Accidentals missing the point

Subject: Accidentals missing the point
From: JBergen <jbergen -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 00:18:04 -0400

Although I've seen lots of "I'm as good as you are...ya-ya-ya" in
this discussion about "accidental" tech writers vs. degreed tech
writers, I think both sides might have missed the boat. Getting a
degree in tech writing, especially a Master's, is not about grammar
or punctuation or even clarity. Degreed writers have (or should have)
a solid grounding in usability research, cognitive studies, and other
research in the field of communication. These writers should be able
to explain to an engineer or a mail room clerk WHY manuals work
better one way than another. They should be able to analyze and
target a specific audience and write for the needs of that audience.
That's the difference between someone who can write and someone who
can communicate.

Of course there are "accidental" writers who take it upon themselves
to learn about the things I mentioned, but certainly not all. I've
worked with several writers who are writers....period. They can
construct a decent sentence. They cannot tell someone WHY they wrote
a sentence a certain way. They do not know what factors affect
usability in documentation. They do not understand the linguistic
considerations of writing for an international audience.

Just wanted to insert my foot here...I made sure to wear my combat
boots, though.

Jane Bergen/Dallas, Texas

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