RE: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"

Subject: RE: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"
From: "Steve Hudson" <sh1448291904 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "'Keith Mahoney'" <kamahoney1965 -at- gmail -dot- com>, 'List,Ã Techwriter' <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2016 21:33:50 +0700

E-learning seems to be the latest craze as well. However, you would think that with my experience in both tech writing AND education (teaching business English in China for 7 years, including updating and creating e-learning material directly) would have made me a shoo-in for these positions, but I didn't get considered for a single one of them. Crikey!

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Mahoney
Sent: Tuesday, 22 March 2016 22:37
To: List,Ã Techwriter <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>; Keith Mahoney <kamahoney1965 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"

Interesting topic. I don't think TW is dying; but, I do think it's morphing. For example into Medical Device Writer (AKA Labels and Labeling Writer). Also, I think like any profession you have to keep up your skills.
I see TWs moving into Web Design and becoming TWs with a focus on writing/designing for the Web.



On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 6:48 AM, <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com> wrote:

> David,
>
> I am having a hard time seeing how it is a problem that there are few
> training opportunities for jobs that no one is hiring for. Technical
> writing, like every other profession, does not exist because it is a
> good in itself, but to meet a demand. If there is demand and no
> supply, that is a problem for society that needs to be addressed. If
> there is supply and no demand, that is a problem for the supplier who
> needs to learn to supply something else. If there is no demand and no
> supply, that is not a problem for anyone.
>
> But I think we have to make a very clear distinction here. There is an
> enormous demand for technical communication. We have a lot of
> technology, with more coming every day, and we need to communicate
> about it. There would appear to be a diminishing demand for consumer
> technical publications
> -- manuals in the boxes of consumer and office products. This should
> not surprise us, since there was clearly a bubble in such demand in
> the 80s and 90s when all this tech was new, people had no experience
> with it, and the UI sucked.
>
> But if the demand for technical communication is strong, the question
> becomes, who is doing it? Any kind of communication demands two things:
> knowledge of the subject matter and skill at communication. Of the
> two, knowledge of the subject matter is the more important, since
> lucid ignorance does no one any good, while it is possible to struggle
> through opaque knowledge with sufficient perseverance.
>
> It is quite clear that many products sell successfully despite poor
> information. They sell based on their capability, their price, or
> their reputation. Documentation quality only affects sales performance
> when it becomes a differentiator. That only happens when the
> differentiators that people care more about are a wash.
>
> Where information is a differentiator, it is not necessarily
> documentation that makes the difference. For many products it is much
> more important that it be Googleable, that it have an active user
> community. For programming languages and APIs it can be much more
> important that they have good coverage on Stack Overflow than that they have good documentation.
>
> But within organizations, many different roles requires technical
> communication. Sales, sales support and engineering, marketing,
> training, public relations, engineering, business analysis,
> operations, and the people in finance responsible for innovation tax
> credits all communicate about technology as a significant part of
> their jobs. CEOs of startups spend much of their time communicating about their technology.
>
> Recently, the SouthWestern Ontario Chapter of the STC joined forces
> with the Kitchener-Waterloo based Communitech organization to create a
> Technical Communication peer to peer group. (Communitech sponsors peer
> to peer groups for all kind of technical subjects.) We very
> deliberately made the focus of that group be the communication of
> technical communication in all roles in the organization. The peer to
> peer group is not about the careers of people with "technical writer"
> on their business card, it is about how to communicate effectively about technology no matter what your role is.
>
> Our very first event for the peer to peer group had more than three
> times the turnout of than any chapter event since I have been a
> member. So far, the signups for or next event are even higher.
>
> Technical communication as a task and a function is huge. Those who
> enjoy it and excel at it should follow it where it leads and worry
> much less about where they sit or what title is on their business
> cards. (And the Society for Technical Communications should focus much
> more on being a society for technical communication and much less on
> being a society for technical writer jobs.)
>
> Mark
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:
> techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of
> David Farbey
> Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 4:25 AM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"
>
> I agree with the criticisms of the tone of the article that have
> already been expressed. There were too many generalisations and no
> attempt to introduce any evidence, even anecdotal evidence, to back up
> the statements being made. For example, if you mention "a recent
> survey" as a justification for your assertions you need to provide a
> link or a reference to the source. The only source mentioned in their
> references is a five-year-old personal blog contribution, and it is
> not really relevant to the article.
>
> However...
>
> In the UK the technical writing profession is indeed facing
> challenges, but they are very different from the ones mentioned in the
> article. On the supply side, there are limited training opportunities,
> and no academic courses at all. The ISTC (http://www.istc.org.uk/) is
> looking for ways of addressing this deficit, by accrediting courses
> offered by private providers, running a mentoring scheme for new
> entrants to the profession, and encouraging members to engage in
> lifelong learning through our outputs-focussed CPD scheme. (Disclosure
> - I'm on the ISTC Council and these three activities come under my
> remit.) On the demand side, fewer companies appear to be hiring
> technical writers, and third party non-specialist recruitment agencies
> often don't understand that a technical writer doesn't necessarily
> need to be an expert programmer or engineer to be the best person for the job.
>
> Interestingly, the special focus theme for this year's TCUK conference
> that takes place in September is "From Novice to Expert â Writing Your
> Career Path as a Technical Communicator" and the deadline for
> submitting your speaking proposals is Thursday 31st March 2016 (
> http://technicalcommunicationuk.com/index.php/call-for-proposals-tcuk-
> 2016
> )
>
> But maybe the authors do have a point? I now work as a technical
> consultant for a financial services company. My job involves writing
> about technology, but it isn't "technical writing". I haven't moved to
> Thailand, though, I'm still in London.
>
> Regards,
>
> David
>
> David Farbey - david -at- farbey -dot- co -dot- uk
> Mobile 07538 420 800
> Twitter @dfarb
> http://about.me/davidfarbey
>
>
> On 22 March 2016 at 00:27, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote:
>
> > Looking back on my manager days, I would much rather build a pubs
> > team from a bunch of programmers, lab or service techs who could
> > string words together into coherent paragraphs and support them with
> > a good editor and illustrator than from people educated as
> > "one-person pubs teams" with no technical knowledge. Producing
> > usable docs happens much more smoothly when the writers know the
> > tech and are open to an editor's input on their grammar and composition.
> >
> > And it's way easier to get engineers and other developers to talk to
> > a writer who can look at the raw design and ask, "is it this, or is
> > it
> that?"
> > rather than "can you explain to me what this is and what it does?"
> >
> > Gene Kim-Eng
> >
> >
> > On 3/21/2016 5:00 PM, Monique Semp wrote:
> >
> >>
> >>
> >> I was hired as a "Senior" tech writer for my very first tech
> >> writing job because a flexible (ok, maybe she was just desperate)
> >> tech pubs manager was willing to hire a programmer who could write
> >> a coherent paragraph :-). And happily, those were the days of
> >> companies having whole teams of writers, so there were mentors
> >> available to teach me, and sufficient staff to be productive while
> >> new writers were being
> trained.
> >>
> >
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References:
"Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Cardimon, Craig
RE: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Dan Goldstein
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Lauren
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Monique Semp
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: David Farbey
RE: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: mbaker
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Keith Mahoney

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