Re: Engineers as Writers: Unclassified

Subject: Re: Engineers as Writers: Unclassified
From: Stuart Selber <sselber -at- MTU -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1993 09:10:04 -0400

Simon North writes:

>Bradford has a point - where do you draw the line between writers and
>engineers? IMHO it is the following:

>- a writer can be expected to work faster, cheaper and more
> efficiently (I still maintain that absolutely _anyone_ can write a manual
> given ten years and unlimited resources. If you want it done for $x and
> within 2 months, get a professional).

I agree with Simon that technical communicators often have writing
strategies that allow them to meet tough deadlines and produce a lot of
work under tough constraints (economic/political/social). But I don't like
the rhetoric of efficiency and speed here, especially since it may be
linked with lower salaries for writers. Writers clearly bring resources and
skills to writing projects that are *different* from those of engineers and
scientists. And we should be recognized (with appropriate compensation as
well) for doing such. I don't see the differences as falling on either one
side of a writing project line or another.

Perhaps we might explore this thread here. What activities/tasks do we
perform in our companies that are particular to technical communication,
and how are we uniquely qualified to do that work? (I'm thinking of work
here that would significantly challenge someone without a technical
communication background).


Stuart A. Selber
Department of Humanities
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI 49931
email: sselber -at- mtu -dot- edu
phone: 906-487-3252
fax: 906-487-3347

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