Re: Certification - My Turn

Subject: Re: Certification - My Turn
From: Yvonne DeGraw <yvonne -at- SILCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 08:14:44 -0700

Larry Kunz wrote:

>Yvonne DeGraw mentioned Michele Jackman, who spoke to the Santa
>Barbara STC Chapter about "New Attitudes for New Ways of Working":

>> One of her comments was that job-hopping is the trend for the
>> future and "technical communication is frog city." She claimed
>> that certification stifles the growth and creativity in a
>> profession. She said that rather than "defining the limits of the
>> pond, we should be naming the lily pads."

>I like Ms. Jackman's premise, and I love her metaphor. I'm a little
>mystified, though, as to why she says what she says about
>certification. If job-hopping is becoming the norm (and it is),
>couldn't certification be helpful both to job seekers and to
>employers? Could you elaborate a little bit, Yvonne?

She didn't spend much time on this issue, but I believe that she meant that
when you decide on a fixed set of skills for the certification test, you
limit the field to that set of skills.

For example, if we say that "quality writing" is a core skill, we have
already excluded many technical illustrators and multimedia producers. And,
future job niches may depend even less upon the written word.

I have heard this argument before in regard to technical standards --
anything that has been around long enough to be codified into a standard is
not new enough to be cutting edge. (Who was the keynote speaker at the STC
Annual conference in Silicon Valley? I think I'm paraphrasing him here.)

This brings us (back?) to the question of what profession we want to
certify. The title "technical communicator" does a good job of including
all of us -- even though new forms of technical communication are evolving
constantly. I think it is possible to certify "technical writers" but
impossible to certify "technical communicators."

But, will people who put words on paper continue to be the majority of
technical communicators in the future? For many of us, putting words on
paper is only a part of what we do now, and this trend will likely

Yvonne DeGraw, Technical Services o Web Authoring
yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com o Technical Writing o Database Design and Publishing
Tel: 805/683-5784 o User-Interface Design

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