Depth of Focus

Subject: Depth of Focus
From: Steve Fouts <sfouts -at- ELLISON -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1993 16:24:06 CST

Saul Carliner writes

|} 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.


|} 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.

Hmmm. I am tottering like a metronome here. I want to grab ahold of this
and run with it, but which direction?

On the one hand, I agree whole heartedly with Saul that the discussion
here is pretty superficial, especially the "tool of choice" discussion,
which continually ignores the fact that the only "proper" way to choose a
tool is to A) perform a systems analysis to determine exactly what
functionality you need, and B) survey the available tools for the one
that performs all or most of the desired functions the most cost

On the other hand, I monitor a couple of Usenet groups with a high population
of professional engineers, and even a couple of T.I. internal groups with
nothing but professional discussions of T.I. topics and all of them tend to
be fairly superficial also, so maybe it is more of a symptom of the medium
than it is of TechWriters (tm).

It may just be that we already have a medium for discussing complex topics
(the STC journal, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, The
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, etc.) and the net/Email
provides us with the opportunity for micro discussions such as we are

What do YOU think?

/ ___ __/__\ \ / / _\ Steve Fouts
/___ \| | ___\ | / __\ sfouts -at- ellison -dot- ti -dot- com
/ / \ | \ / \
/_______/__|_______\_/________\ <insert boiler plate disclaimer here>
"In brief, she assumed that, being a man, I was vain to the point of
imbecility, and this assumption was correct, as it always is." H.L.Mencken

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