Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 21:47:41 -0700

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
> 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.

Business adminstration, marketing and accounting probably
don't etiher, and yet people working in those fields don't seem
to be suffering from any inability to think of themselves as
professionals. Before entering the field of technical writing,
I would have expected that people who put in the four years
necessary to achieve a bachelor's degree in English or
journalism would walk out of the door with diploma in hand
and the ability to see themselves on the same professional
level as an engineer, but for some reason that often isn't the
case if they're technical writers.

> 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.

Compared to environments in which every last minute change
means scrapping months of qualification tests and starting over,
I'd say so.

> Not society. Engineering.

I would maintain it's society. Why else does a teacher have so much
less earning potential than an engineer with no more (and in some
cases less) education?

> 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.

Maybe for writers who never worked for me. Those who have cannot
claim that they've never had the backing to be assertive about their
place on a development team.

> 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.

It's hard to say exactly, since Hoenenmier's statements and those of her
lawyers seem to point to different possible root claims. Her statements
seem to claim that the cause is that Sun required salaried professionals
to work mandatory OT, which would run counter to Sun's claim that the
writers exercised "independent judgement;" her lawyer's statements
seem to claim that the cause is that tech writers should not be exempt
employees regardless of whether they exercise that judgement or not.

Gene Kim-Eng

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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
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger

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