RE: So you call yourself an architect? -- longish

Subject: RE: So you call yourself an architect? -- longish
From: "SHIELDS,SUSAN (HP-FtCollins,ex1)" <susan_shields2 -at- hp -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 May 2001 12:31:54 -0400

Like Charlie (and everyone else on the planet, I'm pretty sure), I wear many
hats. In addition to those he listed:

Since having kids, I'm a mother
Since getting married, I'm a wife
When operating a vehicle, I'm a driver
When settling tiffs between my kids, I'm a referee
When talking on a cell phone while driving, I'm a hazard

But if, while doing the mom thing and refereeing a kid fight while driving,
I crash the car, I'd prefer to have the services of a professional surgeon
rather than someone with incisive editing skills.

Let me be painfully clear on a few points:

* I'm not talking about Charlie (his post was just my jumping off point)
* This post does not have anything to do with certification for tech writers
(no one should
use my post as an excuse to work himself into a snit and beat that horse
* Some words describe professions -- occupations or vocations requiring
training and
advanced study in a specialized field (I'm paraphrasing the American
Heritage Dictionary

People who have completed specific training and advanced study in a
specialized field do tend to get a little miffed when untrained folk
appropriate their title. My husband, for example, is annoyed by the rampant
use of "architect." He spent lots of time (and money) training to be a
traditional architect and cannot rightfully call himself an architect unless
he is licensed by the state. There are legal responsibilities and
liabilities involved. It bugs him when the term is used generically.

How does all of this apply to technical writing? One of our functions is to
express information clearly and unambiguously. I think we ought to be
concise and specific at the same time. If I put "architect" on my business
card or resume, I should be feeling contrite because it's unclear and
potentially misleading. If I called myself an "information architect," I
wouldn't feel repentant at all.

Now I have to glove up, find my scapel, and get back to my editing.


-----Original Message-----
From: Charlie Montgomery [mailto:Charlie -dot- Montgomery -at- onename -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2001 4:58 PM
Subject: RE: So you call yourself an architect?

When asking questions, I'm an investigator.
When speaking to subject matter experts, I'm a student.
When writing procedures, I'm a teacher.
When creating web help, I'm a builder.
When building books, I'm an architect.
When editing, quite often I'm a surgeon.

And when my company goes public, I plan to be an International Man of


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