The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')

Subject: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')
From: "Gillespie, Stephen (Contractor)" <Stephen -dot- Gillespie -at- Persnet -dot- Navy -dot- Mil>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 11:06:55 -0500

Just a couple comments to the comments by Andrew last Friday:

>The ability to communicate is simply not enough to make somebody an
accomplished technical writer. I know STC and others have been telling you
this
for decades. It isn't true. And it is the exact reason why so many writers
produce so many bad manuals. They become so obsessed with their "craft" that
they produce crap.

and he continued ...
>There has been a great campaign of deception in the technical writing
profession and many people have subscribed completely to its lies. The base
lie
is that you don't need to understand content. You can be blissfully ignorant
of
the content issues and still become an accomplished technical communicator.
If
you work really hard to master tools and English, you can apply those skills
universally to all topics, all information, and all industries.

That simply is not true. You cannot, under any circumstances, produce
intelligent and useful documentation if you don't understand the content.
Doesn't matter how skilled you are with tools or English...you got to
understand the content.>
(emphasis added)

I've been a member of STC for many years, and I surely have not gotten this
message that Andrew ascribes (to STC).
'The Big Lie,' if I understand him correctly, that all you need are language
skills and tool skills, is really (IMO) a half-truth. I believe that STC
would assert that it's a basic STARTING POINT. From there, I agree with
Andrew that the writer needs to learn the content (to *some* extent, short
of SME status, but don't want to go there again!); however, I really don't
understand how you can take the time to truly get to the level of knowledge
(Andrew seems to require) for EVERY job - otherwise, how can all of the
successful contractors on this list survive?

Steve Gillespie

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