Re: A little machoist antler-crashing

Subject: Re: A little machoist antler-crashing
From: Shannon Ford <shannon -at- UNIFACE -dot- NL>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1993 09:25:33 +0100

Chuck Petch writes (apparently in a blaze of fury :-) ):

> In my experience, a skillful writer with a degree in writing and some general
> background in technology can quickly learn the product and write a superior
> manual because that kind of writer can communicate precisely, smoothly, and in
> a way that makes sense for a particular audience. Technical types who become
> writers almost invariably assume that a general command of language will make
> them an adequate writer (a form of arrogance in some cases). Yet they have
> little or no training in audience analysis, organization, transition devices,
> punctuation, grammar, editing for concise expression, levels of style, graphic
> design and page layout, and so on. These are the skills that make for good
> communication. The result of technical writing without training in these
> skills is predictable: a technically correct manual that is difficult to
> Read and even
> more difficult to understand and use. Yet the technical person doesn't even
> see--isn't even aware--of the shortcomings because he or she has not been
> trained in the subtleties of good writing.

> If you want good communication, hire someone trained in the art of
> communication!

Well, you are bound to step on someone's toes when you start making
generalizations like this, and I'm going to be the one who says `ouch'.

I am a `techie' (BS Computer Science) who has turned to technical writing,
but not without completing about half the requirements for a technical
communication certification (in the end, I just *had* to get out of school),
taking some professional technical writing seminars, reading numerous texts
bought with my own dosh, joining STC, and so on. I also did a fair bit of
writing at university, what with a minor in philosophy, and all those lit
classes they make you take (they were some of my favorite classes, in fact).

Now, I have been doing technical writing for three years, not a long time,
granted, but I expect my writing improves a bit each year.

I don't want to go back to school for a bachelor's degree in
Technical Writing, English, or Journalism before I am allowed to qualify for
another technical writing job. I want to be judged by my previous work, which
I gladly hand over when I interview for new jobs.

(And I don't even want to *think* about splashing cold water on any part of
my anatomy; my right hand is already freezing from its contact with my
metal mouse pad)

Shannon Ford
fords -at- uniface -dot- nl

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