Re: Licensing tech. communicators

Subject: Re: Licensing tech. communicators
From: Susan Stewart <susan -at- AVALANCHE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1993 17:59:42 -0600

I've worked with many well-qualified, appropriately and specifically trained
professionals who are responsible for "poorly written software manuals,
jargon-filled reports, etc." I've also worked with individuals without
any formal training who write lucid, informative, and engaging documentation.
Most fall somewhere in the middle. It would be really hard to come up with a
fair way to qualify communicators as professionals or dilettantes.

I think that good writing/communication -- whether it's technical or not -- is
kind of like pornography. It's hard to define but you know it when you see it.
How could we test for it and get any kind of worthwhile results? I also think
natural selection will eventually take care of those who don't communicate well,
regardless of their training, certification, or professional affiliations.

If we don't get too involved in what we call ourselves or how rigidly we define
our profession or how we decided who gets to be in our club, maybe we'll have
a little thought left over for what we can learn from other professions--and
what they can learn from us. If someone wants to use technical communcation
as a springboard to a "real" profession, more power to 'em. I hope they learn
something as they pass through. If they think it's just a job, okay, you don't
have to be committed to a career every moment of your adult life. I don't think
these people degrade our profession--they just make different choices.

I think that if we want others to have respect for our profession, we'll have
more luck with simply acting like professionals than by showing them our

Of course, my message may be influenced by the fact that *any* sort of
regulation makes me peevish. Think what you will.

Susan Stewart
susan -at- avalanche -dot- com

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