What Is the Tool of Choice

Subject: What Is the Tool of Choice
From: MSTSACX -at- GSUVM1 -dot- BITNET
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1993 16:35:31 EST

A few of you have lamented that desktop publishing has reduced the technical
writer to a mere production person.

I'd like to make a painful observation, however. I find that, on this list,
it is easier to get a discussion going about an "easy" subject--such as
the tool of choice (a subject we repeat at least once a month) or the
term to use for mainframe operating systems--than on more substantive
subjects, such as uses of multimedia, quality initiatives, and the value
of technical communication.

(One notable exception was the recent discussion of Japanese manuals.)

My personal opinion is that, as long as we focus our professional discussions
on elementary level subjects, it will be impossible for us to convince
others that we have more substantive skills to offer.

I know that some people feel their employers are the ones who determine the
subjects we discuss. But employers do not dictate the discussion in
this forum and we still seem to be focused on the virtues of FrameMaker
rather than the difficulties of solving truly complex communication
problems. How can we expect employers to ask our opinions on subjects we
don't even ask for own opinions on?

If employers were to lurk on this list and generate impressions about the
field from the nature of our discussions, they might easily conclude that
tools are the number one concern of technical communicators (or certainly,
one of the top concerns). If we want employers and clients to recognize that
we have communication skills to offer, then we need to talk about
issues associated with communication.

If we say it, it might happen.

Saul Carliner Ph.D. Student
Instructional Technology Geo. State Univ.
Note new userid----> mstsacx -at- gsuvm1 -dot- gsu -dot- edu 404/892-3945

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