school-level tech writer.

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