Technical writing as a trade; was, RE: Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?)

Subject: Technical writing as a trade; was, RE: Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?)
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: 'Steven Jong' <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>, "despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com" <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>, TECHWR-L Digest <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- TECHWR-L -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2011 15:15:23 +0000

The whole "tech writing as a trade" thing makes me a little crazy. Tech writing is NOT a trade. It is a professions--like being a lawyer, doctor, software engineer, or an electrical engineer (to name a few).

Tradesmen work primarily with things to build things. Literally. They work with brick, metal, wood, pipe, or wires. Trades require manual or mechanical skill. We, in contrast, work with ideas. Our jobs require intellectual skill.

We are not tradesmen. We are not "wordsmiths." There is a perfectly good word that describes exactly what we are: writers.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Steven Jong
Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:19 AM
To: despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com; TECHWR-L Digest
Cc: Steven Jong
Subject: Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?)

Chris Despopoulos posted a long and interesting essay on technical writing as a trade. My understanding is that we're more than a trade because we have a code of ethics. A tradesman will do something stupid if the client demands it ("it's your money"); a professional won't.

Anyway, at the end Chris says:

> I think this finally hits on what bothers me about the certification thing... It tests application within a domain, but where is the test for native ability?

To this I have an answer: we require written commentaries. If you work with beautiful templates and processes and can whip out a company-standard document, but you can't think your way out of a paper bag, we expect to pick that up when evaluating the written commentaries.

-- Steve

--
Steven Jong, Chairman
STC Certification Commission
http://www.stc.org/education/certification/certification-main

mailto:SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net
mobile:978-413-2553

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?): From: Steven Jong

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