Re: What does it mean to be technical?

Subject: Re: What does it mean to be technical?
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 10:15:14 -0700 (PDT)

"Goober Writer" wrote

> If you can think critically about technology, then you
> are in fact technical.

I agree. But, I would add that critical analysis skills are part of a bigger
skill set - basic science & technical skills. Anybody in a technical related
field should possess a basic understanding of computer systems, electronics,
chemistry, biology, mathematics, etc. Critical thinking is dependent upon
having a large swath of knowledge and understanding to draw upon. If all you
know is grammar and FrameMaker, you're never going to be able to analyze
complex technical concepts, because you lack a well of basic technical skills.

Furthermore, many people here confuse "being technical" with "being an SME."
They think that calls for writers to be more technical mean they have to become
a subject-matter expert (i.e. write code, build databases, design systems,
etc.) Being technical means having the capacity and experience to comprehend
and understand complex, technical and scientific concepts. There is no magic
number out there that you reach when a bell goes off and you're deemed
technical. And plenty of so-called "SMEs" are just as "non-technical" as their
tech writer co-workers.

Communication begins and ends with understanding. And if you think that you can
be an effective communicator without understanding what you're communicating,
you're deluding yourself. It is impossible to effectively communicate concepts,
designs, ideas, theories, etc if you don't understand them.

Andrew Plato

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