Re: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program

Subject: Re: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program
From: "Dawson McKnight" <dawson_mcknight -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 16:44:37 -0400

CHRISTINE ANAMEIER <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov> wrote:

I don't want to rekindle the "how techie? is ignorance an asset?"
debate here, but I want to point out that these topics (and
certifications like the MCSE) are NOT necessarily useful if you're
writing end-user software documentation. I don't know what proportion
of overall TW jobs are in this niche, but it's what I've spent my
4-ish years of TW doing, and I waaaaaaaaay did not need a Comp Sci
degree for this.

I agree with you, but I haven't had a job so far that limits me to writing documentation for non-technical users exclusively. All of my jobs have required an understanding of both non-technical users' needs and technical subject matter, depending on the nature of the technologies I'm writing about.

For example, at my current company, I am responsible for writing user guides for non-technical people, administrator guides for system administrator types, and integrator guides for programmers. Without any technical knowledge, I could easily write the first kind of documents, but I would be at a loss when confronted with writing the latter two.

I recommend acquiring technical knowledge as an undergraduate because doing so will give you more options during your career. It also allows you to better understand and validate information about the systems you are documenting.

My English-major-and-hobbyist-geek background has been more than
sufficient for my purposes. *IF* I were writing for a highly technical
audience, of course, a more technical background would be useful.

My English degree has been helpful to me, too, but now that I have supplemented it with technical knowledge, I am a Powerhouse of Technical Communication.


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