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

Subject: Re: Technical writing as a trade; was, RE: Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?)
From: Craig Cardimon <craig -dot- cardimon -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:52:41 -0400

Tech writing as a trade:

http://www.freelancewriting.com/articles/tools-of-technical-writing-trade.php

Just being the Devil's Advocate.

On Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 12:44 PM, Chris Despopoulos <
despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:

> Yes, I've caught a little flack over that. I'll back off and say that
> tech writing is a craft. But by that token, so are most "trades", when
> done with care, individual skill, and attention.
>
> I don't think the sense of a journeyman is inappropriate, though. A
> journeyman in a trade or craft is someone able to use raw materials and
> tools to set up a job and carry it to completion. In my experience, there
> are plenty of technical writers who can do that, and plenty who can't.
>
> In one sense, for the sake of keeping terms straight, I guess you have to
> respect the divisions made by terms like trade, craft, profession, and
> art. If not, then you get into arguments about terms, and never get to
> really say anything. From that POV, I have to agree that tech writing is a
> "profession". I guess it means our collars are white, and our fingernails
> are clean.
>
>
> From another POV, I don't think the material you use is relevant, whether
> it's pipes, wires, bricks, paper, or etched wafers of silicon. In any
> trade it's possible to let go and not work with ideas -- or at least work
> with as few as possible. But it's also possible to work with plenty of
> ideas in any trade, be it plumbing, brick laying, or what have you. I
> think the same is true of technical writing. I've seen plenty of pages
> written that are nothing more than physical descriptions of GUI elements --
> "The FOO option foos a bar. To foo a bar, click in the FOO check box to
> make an X appear." Well, thank goodness it's task oriented. But where are
> the ideas? How is writing like that in any way superior to laying bricks,
> one after another, in nice straight rows?
>
>
> When discussing the "trade" of technical writing, I was making points from
> this POV. So we could say I was being metaphorical... I just wanted to
> use the term "journeyman", mainly.
>
> cud
>
>
> ________________________________
> 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>n
> Sent: Monday, October 31, 2011 11:15 AM
> Subject: Technical writing as a trade; was, RE: Give Me a Clear Thinker
> (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?)
>
> 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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--
Craig Cardimon -- "The Duct Tape Writer"
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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
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
Re: Technical writing as a trade; was, RE: Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?): From: Chris Despopoulos

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