RE: What does it mean to be technical?

Subject: RE: What does it mean to be technical?
From: "Sharon Burton-Hardin" <sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 18:22:21 -0700

My last comment on this topic - I did not intend you all to think that
knowing your tools only means repairing your computer. I meant - and may
have stated but it has been a rather crazed day - it includes diagnosing
problems, hardware or software. Which means understanding what your OS is
doing and why. It means understanding the stuff that happens on your
computer while you write.

Not to the bit level, but you should know how programs work under windows
and why, how printers work with your computer and why, what is the role of
printer drivers, what graphics formats are appropriate for what you are
doing and why, how fonts work and why, how networks work and how that might
impact you. How to deal with a mapped network drive. And so much more.

Even if you don't work in the computer industry, you work in the computer
industry. Why? You write on a computer all day long. You probably write
about all sorts of stuff, but you need to understand why your computer works
the way it does.

Really, you have no idea how many "experienced" tech writers there are out
there who do not understand what files settings are and why or how to reset
them to not-read only. Writers do not know there are things called drivers
and what they do. If I deal one more time with a writer who thinks
reinstalling software is the first solution for ANY problem, I may scream.

No wonder we struggle with getting respect in the workplace, regardless of
the technology we document. Other, non-technical people, think we are
technical because it is part of our title. They see us work with the
computer all day long. Technical people assume we are technical, since it is
part of our title.

Why is the idea that we need to really understand our tools - and the
computer is our tool - so upsetting to people? What about that idea makes
people yell at me? (No one here has, but people have in person on this

Now, at the end of a long day in a longer week, I am done for the day. Have
a great weekend all. I hope to!


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 Jan Henning
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2003 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: What does it mean to be technical?

> For example, I am working on the docs for a cool software product that
> polls
> all the hardware on my network for information and inventory.

This has little to do with being able to fix the tools you are using -
the only link is coincidental because the tools are at the same time
part of the documented system. For a writer with different subject
matter, the same knowledge would be entirely nonessential.


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Re: What does it mean to be technical?: From: Jan Henning

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