Re: Tech writing saves journalism

Subject: Re: Tech writing saves journalism
From: "Sean Hower" <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 07:40:40 -0700

This whole thread reminds me of the discussions I've had about cultural anthropology--the need for cultural relativism and unbiased observations in order to "report" on a culture.

It's an ideal, but one that you can't meet. We all have our own baggage, hanging around us like Marley's chains. Sure, we can try to check all of our baggage at the ticket counter, but without fail something misses our notice--a wallet, a handbag, a keychain with pair of nail clippers, heck, a pair of shoes even--that affects how we interpret what we see. (To beat this analogy into the ground) If we're lucky, we'll notice before the metal detector does and before security takes us away for a more detailed search of our person. If we're not lucky, we become so involved in what we think we see that we completely me what is actually going on. Hey, we're only human. A perfect cautionary tale of this is Horace Miner's "Body Ritual among the Nacirema."

The tie-in. I've always seen technical writing as part cultural anthropology; there is an element of the ethnographic in what we least, that's how I see it with all of my own baggage dragging along behind me. Just as in anthropology, in tehcnical writing, and now business analysis, I strive to see what is there and not what I think is there. Sometimes I do a pretty good job at it, sometimes I botch up the whole thing, but I still strive to do it because, according to my baggage, it's the right thing to do.

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Sean Hower - communications specialist

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