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

Subject: Re: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 08:47:27 -0800 (PST)

"Gillespie, Stephen (Contractor)"

> 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?

Because they learn, adapt, pay attention, and become skilled with the content
as soon as they start a contract rather than have a fit because the documents
don't follow some international methodology. Really good contractors will tend
to niche in certain industries where they have extensive background in those

Its not an overt thing. Its a quiet, attitude type of issue. STC encourages
people to enter the technical writing profession without warning or telling
them that they had better enjoy and have aptitude with technical and scientific
information. Or if they do, its an afterthought. After all the FrameMaker
courses and single-sourcing seminars, there is somebody at the door chuckling
"oh and by the way, yeeeeeah, you need to actually understand all the
content...buh bye, have a nice night."

This is evidenced by the almost total lack of technical or scientific related
material in STC seminars, publications, and events. If STC is so serious about
technical and scientific training - then let's see it. Let's see next year's
seminar include technical training like "Basic Object Oriented Programming for
Writers" or "How to Document Complex Networks." Instead, as normal we'll see a
endless list of "get out there and be somebody" type of pep rallies given by
speakers who are PAYING for the honor to speak.

But STC isn't alone. A lot of universities and community colleges have
certification courses that do the exact same thing. They tell people "you can
be a writer if you know information mapping and FrameMaker." when these things
barely get you started on the road to being a writer.

Andrew Plato

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