Prof. Writer Terminology

Subject: Prof. Writer Terminology
From: Daniel Lupo <LUPODJ%PUCAL -dot- BITNET -at- UICVM -dot- UIC -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1993 17:29:20 -0600

I thought Chris Jacobs was asking for a less offensive way to
distinguish between engineers and technical writers when he
objected to the use of "real vs. not real tech writers." I
thought the argument over the distinction between tech writers
and typists was finished on this list some time during Q2 of 1993.

Anyway, if anyone _is_ wanting a less offensive way to distinguish
between professional writers who do tech writing and engineers who
do tech writing, let me offer this (and I think it is from an
article by Dorothy Winsor, but I'm not 100% sure):
professional writers - primary job function is to gather
info, write it up for specified readers,
edit the text, user test, know about
document design and computer-assisted
publishing, etc.

professionals who write - SMEs (engineers, lawyers, business
executives, biologists, etc.) whose secondary
or tertiary (or further) job responsibility
is to write up/about the outcome of their
primary job function.

I see the relationship between the two as both symbiotic and adver-
sarial. We work together when we have a common goal, each recog-
nizing the value of the other's expertise. We work at odds with
one another when, despite the common goal, the ego of one or the
other, or both, gets substituted for the documentation being pro-
duced. IMHO, there is never a situation when the relationship is
perfectly sybiotic; it is often the situation when the relation-
ship is adversarial; it is most often the situation where the
relationship is partly sybiotic and partly adversarial.

Does this theoretical model hold any water for you?

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