RE: Do I have to understand the material?

Subject: RE: Do I have to understand the material?
From: "CB Casper" <knowone -at- surfy -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 08:45:50 -0800

Sean commented to Andrew's response
during a long thread with:
> In terms of the issue that kicked off
> this thread, does a tech writer
> need an Associate's degree in
> electronics to document electronics?

> Also, does the writer need to be as
> much an expert as the engineer or
> programmer, or can the technical
> writer do a good job with a less-deep
> knowledge?

I spent 18 years documenting welding and
assembly processes. Can I weld? Not worth
a tinkers dam. I have actually welded about
12 inches in my life. I did however become
a AWS QC1 Certified Weld Inspector. I can
observe a weld and tell the welder what
they are doing wrong and how to correct
the problem. I can inspect a weld and
determine it's quality. I can look at a
design and show the design engineer how
to change it to be stronger, faster,
cheaper, etc.

I may not be an expert at actually welding,
but I was sufficently well versed in enough
aspects of welding to talk intelligently
with the specialists I had to work with on
a daily basis, engineers, quality, welders,
fabricators, fitters, grinders.

Does this make me an expert as a welding
Tech Writer and thus qualify as a Welding
Expert? Not as a welder, but certainly as
a writer. I do wish I had done more welding.

I wasn't the expert in anything, but I
was a 75% expert in everything.

Another aspect of a good TW is the ability
to step back and view things from the
ignorant vantage. This skill is one that
sets us apart from the experts. Several
examples from this thread show the value
of being able to step back and view things
from a different perspective. Being
ignorant is one thing, but being able
to play the part is a desireable thing.

I don't miss the stinky, smoky, dirty
environment inherent to welding.
Writing for computer SW is much less
hazardous to my health. It was fun while
it lasted, however.

CB -

Actors may not be who they portray, but they
can fake it long enough to be convincing.

Tech Writers may not be the experts, but we
have to present the info as if we were.
Surfy! Great web search, free web email, and $9.95 unlimited Internet access

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