SGML & The Technical Writer

Subject: SGML & The Technical Writer
From: Gerry Bourguignon <ad767 -at- FREENET -dot- CARLETON -dot- CA>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 1994 19:07:54 -0400

Hello again!

When discussing SGML with one of my profs at the college, he made the
comment that many engineers look at technical writers as people who simply
churn out text and really don't have to think much or concern themselves
with how the information is presented. He thought one of the main reasons
many chose technical writing as a career was to be generalists rather than
to be limited to one specific function. If writers don't have to concern
themselves with document design or layout, then their jobs become reduced
almost to a clerical function. He said that would be the day when he
would do a job where he sat in front of a keyboard inputting text all day

What do others think? Does SGML encourage this view? Does SGML
threaten to turn writers into clerks? Will it put writers out of work

In a popular introductory book on SGML entitled "Practical SGML" by Eric
van Herwijnen, the author says: "Authors are subject matter experts for
whom it is a waste of time to be concerned with typography or document
layout. Some call it creativity, but inside organizations where the author
has free reign over format the result is usually an incoherent collection
of badly looking documents."

Do you agree with this statement?

Thanks to those who have responded to my earlier posting. Your comments
are most welcomed and appreciated.


| Gerry Bourguignon "I watched the ripples change their |
| ad767 -at- freenet -dot- carleton -dot- ca size, but never leave the stream of |
| Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA warm impermanence..." (David Bowie) |

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