RE: "The World of Technical Communication and Writing"

Subject: RE: "The World of Technical Communication and Writing"
From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -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>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2015 23:38:35 +0000

I see what you mean, Chris.

Yes, by that description then, the definition on the STC website home page seems redundant, as they say "STC members communicate about technical or specialized topics" when it should probably be "STC members communicate information about technical or specialized topics." I don't think "STC members communicate technical or specialized topics" would be quite right here, but there might be other rewrites that work.

Not a very good example of the profession. :)

Steve

On Wednesday, July 01, 2015 2:38 PM, Chris Despopoulos wrote:

There are plenty of verbs that work perfectly will with "x about y". There are plenty others that don't. And there are differences in the meaning of the construct when the verbs do work with it. When you walk about the neighborhood, it's different than when you talk about the neighborhood, and not just because of the difference between walk and talk -- the function of "about" is different. But I digress.

You don't "reveal about" a secret, for example. But you can talk about a secret, or even write about it.Â

You don't "convey about" an idea, but you can think about it.

You don't "share about" your money (unless you're telling people about it, which is a different meaning of share), but you can worry about it.

I think the Webster's definition of "communicate" gives a good clue:
"to convey knowledge of or information about :Â make known <communicate a story>"

You would not "convey knowledge of or information about" about a story. You would not "make known" about a story.

To communicate about something is to have multiple communications... It changes the context of the word. By that usage, simply talking about technology would qualify as technical communication. In fact, it IS technical communication (it's communication "about" technology) -- But I strongly doubt that is the sense that the STC has in mind. I suspect they would like to distinguish technical communication as something apart from 7th-graders showing off their smart phones.

cud

On Wednesday, July 1, 2015 3:53 PM, Steve Janoff wrote:

Point of reference, Chris:Â In another post on the "Future Tech Writer with Software Questions" thread, you wrote this:

"At the bottom of it, you will have to write ABOUT something. It's no good if you don't know what you're writing about."

Writing "about," communicating "about"... I'm not sure I see the difference?

Thanks,

Steve


On Saturday, June 27, 2015 4:13 AM, Chris Despopoulos wrote:

Rick Lippincott said:Lots of stuff, summed up with:I think the context of the line provides enough clarity for the definition, as well as limits to it.

This in response to my objection to "...communicating about..."

Rick, I think you miss my point. I don't mind the word (or concept) "communication". What I object to is the usage. You do not communicate "about" anything, unless you mean a series of exchanged communications... A conversation. Frankly, I doubt that's what they had in mind (given the context).Â

Instead of "..communicating about..." X, the line should read "...communication of X". As a technical writer your product is the communication of technical concepts. Your product is not communication "about" these concepts -- that happens as a *result* of your product. The construct they used properly and semantically allows a lunch discussion to be called technical communication, which blows their context out of the water.

Why does this bother me? Because the STC, when crafting a definition, should be more precise if they want credibility in the field -- and they can be simply by using "communicate" correctly. Of course, it's all too easy to let such a mistake fall through the editorial process. We've all done it. And I hope we've all had boneheads (like I'm being here) to point out the error. Cud

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References:
RE: "The World of Technical Communication and Writing": From: Janoff, Steven
Re: "The World of Technical Communication and Writing": From: Chris Despopoulos

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