re: Do I REALLY have to understand the material?

Subject: re: Do I REALLY have to understand the material?
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 08:21:46 -0600


3. It is not my job to make products and technologies more desirable, that
is marketing and sales job.


5. Technical writers are advocates for the user! (posted by Plato, the
samurai tech writer)

Since Andrew pans *both* 3 and 5, his positions are inconsistent.

IMHO by all means the tech writer is part of the marketing and sales of the
product and should recognize that and actively play that role and resist
being pigeon-holed away from it. Most theories of marketing, however, will
put the sales force to a great extent in the position of customer advocate.
Success stories, perhaps more importantly, describe this. It's idiotic,
instead, to fail to recognize this, although it's easy to see this role not
as much played by contractor tech writers as by tech writers on-roll
employed by the firm. It has to be that way, and I'd repeat my position
that the tech writer should be a manager of a documentation testing/quality
function whereby user input to documentation drafts is actively solicited.


1. ... Writers spend all their time worrying about their single-source
system and then they don't have time left use their amazing new system to
actually produce any documents.


7. This isn't why I got into writing. I don't want to learn this technical
stuff. I just want to write.

Andrew, I believe, accurately perceives some "hiding" mentality among some
technical writers, and I agree this doesn't promote success. I call it
desire to be secretary. Tech writing is surely an activity filled with
opportunities to confront the unknown, meet new people, solve problems, and,
indeed, learn some technology. Some appear, instead, to attempt to make it
a "comfort zone" wherein social interaction can be limited to just a few
fellow employees, especially, perhaps, a kindly boss. More power to these
folks, I suppose, but this behavior, again, better describes the former
profession. It's not a tech writer job to protect the nest from (or be
protected from) outsiders ... like users.

PS: Please know I recognize many firms expect and enforce this limited role
for tech writers. Too bad for them. And their customers.

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