RE: Another interview thread ...

Subject: RE: Another interview thread ...
From: Jim Shaeffer <jims -at- spsi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 09:17:30 -0400

I hope the poster does not take this personally, but I think
the ideas in the message (below) illustrate some important
tensions in our field.

The paragraph that begins, "I hope it ..." describes a person
who is expert in (and excited about) certain, specific emerging
The paragraph that begins, "I guess the question should ..."
describes "an intelligent, experienced technical writer"
(thanks, Jane) who can learn any new technology 'on the fly.'

It is common for hiring managers to think that both descriptions
describe the same person. They do not. Actually, your ideal
candidate would be both persons in one.

Of necessity, most technical writers do not focus on things that
do not yet exist. There is not much need for us to document them.
We are interested and keeping an eye on them, but there isn't
enough Return On Investment for us to get into them deeply.
When offered work on such projects we rely on charm, native
intelligence and guile to get us in the door <vbg>.

It may be that a "developer mentality" is needed to get the
attitude AND the knowledge desired.

Please, send discussions to the list, flames to me personally.

Jim Shaeffer (jims -at- spsi -dot- com)

-----Original Message-----
From: Charlie Montgomery [mailto:Charlie -dot- Montgomery -at- onename -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 8:19 PM
Subject: re: Another interview thread ...

Thanks for all the discussion. But here's another piece of the puzzle:

We may not be looking so much for someone who can write code as we are
looking for someone with a developer's attitude, understanding, and passion
for current and emerging technologies.

I hope it doesn't seem a little ignorant to suggest that a developer-type
might be better suited to this sort of mindset. I can say that, when asked,
none of the TW candidates I've spoken to had much if any knowledge or
interest in software being designed for the emerging web services layer of
the Internet, or what the next level after DNS will be, or location-based
services for cell phones, or how Enterprises will comply with government
regulations that allow individuals to have a say in how their personal data
is used ...

I'm hoping I'm dead wrong and that we'll get this candidate in here soon,
but so far we haven't.

I guess the question should have been: If you're looking for a communicator
who can understand and describe a community of highly-technical, emerging
technologies; speak with innovators and architects of these technologies;
and work with the developers of these technologies to explain things that
have not yet been created, let alone adopted, who are you looking for?



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