Re: State of the Technical Writing Field

Subject: Re: State of the Technical Writing Field
From: "Mark L. Levinson" <nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 22:25:29 +0200

Chantel wrote:
> That being said, how do you see current technical writing field in relation
> to how it was when you first started technical writing? (Even if you've
> only started recently, feel free to comment.)

I started off on a typewriter, and that
was because I insisted. The boss had
expected the secretary to type up my handwriting.
What I brought to the job was an ability to explain
complex things systematically to readers who lacked
prior knowledge. Not only was there no software
for writers, there were no degree programs in
technical writing.

The programmers I worked with were also hired
for their native ability. You couldn't expect
to find experienced programmers via an ad in
the paper; they weren't out there.

Now the field is full of people with prior learning,
some useful and some better unlearned; and the
employer's demand for prior knowledge of tools
can be uncompromising even if a twelve-year-old
could learn the tool in half a week.

Writers aren't free now to conceptualize outside the
structure of what their tools and standards dictate.
As McLuhan wrote, we shape our tools and then our
tools shape us.

Mark L. Levinson - nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il
"if knowledge is power
what is all this other stuff?" - Maggie Secara

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