RE: What does it mean to be technical?

Subject: RE: What does it mean to be technical?
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 14:00:37 -0400

Let's see now, if you can't repair your PC, read and write code or resize a
graphic, you can't be a real technical writer? I think there maybe more
than one of us who have been insulted numerous times throughout this thread.

Seems to me that the crux of the matter is learning, critical thinking, then
communicating.... About technology, about structures, about biology about
whatever. You must have these things to understand which tools to use, how
a process or product works, what questions to ask, where trouble spots might
be, how to master the subject matter, when to put yourself in the user's
shoes and so on. The most important, and in fact the only tool all of us
have in common, is the brain. In the long run, it's the only one that

And yes, there are many, many technical writers, programmers, doctors,
physicists, car mechanics, master carpenters and plant managers who don't
choose to learn, think or analyze, much less communicate. We as a group are
no worse or better than any other.

I think it is unbelievably naïve to assume that I can't handle a senior
professional writer role because I can't build a PC, or haven't yet learned
to read code, or didn't take a philosophy course in college. It's also
elitist and counter productive. If I ever attempted to fix my PC, I would
be fired for tampering with company property, and trying to the job that our
professional MIS staff is hired to do. But I do know enough to provide them
with information on what it's doing, and what I think might be wrong. Does
that make me a less professional technical writer than Sharon or Victoria?
Apparently so.

Connie Giordano
You know, the one that thought she was a technical writer for 10 years....

-----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Burton-Hardin [mailto:sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2003 1:30 PM
Subject: RE: What does it mean to be technical?

Actually, you do care, you just don't know it. Quality expectations are part
of knowing your tools - how things must be braced, attached, formed, etc.
Not how to repair the drill - how to properly use the drill.

For example, the large addition that was built on my house before I bought
it was constructed badly. The previous owners were paint contractors and
built it themselves. In large part, my master carpenter husband says, they
didn't know their tools and what needs to be put with what and things must
be constructed. As a result, we have had to rebuild a significant part of
it. Why? Over time, it is falling apart (it is less than 20 years old).

I have a friend who contracted out a large floor to ceiling shelving unit.
She said it was obvious that the fellows did not really know their tools,
although they had a reputation for excellent quality work. The result? A
lovely (and it really is) wall unit that took weeks longer than it should
have. For weeks, my friend had construction in her house with all the mess
that entails, instead of about a week, which is what it should have taken.

It is not a tools over capability issue. We are _technical_ writers. Both
parts. Otherwise, we are writers who write about technology. In this job
market, guess who is going to get hired or not laid off?

As I said, this is a personal rant. I don't expect to be taken seriously or
my point to get thru.


Sharon Burton-Hardin
CEO, Anthrobytes Consulting

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-71429 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-71429 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of John Posada
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2003 10:10 AM
Subject: RE: What does it mean to be technical?

> > Would you hire a carpenter who did not understand his tools?

I couldn't give a rat's butt if he understands his tools. If he can assemble
my deck according to accepted quality expectations, I don't care if he uses
a golf 7 iron and a cook's slotted spoon...more power to him.

We're back to the tools over capability issue. I'll vote for capability
every time.

John Posada


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