Re: Define technical communicator's job

Subject: Re: Define technical communicator's job
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Sean Brierley <sbrierley -at- Accu-Time -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 15:20:29 -0700

Sean Brierley wrote:
> So, is this a good standard definition of a technical 's job:
> "Develop and design instructional and informational tools needed to
> assure safe, easy, proper and complete use of technical goods. Combines
> multi-media knowledge and strong communication skills with technical
> expertise to educate across the entire spectrum of users' abilities,
> technical experience, and visual and auditory capabilities."

I am reminded of a wonderful little story from the book Traveler's Tales
edited by Eric Newby:

A colonial Englishman enlisted several natives to guide him on a
fly-fishing expedition in the bush. When they arrived at the streamside,
the eager fisherman immediately put on his special fly-fishing rig,
waded out into the stream, and began stripping off line and working it
with great rolling sweeps of the limber fly rod. The natives, standing
on shore, watched idly, occasionally offering advice, but generally not
showing much interest until a bird plunged out of the trees and caught
the hand-tied hook and insect in mid air. The weight and momentum of the
fishing line snatched it from the bird's mouth, but deflected it from
its path. The fly swung directly back at the fisherman, lodging in the
seat of his pants. The fisherman became flustered, and stood there in
the stream, yanking on the rod, trying to pull the hook free.

Now the natives in this part of the world like to laugh. They are great
lovers of funny things, and when they know they are going to laugh very
hard for a very long time, they will sometimes stop whatever they;'re
doing and lie down on the ground.

The natives on shore laid down on the ground. Waves of mirth rolled over
them. At the point of breathlessness, one of them sat up and called out,
"Is the fishing good here?" The other, racked by spasms of laughter and
barely able, rolled over on his side, cupped his hands around his mouth,
and called out the final piece of advice. "Next time, try a harpoon!"
And they fell back again, incapacitated. Their memory of that day
provided high amusement for many years afterward.

OMG Sean. Can you run to the store for my mirth control prescription? I
don't think I can drive now :-)

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

a thing appreciation of mirth for which they are have been not catch
fish!."They laughed exceeding hardit free. the hook of the fly,
deflected from its arcing path by a brush with a . considering of
fishing techniqueis way of fishing, and they watched that he hoped would
prove an ideal setting for a memorable vide ideal fly-fishing the
fishing would be Ach. You troll!

A list of what we do has two immediate problems:

1.) It confines us to things on the list.
2.) It sets employer expectations, yet no
individual tech writer actually does
all of those things.

The USDOL definition, as others have mentioned, has no bearing on our
role, so why not leave it alone? Employers will continue hiring us and
calling us whatever title they like. I think it should be abundantly
clear by now that "defining" us would be as futile as equating us ALL
with engineers. We mostly don't have it in us to be anal retentive
certainty workers who measure and plan. Oh, You are? How many pieces of
paper did you plan on using for the project you're working on?

Worst of all, and who would bother to deny it, having the role of
communicator in the USA is like having a "Kick me hard" sighn on our
backs. A writer can be forgiven when communication backlashes arise. But
a commujicaor?America


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Define technical communicator's job: From: Sean Brierley

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