RE: Hostility towards STC

Subject: RE: Hostility towards STC
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 17:15:08 -0400

How many "educated persons" have more than a thimbleful of expertise in any
of those areas?... Not all that many in my experience.

By the way EPSS is electronic performance support systems.

Audience analysis is significantly more than just knowing who you are
talking to, and I can only think a couple of professions where it is an
integral part of the skill set you should have: educators, marketers,
trainers and educators, law enforcement.

There are plenty of educated people who have one or two skill sets, and
almost none require all of them to be effective. If a programmer can't talk
to a group or a non-programmer without falling over in a dead faint, it
doesn't make him/her any less of a professional, it's not a skill required
to put you at the top of your profession.

If you want to be a top-rated information designer (I actually hate the term
Technical Writer, even though it's my title, because it describes so little
of the real scope of what I do) you do need to have all of those qualities
and probably more. Not all Technical Writers have, or want, some of those
skill sets, but then I would call them a Technical Writer, not an
Information Designer.

I guess I have two points here, one is that the technical communications
field has several specialties, mine being this mutt kind of job that
involves design, multi-media production, EPPS design and delivery, Marketing
Communications, Training, and internal staff support for general
applications), but the specific requirements include some base skills that
are common to the field, but not all that common outside it. Being a
Certified Technical Writer doesn't mean that much to me, being a good... No,
make that great, Information Designer does, if a respected certification
came with the territory so much the better. It doesn't make me superior to
a Technical Writer, a nurse, a veterinarian or a custodian, if those folks
are pushing the limits of their profession and pushing themselves to be
excellent then they're every bit as professional as I am.

Mark, I don't think we disagree as much as it sounds like :), I just don't
think very many people can do this well, enjoy it and improve it every day.
My connotation on "occupation" is some Census Bureau term meant to fit you
in a round hole, even if you're a square peg. Which is probably the source
of our apparent disagreement!

Round 4 coming up shortly :)

Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Baker [mailto:mbaker -at- ca -dot- stilo -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2003 4:47 PM
Subject: RE: Hostility towards STC

> To do it well there is a specific body of knowledge, complemented by a
> huge variety of areas of expertise:

True, but that body of knowledge is the body of knowledge that should be
common to every educated person. And none of those complementary areas of
expertise are common to all technical writers.

> Audience analysis

Know who you are talking to -- a skill proper to every educated person.

> Oral Communication skills

Every educated person

> Written Communications skills

Every educated person

> Design and visual arts

Not all technical writers

> Persuasion

Every educated person

> Training and User Support

Not all technical writers


Don't know what that is, so I suspect not all technical writers

> Negotiation for Information

Every educated person

> Information Analysis

Every educated person

Look, an occupation is not inherently inferior to a profession. The
distinction is a practical one, not one of degree. Most of us work in
occupations, some of them challenging, some of them less so. People who work
in professions require a specific body of knowledge that applies only to
their profession. This changes how they are trained and qualified. It does
not change their worth as human beings, nor does it necessarily confer
greater social status or financial reward. It is simply a characteristic of
the type of work they do.

It is ridiculous to try to promote an ordinary occupation to a profession
simply in an attempt to increase your own status. Either there is a
substantial body of specialized knowledge or there isn't. If there is, you
have a profession. If not, you don't. And in the case of technical
communication, we don't.
Mark Baker
Senior Technical Writer
Stilo Corporation
1900 City Park Drive, Suite 504 , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1J 1A3
Phone: 613-745-4242, Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- ca -dot- stilo -dot- com

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