When the term "Technical Writer" just doesn't cut it

Subject: When the term "Technical Writer" just doesn't cut it
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2009 05:06:45 +1100

I was hired by an engineering firm to develop online help and training
material for in-house software. But soon the word got around in management
circles that there was a new guy in IT who was pretty good at putting words
and graphics together.

In the past couple of weeks:

. I've designed and produced a shareholders'
newsletter (requested by the CFO)

. I've helped create a slideshow for a professional
conference (requested by the CIO)

. I've done my "real work" -- developing online help
and training materials including audio-visual presentations.

. I've designed and produced an intranet IT services catalogue

Also, recently, I've travelled around to other offices delivering stand-up

Of these projects, only the online Help and training materials required any
full-on "writing". The others involved information design, mainly, with a
bit of labelling and editing here and there.

I think I've finally got a handle on this. I think what we really do (many
of us, anyway) is a kind of logistical work; it's about delivering the right
technical information to the right place at the right time in the right

So when someone asks me what I do, I usually stammer a bit before catching
myself and settling on something like "I work in IT". That's usually enough
to inspire someone to change the subject to the weather.

Mike West


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