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This is precisely why I cannot understand why more TW's don't embrace and move into Knowledge Management. Colllecting, classifying, synthesizing, and transforming information into knowledge is what we do. Some aspects of KM focus more on classifying and sharing/disseminating, but a lot of it has to do with collecting and transforming. In my experience it really is the big picture, strategic view of what we do as TWs. Unless we choose to, as Geoff notes, "parrot" information, in which case we'll continue to be stuck with the "make it pretty" requests and Rodney Dangerfield levels of respect.
And I'm here to tell ya-the money's way better in KM!!! (current contractor title- "Documentation/Knowledge Manager)
Connie P. Giordano
The Right Words
Communications & Information Design
(704) 957-8450 (cell)
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney
> -------Original Message-------
> From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
> Subject: Knowledge is manufactured?
> Sent: 03 Aug '07 13:54
> Dan Goldstein opines: <<tech writers don't manufacture knowledge. We
> acquire it and (if we're lucky) transmit it to other people.>>
> Interesting point you raise. There's been considerable debate over
> this issue for a great many years. The history of technical
> communication education has progressed from thinking exactly what you
> say (that we are nothing more than mouthpieces), to a slightly pre-
> modern attitude that we instead "translate" between audiences (i.e.,
> from "engineer" to "English"), to the modern attitude that we do
> indeed create something entirely new in much the same way a
> silversmith takes raw silver mined by a miner and turns it into
> something valuable.
> In reality, some of us do only one of those things, and suffer
> accordingly in the workplace. Others of us do all three, at different
> times. Some of us even focus almost exclusively on the "creating
> something wholly new and precious" part.
> This point is crucial to our success in the workplace: If we're seen
> exclusively as dumb parrots who do nothing more than parrot back
> information created by someone else, we get no respect. Our work is
> treated as the commodity product that it is, and we're paid
> accordingly -- or replaced by cheaper outsourced work of sometimes
> dubious quality because the difference between smart and dumb parrots
> is negligible. If we're seen as people who provide some direct bridge
> between information creators (e.g., engineers) and customers who use
> that information by serving as translators and user advocates, we get
> a bit more respect and a bit more pay in recognition of the value we
> add. We're now treated as distant cousins (chimpanzees) instead of
> dumb birds.
> Only when we're seen as people who do significant knowledge creation
> are we given full respect and compensated and cherished accordingly.
> That's not just empty theory. At a previous job, I was given the same
> amount of respect and input in decisions as most of the engineers I
> worked with, and had my salary classification upgraded into the same
> category as these engineers (rather than being pegged in the lower
> support classification). I'm freelancing now because I wanted to
> pursue different work and different projects (such as writing books;
> see below), not because I was in any way dissatisfied with the
> recognition I received.
> Lessons there for those willing to learn from them. If we hope to
> succeed in the workplace, we really do need to create something new
> ("manufacture knowledge", if you prefer), not merely digest knowledge
> and pass it along.
> -- Geoff Hart
> ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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