Re: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"

Subject: Re: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"
From: John G <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: David Artman <david -at- davidartman -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:19:28 -0400

The debate about hiring "people who can write and teaching them the
technology" and hiring "subject matter experts and teaching them to write"
has been going on since Joe Chapline wrote the very first software manual
in the '40s for Eckert and Mauchley.

About 20 years ago, Joe related his memories of this debate in his keynote
address at an InterChange conference. He said that after trying to teach
engineers how to write for a few months, they gave up, hired some English
majors, explained things to them, and started getting cogent, structured,
and organized documents as a result.

We're still in the same situation. We need people who have both the
understanding (or ability to learn) about the technical content and the
ability to convert that understanding into a comprehensible and usable
medium. What the media are, and what skills it takes to use them may
change, but the innate ability to explain hasn't.

In my experience, it's far easier to teach someone who knows how to write
what to write about than to find someone who knows what to write about and
teach them how to write.

My 2Â,

JG




On Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 3:58 PM, David Artman <david -at- davidartman -dot- com> wrote:

> I imagine that it is VERY hard to find that sort of candidate...
> considering that what you describe is a software engineer with extensive
> writing and production tools experience. NOT a "technical writer" who
> can "write code."
>
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