Re: Department name

Subject: Re: Department name
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 1996 07:17:55 PDT

Sara Brown writes:

>We are in the midst of changing our department name from Documentation
>to something more contemporary.

>[...] So far, we've come up with the following (euphimisms):

>o Information Development
>o Knowledge Transfer
>(and multiple combinations thereof)

>Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?

You're right: the euphemisms are bad. Having worked on some product
marketing, let me assure you that can't normally get a title to carry
all the baggage that you want it to shoulder. Take "Pepsi-Cola,"
for instant. Where would the Pepsi Corporation be if the concept
that their product was a cola that might make you feel a little
pep-sy was all people knew about them? Their relatively pathetic
name was backed up by a product (which is what really counts), plus
(to a lesser extent) advertising. The product's actual name is
more or less irrelevant except at the first encounter. (Do you
equate "Mountain Dew" with "bootleg whiskey"?)

"Technical Writing Department" is good. "Information Development" and
"Knowledge Transfer" both have ominous Big Brother connotations, to my
mind. "Information Development" sounds like a euphemism for "Lies"
(we expect that truth only requires exposition; only lies require
development). "Knowledge Transfer" sounds like "Brainwashing," since
under normal conditions the transfer of knowledge is under the control
of the reader; writers submit work for the reader's consideration.

Also, I feel that it's totally ludicrous for a tech writing group to
adopt a name that will cause people to say, "What the hell is THAT?"
and have to be told, "It's the tech writing group." You might as well
name your department, "The People Who Are Paid to Write Clearly, But

If you want to promote your department and its works, go ahead and promote
it. The name is fairly unimportant, unless it leads to confusion or makes
people laugh at you.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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