Re: STC backstabbing? (take II)

Subject: Re: STC backstabbing? (take II)
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 11:08:11 -0500

<WARNING: Completely atypical remarks about STC ahead. Proceed at your own
risk. You *have* been warned.>

>OK Geoff, you made a good point. But, aside from
>self-enriching ego smacking, what does the experienced
>technical communicator get out of the STC?

"self-enriching ego smacking." While I might drop the "ego smacking"
characterization as a bit perjorative, I'd say the rest is right on target.
And I'd also say there's absolutely nothing in the world wrong with it. In
fact, I'm all in favor of it. But that's not the only thing you get from
the sort of activity you're chiding Geoff about. (No, I'm not jumping in
here to defend Geoff. He's a big boy, and is quite capable of defending
himself, probably better than I can.)

I recently signed on as chess coach for a local high school, and it's
clarifying something I've always suspected. Attempting to teach something
you do to someone else gives you a new perspective on it. Most of us are
not in the business of training writers; we train, either directly or
indirectly, users of whatever product we're documenting. And whether it's
rigidly structured or just personal routine, we all have a process we
follow while doing it. For most of us, we've done it so long we don't
actually notice the process; we do it almost unconsciously.

So when we set out to show someone else how its done, we are observing
ourselves, and documenting ourselves at work. And we begin to turn our own
tools, our own skills upon ourselves; we analyse, we synthesize, we
question "why?" And we understand ourselves and what we are doing better
than before. We see (if we are honest) what we're doing wrong, what we're
doing right, what might be tweaked just a bit. So we improve as well. (It's
easy to say, "I do that already." It's harder to mean it. I honestly
thought I was a fairly analytical chess player until I had to start
explaining to the kids why this move they suggested was so bad it crossed
my eyes. It's different to go through that sort of analysis for the purpose
of explaining it to someone else, than it is to explain it to yourself. You
can't be vague when talking about it to someone else, assuming they'll know
what you mean. You have to see it from other viewpoints than your own, and
explain it coherently to them.)

So, yes, you can get ego-boo from seeing your name in print, from being
pointed to with a whispered "there *he* is.". But that's not the sole
reason for doing them. You get the opportunity to give back a little
something, to "pay ahead," as it were, for the help *you* recieved along
the way. And you also get to refine yourself along the way. And the latter
is cheap at any price.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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