RE: [TCP] certification (was: ranting STC)

Subject: RE: [TCP] certification (was: ranting STC)
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 10:10:08 -0500

Gene Kim-Eng responded to Ned:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
> > While I'm confident that certification alone could never
> result in TWs
> > having cartel powers (cool if it could), still, as I think you say,
> > certification could be awarded by a TW organization that
> somehow comes
> > to represent tech writers in the marketplace. That's a
> more potent (and
> > dangerous) situation, with the potential to control the
> supply of TW
> > (the commodity).

> Don't hold your breath. In the absence of a law that requires me
> as a hiring manager to only employ "certified tech writers," the
> supply of people available to mw to fill a tech writing position
> will continue to include anyone I choose to consider, i.e.,
> anyone with technical knowledge who I think I can make a tech
> writer out of. That's my whole point about the "value" (or lack
> thereof) of certification.

Ah, but Ned's view is not as far-fetched as you might think.
The thing that such people would aim for, aside from
the control over training and entry by aspiring TWs, would
be to secure government collaboration in keeping their lot on top.
So, they would lobby for the adoption of regulations and standards
whereby any government department would be required to choose
only among Guild-Certified TWs to fill positions. Then, government
contractors and suppliers. After that, it's not a big stretch to
general products and services for civilians and:
"If something goes bad, and a lawsuit is looming, you'd better
be able to say that at least you hired Guild-Certified tech
writers to create your product and procedural documentation."

In other words, get themselves and their followers established
as the only real 'due diligence' option - all others are of
questionable quality (they said so, and the government agrees)
- and if you didn't choose the government-approved "brand name",
well, "Damages are automatically awarded to the plaintiff in the amount of

Bit of a stretch? Yep. But it's early days. Just wait.
No big conspiracy required; just certain types of people doing
what comes naturally, taking the next step, and the next...

Getting back to that foot-in-the-door thing about lobbying for
government-preferred or required status, remember that special
interests seeking government blessing often have the advantage
over the unorganized mob who just want to live their lives unmolested.
That advantage is, first, the very fact of organization. A
dues-collecting organization has greater resources to allocate
toward lobbying than any single member of the public (whether s/he
happens to be a TW or not).
That is, while you and I, individually have jobs and family life and
other commitments, a lobbyist in the pay of a special interest group
has nothing else to do. Their days are spent researching and making
contacts and pressing the flesh, and their evenings are spent doing
the rounds, picking up strategic bar tabs, etc., and all of it legit
business expenses.

Another big advantage is that Mr and Mrs VotingPublic don't care
one way or the other. If there's no tax-dollar appropriation being
demanded, why should they even become aware that one band of technical
writers is seeking a government-mandated dominion over the rest of
their kind? They don't. So, you and I would get no support for
"don't tread on me", and politicians and bureaucrats would see
absolutely no public resistance to (nor even awareness of) an issue.

For that matter, if somebody from an interest organization was
setting up meetings with underlings and functionaries at your
state or national government offices, and with politicians, to
push changes that would affect your livelihood, would you even
know about it? Before it became a fait-accompli?

You'd find out when somebody pointed you to a photo of the
new prez of your new leadership alongside a politician or bureaucrat,
one hand shaking the politico's hand, the other hand brandishing
a set of shiny manacles... symbolic of course.... with your name
on 'em.

Well, ok, things like that don't happen overnight, so you and I will
be retired before the pieces fall into place.

Some of the relative youngsters in the craft, who have a "don't
tread on me" bent, might delay the inevitable by setting up their
own competing organization. But eventually, the execs of the two
groups would arrange a merger... "for efficiency"... and then the
names of anybody who'd ever been on the membership rolls would
be claimed as support for formation of the Guild and for seeking
government blessing.

Kevin (conspiracy-theories-R-us :-)

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