Discussion: Certification vs. Guild

Subject: Discussion: Certification vs. Guild
From: WandaJane Phillips <wandajp -at- ANDYNE -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 1996 13:23:04 -0400

I've mostly stayed out of the discussions about certification for
technical communicators. I wasn't comfortable with the idea for several
reasons but didn't feel I could shoot down an idea when I wasn't even
sure *what* we could certify. We could certify ourselves as barking mad
for even picking up a pen/keyboard and trying to do what we do (as
varied as it is). <g>

Recently, while exploring HTML, I was surfing the net looking at sites
for HTML and came upon the HTML Writer's Guild at http://www.hwg.org/.
And the idea of a guild, with apprentices, journeymen (excuse me), and
master craftsmen (people, sorry again) really appealed to me. Much more
than a piece of paper from someone saying I was certified. I have a
college diploma that says I graduated with honours from the Technical
Writer program, that's worth a lot to me. Partly because I know and can,
in 50 words or less, describe to people what that means. Employers can,
and have, contacted the college to determine what it means.

The idea of a guild appeals to me because there is a notion of community
and craft pride rolled up into the guild. I don't know what would
determine the transition points between apprentice and journeyperson, or
journey and master. But the idea that there is a set of skills that can
be taught through the practice of the craft is appealing to me.

I have grown tired of trying to be a generalist technical writer. I know
I have certain strengths and that areas of our rather vast field of
endeavour are more attractive to me than others. I've been trying to
figure out what I want to do, and in this pondering, I've realized that
we do, already, have our masters. We hire them to teach us and we buy
their books. Apprentices, journeypersons, and masters attend conferences
and share their experiences, pass on their learning. This cannot be

Rambling complete, back to that index (*not* one of my favoured or
particularly skilled activities).


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