Re: More on content providers vs. writers and architects

Subject: Re: More on content providers vs. writers and architects
From: Ed -dot- Hawco -at- acecomm -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 16:26:27 -0500

Antia Legsdin noted: "The current buzzword is 'information architect.' "

"Information Architect" is a bombastic way of saying "information designer"
or "information developer". Anita is correct in calling it a "buzzword."

A true "info architect" is someone with highly-specialized and
highly-advanced skills and knowledge in the structure of information,
including storage, retrieval, referencing, etc. If such a beast even
exists, they would more likely come from the field of library science than

An information designer (or developer), on the other hand, is still
somewhat bombastic, but for my two cents is valid when referring to a
writer who can not only produce compelling, readable, and accurate
"content," but has some specialized skills in terms of things like storage
and retrieval, usability, audience analysis, etc.

Many people can write, but not everyone can take a project from concept to
completion (at least not well). IMO, those who can do this successfully are
information developers. It has to do with the amount of decision making
involved, beyond just language decisions. From tactics to strategy.

It's analogous to the difference between a programmer and a software
developer. A programmer works from specs (hopefully) and creates strings of
code that allow the software to do things. The software developer is the
person who creates the specs in the first place, taking a higher-level view
of the project involving all those issues of integration, usability, etc..

In my opinion, a senior technical writer is (or should be) an information
developer. If you've been doing this for 8-10 years, in a variety of
settings, and with many different types of project under your belt, then
you've probably (but not necessarily) learned more about the job than just
writing. I came to this conclusion from my own experience when, as a senior
writer, I was made a "team leader" of a small team of writers on a huge,
on-going set of projects. From that point on I did very little writing.
Instead, I was focussed on higher-level organization, reader analysis,
mentoring, high-level editing, work flow, processes, etc. At that point, I
realized, I was no longer just a writer.

That's my lecture for today folks! It's 4:15 on New Year's Eve, so I'm
feeling chatty! Happy new year!


Ed Hawco
Senior Technical/Marketing Writer
ACE*COMM Corporation

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