Re: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

Subject: Re: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 02 May 2008 15:52:14 -0700

Lauren wrote:
> Alright. I compared and contrasted business writing and technical writing
> and stated that the two writing classes are different. I gave my examples

I think the distinction you've identified is real. Here's my example:

I was working in a phone company as lone tech rider, documenting a
complex network re-engineering project. They liked my work, and I was in
thick with programmers, project managers, and the business class.

Then one day, the Oracle team asked me to document their Financials.
Oracle Financials, that would be a business writing task, wouldn't it?
Long story short, the work never materialized because while I could
document Oracle database applications, I didn't have any experience with

This anecdote illustrates the constant objection I have to the
"Communicator" job title: communications are not jello, and I don't work
by dissolving a batch of information and pouring it into a mold. What I
have to do as a technical writer is artisanal, like blowing glass, or
throwing a clay pot on a wheel. The "communicator" model, IMHO, wants
to claim that I have a push-button labeled Communicate--just wind me up,
point me at the work, push my button, et voila!

The point is inevitable: I can be a born communicator and a technical
writer, a web developer and creative marketing copy writer, a medical
device writer with 21CFR11 requirements, a SOX writer, a green-belt Six
Sigma PM, an official of the STC, a policy and procedure writer, an
journalist, science writer, and an avid correspondent in Esperanto and a
double-handful of other languages in which I also translate scientific
journals, and still, it does not follow that I am the embodiment of the
specification for a drop-in communicator who can do any technical
writing task.

My example illustrates that I agree with Lauren on this point, but
someone will point out that even Oracle Financials writing is artisanal.
To that point, I say "I have a driver's license. Can I take your Indy
car out for a few laps, I want to set a speed record in the Unskilled
Novice class?" IOW, communication and tech writing, even in a Venn
diagram, don't automatically overlap where the non-trivial aspects are

Uh oh, getting tired of this already.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


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RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken: From: Lauren

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