Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 14:50:50 -0700

Combs, Richard wrote:
> Ned Bedinger wrote:
>
>> 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.
>
> I've worked with software engineers for 20 years, some of them highly
> skilled (and highly paid) people holding multiple patents and doing
> cutting-edge stuff. In all that time, I don't think I've ever met a
> certified Professional Engineer. If any of them was one, they never made
> a point of it. Their professional standing, pay, and sense of self-worth
> didn't come from a certificate or credential.

No, an engineer works within systems of known things, whether materials
and stresses for construction, or APIs for programming. I imagine their
sense of accomplishment comes from doing the needed thing with the
available things. I don't think writers expect their outcomes to be
certain the way engineers do. But then, engineering writers might be
different--they manage to get some of that engineering certainty into
their writing, but maybe only because engineers are their audience. Feel
free to skip this discussion, I think I am going to, because I don't
have the level of language development needed to compare engineering to
writing =8?|

>
>> The only resolution to our disparate viewpoint seems to be that tech
>> writers ought to study engineering if they want to be peers of the
>> Professionals they work with. This other solution, where tech writers
>> have to shut up and do whatever micro-managed thing they're told if
> they
>> want to be treated as professionals, is blackmail, and a particularly
>> perverted form of blackmail at that.
>
> I didn't study engineering. I didn't even study English or Journalism;
> my degree is in Economics, and I fell into this profession.

Well, engineering flows out of the exact and predictive sciences. If
Economics is an exact and predictive science, then that would punch your
ticket for qualification into professional status alongside the
engineers, right? But economics, hmmm, I just don't know if I can ...

> But I've
> earned my stripes, am treated as a professional, am not micro-managed,
> and rarely shut up. My professional standing, pay, and sense of
> self-worth didn't come from a certificate or credential.
>
> Granted, it's anecdotal evidence, but it suggests that, in the right
> environment, other resolutions are possible. I hope you can find one.

Right on. Formatting, vocabulary, and the traditional tech writer tools
support us in expressing things, but we get more of our value from
perspective and critical thinking. Seeing what is important, and shaping
it as tech writing, seems to me to benefit from having an enriched
background that contrasts with the subject matter and lends perspective.
Economics, for example, provides a lot of practice and experience in
comparing and visualizing data. Being accustomed to looking at things
that way would reveal opportunities to express things in other domains
visually, theoretically. Does it?

Other resolutions than perverted blackmail? Nah, as a classification, it
would only get broader, less specific. For the one case, I think more
specific is better, but I suppose my perspective could change.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
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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: Combs, Richard

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