Re: Tech writer as "user"

Subject: Re: Tech writer as "user"
From: Tkritr -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 22:22:16 EDT

ASUE Tekwrytr wrote:
> The concept is exceptionally misleading, and widely taught in university
> classes in "technical writing." The fallacy is that the "user" is
> assumed to be witless and clueless, so a writer can dumb down basic
> material to sixth-grade level and call it "technical writing."

I would argue that university classes don't teach that users are "...assumed
to be witless and clueless," at all, but rather that this is the
interpretation of the student(s). I spent a lot of time in tech writing
classes, and I never once heard a user referred to as such.

Users want to read the documentation you are providing quickly and easily
(usually to do their jobs). This doesn't mean that they are morons, it means
that they don't want to have to look up the definition of a word because you
are feeling like <pick your favorite author> today.

>>There are endless legions of Journalism and English majors
>>to fill those positions, as an alternative to working at Wendy's.

I'm a journalism major. The interviewing skills I learned as a journalist
have been just as important in learning what I was writing about as the
technology skills I have learned on the job. And I haven't used any of the
skills mentioned at a fast food establishment. :)

Back to work, me!
Kirsten Petersen
technical writing consultant
Education, it's not just for breakfast anymore.....

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