Re: More on content providers vs. writers and architects

Subject: Re: More on content providers vs. writers and architects
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 16:29:57 -0800 (PST)

"Anita Legsdin" wrote

> Microsoft used to call "content providers" the people with specialized
> knowledge (of trucking, woodcarving, photography, etc.) who wrote
> for Encarta and MSN. These people were paid less than software
> and were not looked upon with great respect, I don't think.
> The current buzzword is "information architect." :-)

Personally, I think people just want more interesting sounding titles.

I see the writing world with two types: writers and editors.

Writers generate content. That is they figure stuff out and write about
it. Whether it is ancient Celtic butt warming rituals or signal
degradation in 802.11b receivers...a writer internalizes information and
then regurgitates it into text.

Editors improve existing content. That is, they take text somebody else
has written and improve it. That may include clarifying and using
standardized terminology or applying fonts and styles. However, the basis
of an editor's work is to merely "improve" pre-existing information.

Good writers tend to also be skilled editors. But good editors are not
always good writers. Its because each task requires a fundamentally
different skill. Writing is not merely an "improvement process", it is a
creative act even in the technical field. You don't just yak back what an
engineer told you. You digest it first and then yak it back in a new and
more insightful way.

Some editors simply do not possess the skill to think creatively about
complex topics. This shows in their work. They lack that special something
that can abstract and reorganize information into a more compelling,
useful, or insightful way. Hence, we have mountains of dull, boring,
task-oriented documentation that is merely a "prettied up" version of what
an engineer scrawled on a white board.

Likewise, some writers lack the nitpickingness of editors. However, as a
matter of cosmic history, it is easier to repair existing matter than
generate new matter. Thus, most writers have the ability to edit, they
just don't do it.

There are plenty of people working as "technical writers" who never write
anything. They merely touch up other people's work. Not that there is
anything wrong with that, but personally, I don't think it is fair to call
these people writers when they don't write. I prefer to call them "desktop
publishers" or "technical editors."

Happy new year all.

Andrew Plato
President / Principal Consultant
Anitian Corporation

Do You Yahoo!?
Send your FREE holiday greetings online!

Be a published author! iUniverse gives you: a high-quality paperback, a
custom cover design, and distribution to 25,000 retailers. And it's
affordable. Join our almost 10,000 published authors today.

Sponsored by eHelp Corporation, makers of RoboHelp - the industry standard
in Help authoring. Download a trial version today or get special savings when
you buy the RoboHelp 2002 Holiday Edition. Visit

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: techwr-l posting and Spam :-(
Next by Author: Re: Why use screen shots at all? [Research & Practice]
Previous by Thread: Re: More on content providers vs. writers and architects
Next by Thread: media enquiry-your help for an article about layoffs

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads