Re: Writer's first; Was Re: (no subject heading)

Subject: Re: Writer's first; Was Re: (no subject heading)
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Oct 1996 17:13:15 -0500

I've participated on more than one list catering to technical writers,
>and I've often noticed with dismay that many of our own profession view
>themselves as techies who happen to write rather than writers who document
>technical concepts.

Personally, I don't view the skills as mutually exclusive. I believe
that a tech writer should strive to develop skills in more than one
direction Didn't we have a skill matrix discussion about a month ago?
Oh yeah, here it is.

View in monospace font

(Excellent Tech Writer)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .x
.. ..
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
Personal . . . .
Skills . . . .
(Good)| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
| . . .
| . . .
| . . .
| /Language skills. . . . . ... . . .
| /(good) . .
| / . .
| / . .
| / . .
| / (Poor Tech Writer) . .
(Poor)|/_________________________________.
(Poor) (Good)
Technical Knowledge/Skills

>This may be due to the old practice of hiring technical professionals and
>asking them to write, which, thankfully, is giving way to the practice of
>hiring writers who happen to be adept with technology.

It may be that we tend to play our long suits. For example, a writer
with a journalism background may tend to emphasize interviewing and
organizational techniques. A writer with an English/Language background
may stress proper grammar and clarity. A writer with an Engineering
background may stress technical accuracy.

>It's much easier for a writer to learn technical concepts than for an
>engineer to produce lucid, organized prose.

Don't agree with you here. I think it would be much easier for an
Engineer to learn how to conjugate a verb than it would for a Technical
Writer to learn how to subclass an object or design an AC filter for a
DC power output circuit.

If people don't want to view themselves as writers first, then they
should modify their job title to "writing tech." At least this would
visibly demonstrate that they view quality writing skills as of
>secondary importance, a modifier describing the noun, tech, rather than their
>primary skill which happens to be applied in a technical context.

I would consider correctly conveying instructions and information as the
primary skill. IMO, this skill has components such as a language
component, a logistical component, and a technical component.
Instructions telling a user to push the red button to stop the motor
may be perfectly constructed, but do not help if THERE IS NO RED BUTTON
TO PUSH. Conversely, instructions such as "Locate the green button and
the red button. Push the button." may be technically accurate (pushing
the red button does stop the motor) but ambiguous.

Mike Wing

P.S. To combine merge this topic with another thread and to add a
little gasoline, on average, do the more of the higher salaried writers
seem to "technical" Technical Writers or "linguistic" Technical Writers.




_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
_/
_/ Michael Wing
_/ Principal Technical Writer
_/ Infrastructure Technical Information Development
_/ Intergraph Corporation
_/ Huntsville, Alabama
_/ (205) 730-7250
_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com
_/


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