Re: Technical -v- Technical Writing Expertise

Subject: Re: Technical -v- Technical Writing Expertise
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1993 13:55:05 -0500

Bonni Graham continues this discussion with some wonderful observations:


> It depends on what kind of 'expert" you are talking about.


> Remember, it is MUCH MUCH easier to criticise than to create. It is even
> to criticise than to edit/fix. "I don't like this/This doesn't work" is
> different from "I like this better/I think it would work better this way".


> If this is tying back to the "hire a techie vs. hire a writer" debate, I still
> say if you're primary output is written material (whether online or paper),
> someone with writing skills. I don't care if they have a degree in Psychic
> Underwater Basket Weaving -- can they write?


> Any other worms to add to the pile?

I always like to ask people who gratuitously criticize *anything*
(especially me, or my writing), "Hey, can you do better?"

Don't get me wrong - I love criticism - contructive criticism, that is.
I enjoy receiving the critical insight of somebody who understands the
basis for the criticism they make, and uses it to try and improve or
correct my writing. That's fine.

By the same token, I *expect* that when I provide the same sort of
criticism, using what I fully understand and completely grasp as a basis
for improving or correcting the work of others, whether it is text or
software or interface design, people respect that too. ESPECIALLY, when
they ASK me.

I've always felt that judging the work of anyone by the credentials she
holds is not constructive. Far better to judge the quality of the work
itself rather than the background of the worker.

I've said this before in this forum, but since this thread continues,
nobody apparently either listened or agreed. IMHO, your background
doesn't make you good at anything; you apply all of your skills to do a
job, and you either do it well or you don't REGARDLESS of your

Believing that a primarily technical background is better than a
primarily writing background, or vice versa, as a prerequisite for
technical writing is a (in my view, unacceptably) narrow and specious
belief. Neither side of the argument allows that, by conscious effort
and the use of different styles, people with different backgrounds can
perform the same jobs equally well.

This is a mistake. You can make this mistake for a long time and not
realize how much of a mistake it is until somebody makes the same
mistake in judging you.

Ok, that's the last time I'll raise this point. Sorry to be repetitive.

Hey, everybody have a nice Thanksgiving, ok? Be careful on the road,
let's all make it back to see if Levinson comes up with another song.

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |"Is your IQ still as low as it was |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| when I first met you?" - Groucho |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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