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Subject:Re: The Tech in Tech Writer From:Bruce Wolf <brucerwolf -at- yahoo -dot- com> To:John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com> Date:Tue, 15 Aug 2006 17:16:03 -0700 (PDT)
I think John just put a size 14EE right up someone's
--- John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com> wrote:
> I dunno ... I guess you have to define "technical"
> and that gets a
> little dicey.
> In my version of reality, I would say I'm sort of
> technical. I mean, I
> have a degree in English and Philosophy, but on the
> other hand, I've
> been working in software development organizations
> for over 30 years,
> and cut my teeth on operating systems, languages,
> and system utilities.
> I haven't written a line of code since the 70's, and
> even then, not too
> So - would I pass myself off as technical? Maybe,
> maybe not.
> HOWEVER, I *do* know a whole heck of a lot about
> learning a new
> application with an eye toward documenting it. As I
> tell my tech comm
> students, the five skills all good writers have are:
> * Conceptualization (the ability to pick up the
> big picture very
> * Investigation (the ability to flesh out and
> expand my big picture
> through any means possible)
> * Assimilation (the ability to "own" the
> information inside my head)
> * Organization (the ability to figure out the
> best way to explain it
> to others)
> * Regurgitation (the ability to get the words
> out and onto 'paper')
> I can learn almost any application in a short amount
> of time. After
> you've seen a few dozen, you start to see the common
> components even if
> they do very dissimilar things. You either learn how
> to learn fast, or
> you become ineffectual. I learned. On my current
> project, I managed to
> learn it enough to turn out a basic but complete
> help system (first
> draft level of completeness) in just two weeks so
> that it was able to be
> sent to an early level adopter.
> So ... are you technical may not be the right
> question to ask. Are you
> able to learn something well and quickly enough to
> ask intelligent
> questions and to give good feedback? Are you able to
> sort out a myriad
> of incomplete and half-implemented pages and still
> keep them in some
> sort of order? Are you able to make sense out of
> chaos? Those may well
> be more important attributes.
> The second aspect of all this is that someone who is
> technical may make
> all sorts of assumptions that may or may not be
> appropriate. Is the
> audience technical? If so, a "technical" writer can
> skip a lot of the
> preliminaries and get onto the meat of the issue. If
> the audience is not
> so technical, then a less-than-technical writer may
> be a better choice
> for this project as they would possibly be better
> able to relate
> background information, etc. than someone who takes
> such knowledge for
> I think it was John Posada who recently said that a
> good writer should
> be able to write up to an audience level as well as
> down to a less
> technical audience. I grant that as ideal, but
> rarely see it in practice.
> Anyway, that's my 2¢,
> John Garison
> elizabeth j allen wrote:
> >In light of the recent discussion surrounding
> breaking into the tech
> >writing field, allow me to share the following:
> >I recently started a new job with a multi-national
> semiconductor company.
> >I was introducing myself to yet another coworker
> today when he asked me if
> >I had a technical background.
> >"We've had several tech writers here who didn't
> have a technical
> >background, and, oh man, they just couldn't catch
> on." The shake of his
> >head, slump of his shoulders, and expression on his
> face told the story.
> >These writers were unable to grasp the technical
> dimensions of the
> >material they were supposed to be writing about.
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