Re: Request for change

Subject: Re: Request for change
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 08:09:00 EST

>I'd like to see discussions and questions on bigger issues
>than ones that we can look up in a dictionary or reliable
>reference material. I'm sitting here, looking at TECHWR-L subject
>lines of "state names," "online vs. on-line," "commas and
>lawnmowers," and "restrictive vs. non-restrictive banter
>continues." Frankly, none of those issues are what I'd
>consider central to my job as a technical writer. You
>pick a reference source, stay consistant, and realize that
>someone will find fault with it. Oh, well.


>THOSE are issues. What _ARE_, in our collective opinions,
>the issues of the profession? If they're grammar or
>notation, I'm switching professions. To paraphrase John
>Brinegar, the profession is about helping people do what
>they need to do. Notational discussions are for reference books.

>Comments and criticism of this note, on or off line, would
>be welcome.

Couldn't agree more, and yet couldn't agree less. The true professional is
always in a low-level sweat worrying about "that or which," "type or enter,"
and hundreds of other questions. IMHO, anyone who worries endlessly about
the big picture, but produces work with inconsistent usage, grammar mistakes
and poor word choice is a visionary, not a writer. And I've seen lots of
them. It's embarrassing stuff.

At the same time, it's all too easy to fall into nattering about where to
put the pictures when the whole house needs to be razed and rebuilt. Just as
many of us don't pay enough attention to details, just as many don't worry
enough about bigger issues. Our profession isn't nearly the back office
operation it once was. We're facing questions about our profession's future,
where we fit into the corporate structure, and how we contribute
value-added. And while I read the "that or which" stuff on this group, I'm
much more interested in the bigger questions, things like certification,
safety liability, political correctness, tech doc curricula, and similar

The problem is that there are only so many of the big issues, and we've
covered them in one way or another several times. It gets old, and a little
tiring, whacking away at things we can't affect. We can summarily switch
word usage. We can't just make companies respect us as valued members of a
team. It almost gets to the point of being bitching when the big issues
posts trail off. But I'm with you in spirit...I like it while it's hot.

Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
Technical Documentation and Training
Voice 317.899.5882
Fax 317.899.5987

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