Re: New Thread - Technical Writing Job Advertisements

Subject: Re: New Thread - Technical Writing Job Advertisements
From: Katharine M Schommer <scho0106 -at- GOLD -dot- TC -dot- UMN -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 1994 20:50:30 GMT

Phil Hellerman <philh -at- central -dot- shared -dot- com> wrote:
>I am a software technical writer. To me means that I understand software and
>write documentation about the software. Developing quality documentation that
>people can use requires technical knowledge about such things as 4GL, RDBMS,
>COBOL, PL1, OLTP, RF, telephony, etc. (If you are a technical writer and do
>not know what these terms means, it is important that you gain an
>understanding, IMHO.)

If the word "software" was inadvertently left out before "technical
writer" in that last sentence, ignore what follows:

Why, oh, WHY do so many people assume that technical writing is only about
high-level computer documentation? I write mostly internal documentation:
employee manuals, paperwork procedures, and a variety of documents that
don't involve computers at all. For my projects that ARE computer-
related, I don't have to understand programming to document a Windows
application; I don't need to speak Unix to write instructions for our
Unix-based production control system; and I don't need to know the inner
workings of our network to tell users how to use the e-mail systems.

The principles of technical communication are applicable to such a wide
range of situations -- it doesn't seem fair to perpetuate the myth that
technical communicators write only computer documentation.

P.S. I agree that experience with a particular tool should be a secondary
consideration in hiring, assuming it's a long-term position where the
employee won't have to hit the ground running.

Kate Schommer | Unless you're the lead dog,
scho0106 -at- gold -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu | the scenery never changes.
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities |

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