Re: Technical Writing Skills

Subject: Re: Technical Writing Skills
From: JPMartin1 -at- AOL -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 09:05:39 -0500

Geoffrey Marnell wrote, "Judging by the advertisements for technical writers
- contractors and
permanents - the principal skill sought is technical expertise or
knowledge (often of some programming language or operating system).
Writing skills appear to take the back seat..."

Not at all! Clarity of expression is and should be a primary concern

He continued, "In view of the fact that it can take a moderately intelligent
person weeks to master a new system,
but years to master clarity and precision in writing..."

Gosh, gee! Two, maybe three weeks to master UNIX and data packet switching?
Perhaps, then, a month to absorb all the newest developments in
telecommunications? Usability theory and practice should only take us hours
to absorb?

Forgive my sarcasm. I have seen so many people try to enter this field, not
just lacking technological expertise, but with the (often sullen) expectation
that the writing and editing skills they've garnered have *earned* them
something above and beyond what ordinary mortals have earned. That attitude
simply isn't true. Worse, that mindset is detrimental not only to the
individual but to our fledgling field as a whole.

We are Technical Writers and Technical Communicators. We communicate
Technology. If we aren't technologically competent or if we cannot
communicate, then we are (by definition) not technical communicators.

I'm hoping that Mr. Marnell will get a clue. Both skills are equally
important, hence the name Technical Communicator.

John Martin
i never know what i need to know until i already know it

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