Re: Note Taking, That's not my job, whatever.

Subject: Re: Note Taking, That's not my job, whatever.
From: Dave Meek <dave -at- SYNERGEX -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 15:56:56 -0700

At 06:10 PM 7/25/96 -0400, Lisa Higgins (a.k.a.
eilrh -at- exchange -dot- wcc -dot- lucent -dot- com) wrote:
>I think many of you are missing the point.
>I'm not doing anyone any favors if I accept a secretarial role with a
>senior tech writer's experience, education, and SALARY. I don't take
>shorthand, I'm not a great typist, and I make more money than a
>secretary. Granted, once I got the hang of it, I'm sure I could produce
>an end document that was better written than one a secretary produced,
>but why? The audience and shelf life for meeting minutes are both pretty
>small, comparatively. Unless you're on a government contract and are
>TRYING to spend money, it just doesn't make sense to throw a real tech
>writer at a job like this.

Admittedly, I haven't followed this particular thread too closely (it all
seems a bit silly to me), but I agree with Lisa.

My manager, who is also a technical writer, wanted the rest of the tech.
writers to take minutes at project meetings under the assumption that:

a) We would be looked upon as *the* source of information, and thus gain
power in that respect.
b) We would become more involved in the project.

The sad truth is that we spent more time ensuring the minutes were correct
and complete than concentrating on the information that was of particular
benefit to our technical writing tasks. We also spent a considerable amount
of well-paid time drafting and disseminating the minutes, and then putting
them on the company's internal web. Not one second of this extra time went
toward producing better documentation.

In addition, our coworkers began to look upon us not as professional
information sources, but as secretaries. We haven't been able to shake that
image ever since. We have occasionally been pulled into meetings strictly
to take notes, which is, dare I say, contra-positive to improving or
producing documentation.

Individual situations vary, but in general I take whatever notes *I* need,
which are available to anyone who wants them. If others want me to play
secretary, I don't outright refuse, but I do bring the situation to the
attention of my manager (whose duty it is to make sure others understand
what a technical writer is and is not supposed to do).

If your manager is not strong enough to draw the line between technical
writing and secretarial duties, you may have to do both to keep your job.
But I would also be looking for employment elsewhere.

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