RE: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"

Subject: RE: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"
From: Dan Goldstein <DGoldstein -at- nuot -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2015 20:30:01 +0000

I agree, but that's some serious Plato-bait. If he's lurking, he'll respond!

-----Original Message-----
From: John G
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2015 4:19 PM
To: David Artman
Cc: TECHWR-L
Subject: Re: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"

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.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career": From: David Artman
Re: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career": From: John G

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