RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'David Hailey'" <david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 May 2008 13:41:45 -0700

> From: David Hailey

> You are quibbling over terms. Yes, documentation specialists
> do things beyond the narrow definition of "writing," as
> everybody in all professions do things outside the narrow
> definitions of their professions. Medical supply salesmen
> "communicate" the technologies of their products, but nobody
> calls them "technical communicator."

Your analogy does not fit your argument. Medical supply sales people
communicate in the sense that *everyone* communicates. "Sales" is not a
part of technical communication, so there is no reason that a sales person
would be called a technical communicator.

"Documentation specialists" are a part of technical communication because
the requirements of the job support technical communication. The job is
also a junior position to technical writer, so there is not an issue of
quibbling over terms, but rather an issue of distinguishing the differences
between two jobs within the realm of technical communication.

Many jobs are a part of technical communication and they include
documentation specialist, technical writer, business analyst, systems
analyst, project manager, artist, and designer. Technical communication
does not include business manager, engineer, chief technology officer, and
programmer, although all of these people need to communicate within the
technical environment and people from these disciplines can move to the
realm of technical communication if they have the necessary qualifications,
just as people can move out of the realm. Theoretically, anyone who works
in technical communication can be a technical communicator, but it is
primarily technical writers who want the title of "technical communicator."

> It is a matter of degrees. Editing and publishing of written
> materials are all a part of the writing process, as is
> researching the content, discussing the process over the
> telephone, and managing the flow of materials. A
> documentation specialist who researches the material,
> coordinates the material, writes the content (adding
> illustrations, tables, etc.), and publishes the material
> online or in an analog environment is still a technical writer.

You seem turned around in your thinking. There are differences in degrees
of requirements between documentation specialist and technical writer. The
position of technical writer requires everything that documentation
specialist requires, but this does not mean that a documentation specialist
is a technical writer. That would be like saying that a car requires
wheels, therefore wheels are cars.

What if we take this analogy further? A car is technical communication.
The role of "technical writer" is the chassis. The role of "documentation
specialist" is the wheels. The role of "project manager" is the drive
train. All of the remaining car parts are other roles within technical
communication. If we then say that engineers are drivers, we can see how
technical communication is required for application development, but
application development is not communication and technical communication has
many roles.

Although we may disagree on the lines between disciplines in the big picture
of technical communication, when we have a clear discipline like
documentation specialist that is too limited to be a technical writer, we
should accept that it is a discipline in technical communication that
involves writing but is not a technical writer.

> In the end, however, we seem to agree. Someone who does more
> than just documentation, may have moved out of the realm of
> writer and into the realm of communicator. "Technical
> writer" and "animator" = "Technical Communicator."

"Out of the realm of writer and into the realm of communicator"?

A technical writer is a technical communicator, although a technical
communicator is not necessarily a technical writer because technical
communication includes many roles.



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

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