Re: Technical writing as a trade

Subject: Re: Technical writing as a trade
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2011 11:11:28 -0700 (PDT)

I think my last shot at this, and maybe we can euthanize the thread... Reasonable literacy requires education, but not formal education (degrees). Also, I don't think it requires a higher education. High school should do it.

cud



________________________________
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: 'Chris Despopoulos' <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>; "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 1:59 PM
Subject: RE: Technical writing as a trade



Comments cherry-picked from Chrisâ post are in quotes. Responses follow.
Â
âAll I'm saying is that you can look at any trade, craft, profession, or even art through a lens of trade, craft, profession, or even art. That's all I'm saying... You can use the lens if you want to, and you can get value out of using it. Or not. So shoot me, already.â
Â
I totally agree and will call off the hit team.
Â
âI jumped to the wrong conclusion, then. Your vote is in favor of tech writer certification.â
Â
No, not really. Just because I think it is possible doesnât mean that I think it would beneficial or otherwise desirable. Besides, I already have a certificate. For personal reasons (I already have a certificate, am not interested in jumping through more hoops than I already have to, I donât have the time), I am against certification as the STC has designed the program.
Â
âBut the American self-made man did happenâ
Â
I believe in pioneers and revolutionaries, but I think the phrase âself-made manâ is deeply misleading. We are all profoundly indebted to our parents and our culture. Show me a person who raised himself alone in the wilderness and invented his own civilization and technology, and I will support the concept. As for Edison, I looked him up too. I would also add Abe Lincoln to the list as well. But the list isnât one of men and women who had little education. It is a list of people who were exceptionally autodidactic. They were persistent enough to find the books they needed to learn when they felt they needed to know. They were also arguably intelligent enough to recognize their own blind spots (unlike most of the rest of us who need to have them pointed out). For every great inventor or scientist that was âself-educated,â you will find countless others who went through extensive formal education (Newton, Einstein, Planck, Fermiâ to name a very
few).
Â
âYou can take a clear thinker who is reasonably literate, and teach that person to be a very good tech writer.â
Â
No contest. I agree. I would point out your starting point, however: âreasonably literate.â That comes only from education.
Â
Â
From:Chris Despopoulos [mailto:despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2011 9:46 AM
To: Porrello, Leonard; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Technical writing as a trade
Â
Comments inline...
Â

________________________________

From:"Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: 'Chris Despopoulos' <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>; "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 12:03 PM
Subject: RE: Technical writing as a trade

Chris states, "... organizing matter is ultimately an exercise in organizing ideas, whether the matter is assembled as I-beams, bricks, or bits."

Yes, of course. Anything man does has at least an analog in thought. As Aristotle says, man is a rational animal. What follows from your definition, however, is that what masons and plumbers do is essentially no different from what lawyers and physicists do.
Do you accept this conclusion?

[cud]
ÂI already differentiated law and physics from tech writing (lawyers and physicists need a degree). But that's skirting your question. There is a difference in degree (degree of a different kind). But I wasn't aware that I had made a definition. I was just
pointing out the blur between mental and physical work. All I'm saying is that you can look at any trade, craft, profession, or even art through a lens of trade, craft, profession, or even art. That's all I'm saying... You can use the lens if you want to,
and you can get value out of using it. Or not. So shoot me,already.
[end cud]

"The bottom-line question here (the thread) is, can you certify what we do? It seems Leonard argues we cannot... Good writing requires a degree or academic preparation, not a mere certification."

To the contrary, I do think technical writers can be certified. I also think that one learns how to write only through education (i.e., "academic preparation"). I am a big believer in formal, academic education (when done right) and reject the anti-intellectualism
that is unfortunately so prevalent in the American psyche. The uniquely American myth of the "self-made man" a crock of bull. Newton himself said, "I have seen further only by standing on the shoulders of giants." The greatest inventions and insights of our
time (of all times?) came from men and women who underwent "academic education."

[cud]
ÂI jumped to the wrong conclusion, then. Your vote is in favor of tech writer certification. The question remains, what can be certified that isn't already qualified by the candidate's degree? (I'll add that I'm glad the STC doesn't require higher than a
high school degree for certification.)

I did look at T. Edison's bio on Wikipedia, and it points out that he had little formal education. I don't disparage education, and I also really hate good ole American anti-intellectualism. But the American self-made man did happen... It's a product of
any frontier society. Heck, I made myself on the digital frontier, and I know there are others who did the same.Â
[end cud]

If I had to define "education," I would say it is something like, "exhaustive systematic practice taken under the scrutiny and remediation of a master." I would say that one is educated in his field when he has achieved meta-cognitive competence in his domain.
(Someone with an exceptionally good education will also recognize areas in which he is not competent.) I would add that after mastering fundamentals, great writers become autodidactic. In my experience, successful tech writers ("masters") are invariably autodidacts.

[cud]
Without disparaging formal education, I have to repeat my original claim... You can take a clear thinker who is reasonably literate, and teach that person to be a very good tech writer. You can do this on the job -- I've seen it done, and I've done it. I've
seen these people stand out amongst their peers, some of whom were formally educated. I can't say how systematic or exhaustive the training was... Being on the job, it's necessarily situational. (I also shudder to call myself a master... Verging on hubris
there.) Given that, I believe a verified work history, plus a reasonably canny assessment of a person's thinking, is enough to decide whether the candidate is up to the job. (Just restating my claim that among journeymen, it takes one to know one.)
[end cud]
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

---
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40web.techwr-l.com


To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwhirl.com/email-discussion-groups/ for more resources and info.

Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at http://techwhirl.com


References:
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
RE: Technical writing as a trade: From: Porrello, Leonard
Re: Technical writing as a trade: From: Chris Despopoulos
RE: Technical writing as a trade: From: Porrello, Leonard

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


What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads