A Technical Writer by any other name.........

Subject: A Technical Writer by any other name.........
From: KPB -dot- henr801b -at- XEROX -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 1995 10:29:29 PST

Hello All,
This being my first posting to this forum, I decided that my subject
should be as deep as is possible for a cold thursday in February.
I have always been curious as to where you stop being a Technical
writer and begin to be something more. I have worked for Xerox for over 6
years, and in that time the Documentation Analysts (as we are called) have had
the responsibility of taking a design concept from an engineer or programmer,
analyzing what the actual product, circuit, or program does and document that
design concept. Depending on our audience, we could be asked to document how a
certain something works, and how it is used efficiently. This we call Customer
We may document how to go about fixing that certain something, and would
actually have to do the analysis of how it breaks, when it breaks, and what
else would break as a result, as well as how to go about fixing it. This we
called Service Documentation.
We may even be asked to determine the best way to explain the certain something
to Service personnel, we might have to analyze what parts of a certain
something would need to be trained.This we called Training Documentation.
The key in all these things is that here at Xerox we are asked to
actually analyze what we will write. We cannot just take a circuit drawn by an
engineer, and just by looking at it, create documentation to fix the circuit.
We must analyze the circuit, fail it for ourselves, see what reaction it has on
the rest of the system, and then create logical documentation to find the given
In other words, (as you can tell from my rambling) writing is not my
strong suit, and is actually secondary to the analysis and troubleshooting.
Most of our Analysts are Service and Training experts NOT JOURNALISTS.
I was laid off for a few months in 1994 and worked at Harris Corp.
Their Technical writers took information already analyzed by personnel they
called Maintenance Planners. Then the Technical Writers just transferred that
information into whichever publishing system they had. No analyzing, no
troubleshooting. So when I went there as a Technical Writer, I was VERY
frustrated because I was noticing problems with the ANALYSIS that I was UNABLE
to affect because I was "only" a writer. Not to mention my pay was considerably
less than I thought I should be making as an ANALYST.
(DEEP BREATH) So, what would my current position at XEROX be called in
some of your companies? Is there an equivalent? or is this company the only one
that couples "engineering" type work (Maintenance Planning, or troubleshooting
analysis) with Technical Writing? Is there a certain Job Title I should be
looking for in ads and job postings other than Technical Writer? Is there a
typical Job Title for someone who does the analyzing portion of my job? If so
what are they called?
In short, I don't know what I am......well I hope that I haven't
totally confused too many of you today, and this will probably be my LAST
posting to this forum.....my fingers ache, so I am firing this off now, but if
anyone can clear up this mess for me, I would welcome any and all responses.

The man without a Job Title
Kevin B.
MC&SE Xerox Corp.

"Damn it Jim I am a Doctor, not a Brick Layer"
Dr. McCoy from the original Star Trek........I know how he felt

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