Science Writing?

Subject: Science Writing?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Craig Cardimon <ccardimon -at- M-S-G -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2007 16:37:13 -0400

Craig Cardimon notes: <<I never thought of myself as a science
writer. A technical writer, yes. Science writer, no.>>

Whereas I, who have done science writing, have always considered this
to be just one specific form of the broader discipline of technical

I stopped following the "is this technical writing/communication"
thread early in the ensuing discussion because it had become clear
that some of us (me, for example) treat the term as broadly
inclusive, whereas others prefer to define the term more narrowly.
Fine. Different strokes for different folks. I don't think we're
going to get universal agreement on the definition until some ultra-
powerful intergalactic travellers pop down for a visit, get bored
with the debate, and unilaterally impose a definition on us, then
vaporize anyone who can't cope. <g>

So who cares? If we can't agree on such a basic point, it seems clear
to me that we need to do a better job of defining what we mean when
we try to create such artificial categories*. If nobody agrees on the
meaning of a phrase, then clearly the phrase is useless for its
intended purpose, which is to consistently inform people what it is
we do. That being the case, we might just as well say "I write
manuals for computer software" or "I produce online help for the user
interface of medical equipment" or "I edit journal manuscripts", and
stop pretending we're in the same profession.

* As the joke goes, "there are only two types of people in the world:
those who divide everything in the world into two categories, and
those who don't".

Or perhaps we should move on to more productive topics, such as the
number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin? That one
certainly kept medieval theologians at each other's throats for
centuries; don't see why it wouldn't do the same for us.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Science Writing: From: Cardimon, Craig

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