Re: Resolved: Technical communicators can create information

Subject: Re: Resolved: Technical communicators can create information
From: cjcbrown -at- comcast -dot- net
To: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2010 19:10:25 +0000 (UTC)



I'm with you. In my industry and experience.



It sort of depends on what we call "effective communication."Â Does synthesis beyond any SME input, count?



For example, I work on a software product with multiple SMEs. No one SME can say how to work the product - although each can say how his piece works. The pieces they work on are too small to map into a real world user task. I, as a writer, combine all the SME input, plus customer usage feedback, plus Management messaging, into simple procedures and steps. Adding a footnote or somehow crediting all the contributors to the final piece - oh my gosh, a) customers would say, keep the writing tight and don't tell me how you got there, and b) the team would be embarrassed by a).



Perhaps your contributing reader works in an industry that is more like polishing things for publication under the name of the SME than my situation.Â



But the idea of a tech writer synthesizing something new and valuable is key for me and what my company appreciates (and pays me bonuses) for.



Connie




----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Jong" <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L Digest" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- TECHWR-L -dot- COM>
Cc: "Steven Jong" <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2010 11:19:32 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Resolved: Technical communicators can create information

I recently wrote an article for the STC Carolina chapter's newsletter, the Carolina CommuniquÃ. In it I wrote:

> At the high end of the [technical communication] scale are people who can not only write the procedures but design entire information product offerings, as well as people who can not just describe what a product does, but explain how to use it effectively: not just how to get to the screen or page, but what to do once you're there, and why.
Â
In response, a reader (who gave me permission to quote him) commented:

> You should make certain that young tech writers donât begin to think of themselves as the sources of anything other than effective communication. It is the SME who is to provide the explanation of how to use a product (in his opinion) effectively or what should be done when reaching a screen or a page. It is the tech writer who should seek out the opinion of the SME and perhaps the balancing opinions of other SMEs and communicate those opinions (with credit) to the audience, assuming, of course, that tech writers actually have time to do that in the real world.

I did not say, or intend to say, that technical communicators can dispense with SMEs. But I do think that we can create information, not just serve as amanuenses. I think this goes to the heart of what a technical communicator does. If I am correctly paraphrasing the reader's opinion, a technical communicator can collect information ("here's what folks say"), and curate information ("here's what the SMEs say"), but not CREATE information. I disagree. What do you think?

ÂÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â-- Steve


Steven Jong ("Typo? What tpyo?")
SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net
978-413-2553 [C]
Home sweet home page: StevenJong.net

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References:
Resolved: Technical communicators can create information: From: Steven Jong

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