Technical Writers vs. Technical Communicators

Subject: Technical Writers vs. Technical Communicators
From: John Sanders <SANDERS_J -at- TBOSCH -dot- DNET -dot- GE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1993 11:33:04 EDT

Hi All,

Recently, in an article about SGML, Elizabeth Gilmore said: "For authors this
means that we can focus on writing content. We can be writers without having
to be desktop publishers as well. We can devote ourselves to conveying
meaningful information..."

Now, I have come to think of myself not just as an author or technical writer,
but as a technical communicator. The difference, as I see it, is that I am
comfortable in a variety of mediums besides print, and that often to properly
convey information I have to make sure that information is presented in the
right way.

Sure your words may be meaningful, but with the wrong presentation, the
message can be lost.

With ISO 8879 SGML are we going to, in some ways, change back to a medium we
have essentially discarded as the sole source of information?

I know that the advantage of SGML is that the definition of its elements is
a structured process, and that furthermore standards are being developed to
make SGML multimedia, but are we back to being writers and not communicators?
Can we really setup information using these tools without thought to the final
format(s)?? Even with an explicit structure?

Does anyone else feel that there's a difference here?

[Journal of the Society of Technical Communication, Second Quarter, May 1993,
"Introducing Today's SGML", Elizabeth Gilmore]

-John Sanders-

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