Re: Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers

Subject: Re: Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 17 May 2003 20:37:07 -0700

ASUE Tekwrytr wrote:

However, I hear the opposite argument with equal fervor from academics and graduate students.

Of course you do. Nobody is likely to argue against the course they've chosen. Of course, the same can be said of the opposite view, but it has the advantage of being based on experience. Unless the academics and graduate students are actively working in the field, or actively researching job hunting in the field, I'd be inclined to doubt the usefulness of their opinions.

Despite a number of arguments provided in favor of experience by list members, the arguments are not convincing; most are based on experience in the high-demand market of the past, rather than current economic realities, and extrapolate based on conditions that no longer exist.

If anything, the demand for experience is likely to be greater in hard economic times than in good ones. Wouldn't the current economy strengthen the arguments in favor of experience?

Good workers are not necessarily good managers, and good managers do not need to be good workers--they only need to understand enough of what workers do to direct and facilitate that work.

Well, there are different management styles, true enough. But I'd add management to the list that includes technical writing and selling - the list of things that people believe they can do without knowledge. In my experience, a knowledgable person without management skills may make a mediocre manager, but a person with management skills but not knowledge generally makes a terrible manager - and also has a much harder time winning the respect and cooperation of those being managed.

While producing technical documentation is an impressively complex task, it is also highly specific; the task completion skills learned in one job at one company do not necessarily translate equally to other writing jobs at other companies,

I've worked for 30 companies since 1996 as a consultant and employee. About 25 of those jobs or contracts have included technical writing. There has rarely been a complete overlap, but much of what I learned at one job has been translatable to another, especially my knowledge of general technical material, such as security or open source software.

In short, my experience - or maybe my style - is vastly different from yours. But I admit that I've always tried to be a hands-on manager whenever that was practical.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all across the salt seas,
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England,
From Ushant to Scilly, 'tis thirty-five leagues."


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Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers: From: ASUE Tekwrytr

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