Re: Tech Writers: Strictly Tech?

Subject: Re: Tech Writers: Strictly Tech?
From: Kent Newton <KentN -at- METRIX-INC -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 09:29:00 PST

On Saturday, February 17, 1996 3:00 AM, Guilden wrote:
>Yet, the posts on this list are generally of a non-technical nature:
>the emphasis appears to be on english syntax (dare I say grammar),
>style, clarity, organization (& problem-solving & philosophical threads
>of course) as opposed to a pure content or development discussion.

>To a point this is rational, since the list doesn't revolve around a
>specific OS or application (e.g., a Java or HTML or VRML discussion),
>other than perhaps common trade tools like HTML or WinHelp or WPs.

>Hence, what's the scoop? Are you engineers-turned-writers or
>writers with a technical bent/experience/talent-for-learning-a-new
>-piece-of-software-on-a-familiar-platform-in-no-time-at-all (has to
>be a word for this somewhere :)?

Interesting question, Guilden.

I am a writer with no formal technical training. I do have a talent for
researching a product (through reading specs, testing the product, and
interviewing SMEs), synthesizing the relevant information, and
communicating that information in a simple, straight-forward way for
non-technical readers (like myself). For many products and users, this
approach would be inadequate: they require detailed technical knowledge.
You would not want me to write the repair manuals for Boeing 747 jet
engine, for example. But I could probably write the manual for a Boeing
747 flight simulator software package.

In addition, and I think this is probably true of everyone in this
profession (techs and non-techs), I am required to design manual layout,
select appropriate typefaces, and produce illustrations for my manuals.
Fortunately, I have some design experience as well.

Kent Newton
Senior Technical Writer
Metrix, Inc.
kentn -at- metrix-inc -dot- com

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