Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 21:06:05 -0700

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
>>> Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
>>> My personal opinion is that Hoenenmier and
>>> her lawyers are willing to send the entire
>>> profession of technical writing down the path
>>> to becoming secretarial help in order to get
>>> their payoffs. But that's just my view on the
>>> subject.

>> An engineer's view, to be sure. Engineers have the comfort and
>> security of a Profession that recognizes academic preparations for a
>> career in engineering, and has gatekeeper functions to unambiguously
>> certify Professional engineers. That is one benefit of choosing a
>> career that works with hard data, algorithms, material, etc.
>
> The vast majority of people employed in the US as engineers do not
> hold PE licenses (I never got one). A four year degree from a college
> or university with an accredited program in engineering is the most
> common "gatekeeper" for entry into the field.

I remember a long techwr-l thread about that, with some discussion about
international engineering credentials IIRC, in the past year or two.

But what I was working at addressing is the conceptual gulf between
technical writing and engineering, in an effort to close off avenues
leading to your rhetoric about the Sun lawsuit, where tech writers are
either engineers or secretarial help. It doesn't capture tech writers
very well. Neither engineering, with its well-known path through
physical science, or secretarial help, with its well-known
administrative and support roles, has the concepts necessary to describe
commercial technical writing.

>>the engineers seem
>> to need a nanny to stay on task.
>
> That hasn't been my experience with engineers, but you work in
> software, right? Different worlds, I guess.

Oh, unless your field is plagued by last minute afterthought planning
for documentation, absence of formal project specifications, schedules
based on fantasy, budgets based on wishful thinking, and staffing based
on what is available at the last minute, yeah I guess you could say
software is in a world of its own. I guess there's just something about
making a product that is just bits on a disk that makes everyone act
like anything is possible and profitable.

> Or perhaps it's just
> symptomatic of our society's generally lower esteem of language,
> communications and other "non-technical" learning.

Not society. Engineering.

Someone will complain that I don't know what I'm talking about because
they also work in software and haven't had any of those problems. That's
fine, I can imagine how software tech writing might be less problematic.

> I've lost count of how many times during my years as a
> publications manager that I have counseled my writers that
> behaving in that manner is the surest way to *not* be treated
> as a professional,

Sure, you've often said, in so many words, that you yourself wouldn't
take work that didn't meet your standards. I interpret that stance as an
assertive one, possibly not in the range of stances available to some
tech writers.

> but it seems to be a common behavioral
> characteristic of many tech writers, who often seem to have
> a difficult time seeing and asserting themselves as people who
> have expertise and knowledge and an expectation that they will
> be worked with accordingly.

I don't think I know what this is about. I always know what my mission
is, and I always devise a plan for getting it done. The variables are
things like who gets the ulcers.

Do you think the root cause of the Sun lawsuit lies off in the direction
of unassertive tech writers? I don't have any real information about the
circumstances, so I'd rather not speculate on whether she should have
asserted independent judgement.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Darcy Rumbold
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Bonnie Granat
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Bonnie Granat
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Bonnie Granat
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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