Re: Non-technical technical writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical technical writers
From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: Chantel Brathwaite <brathwaitec -at- cacctus -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2012 09:56:56 -0800

My experience has been that the path to becoming an SME where it counts the
most for documents is less about learning the details of each small bit of
a product or system and more about learning how all those bits work with
each other. You probably have no chance of ever learning enough
"doctrine-specific" engineering knowledge about every part of the system
when none of the engineers do either, but if you work at picking up enough
to figure out how the bits interact at the system level you'll probably get
better results where documents are concerned, and if the company doesn't
have actual system engineers, you might even end up learning things that
nobody else has worked out before and become a bona fide system SME.

BTW, when I rated myself as a 3-4, I was thinking about our own
"doctrine-specific" knowledge and comparing myself to some of the detailed
exchanges I see here about OLH and web authoring tools. I'm sure the
majority of people who post here could probably run rings around me when it
comes to hands-on use of the "tools of our trade," as evidenced by the fact
that I've never gotten a job offer from anyone who wanted me to take a
writing/editing test. :)

Gene Kim-Eng



On Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 9:16 AM, Chantel Brathwaite <brathwaitec -at- cacctus -dot- net
> wrote:

> I can work with some of the hardware,
> but skillful use requires doctrine-specific knowledge. I'm definitely
> working on obtaining all of this - doctrine-specific knowledge as well as
> technical kowledge, but it takes a while to become a subject matter
> expert. No one person really knows the entire system in depth - both the
> doctrine side as well as the technology side. So, if a writer is fairly new
> and is assigned to a project like this one, to survive initially he might
> have to function more as an editor than as a tech writer.
>
> I think too that sometimes tech writers underestimate themselves because
> they measure their "tech savviness" against that of an engineer or
> developer who spent 4 - 6 years of education honing their craft and several
> years working on the same software project. In reality, the writer might
> be a 5 or a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, but they might rate themselves much
> lower.
>
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Non-technical technical writers: From: Dana Worley (MVP/JB)
Re: Non-technical technical writers: From: Chantel Brathwaite

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