re: Are you a writer?

Subject: re: Are you a writer?
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 07:55:06 -0700

re: Responsibility and respect have a direct relationship. The more
responsibility a person accepts, generally the more they are respected.
(Andrew Plato)

Andrew has written something pretty useful here and I agree with all of it.
I'd like to offer more on the quoted portion.

Given this is "technical writing," the assumption can be that the subject
matter expert (SME) is most often a "technical" person, i.e. an engineer,
scientist, computer scientist, etc. Inherent in these professions and in
their members is responsibility, very often associated with liability. It's
at the core of our society, this responsibility/liability thing, and these
SMEs know it and most often take it very seriously. As these folks exercise
their responsibility, they very often recognize the value of teamwork--two
heads are better than one--in assuring their work is correct and safe. And,
given the serious nature of the work and the potential sometimes for safety
issues and the constant potential for just quality problems, there often
arises a sense of respect for teammates based on ... "we're all in this
together."

In addition, the assumption regarding "technical" products or processes is
that there is human interface ... and just like the communication
critically required within a design team there is obviously need to
communicate procedures for use of the product/process, and this need is as
great as any other facet of product design. It can, in fact, be seen as the
most important thing. So ... given the sense of responsibility seen in the
design team and the notion that human interface with the product/process is
the goal of the design, there is certainly the same expectation of
responsibility on the team member(s) that specialize in the user
communication aspects of the product ... the technical writers.

Technical writers, then, should certainly assume "the more responsibility
[they accept], generally the more they are respected," but more importantly,
I offer, they should understand that *full* acceptance of responsibility is
very much expected of them. The notion "first and foremost it's a paycheck"
doesn't play well at all in the actual world of technical design, IMHO, and
if that's your approach I believe you are severely mismatched in this
profession.

Addendum: If it appears I've overemphasized "safety" and "liability" as
regards your particular product, think instead survival of your firm, return
on investment for your owners, continued employment for you and your
coworkers, and just general service to your customers. All items of
responsibility as well.


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