Re: Techie First or Writer?

Subject: Re: Techie First or Writer?
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 08:06:03 -0500


>So even 40-50 years ago, the techie-to-writer or writer-to-techie debate was
>engaged. The debate was the same then as now. The results were the same
>then as now. Have we learned anything from history? Apparently not much.

>Dan Wise
>dewise -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

You briefly touched on a key element of this discussion. That is,
"before word processors and machines that could illustrate had been
invented". If the only skills required of a Technical Writer today were
language skills, I would say that we have not learned anything from
history. However, language skills are now only one component of
technical communication.

Personally, I only spend 20% of my time writing. I cannot speak for
other writers; however, I suspect many have similar tasks. The
following are some of the tasks which consume the other 80% of my time:

Learning-testing the product - No language skills involved here, but it
seems important to write from the perspective of "one who knows" or at
least has tried.

Writing/testing example code - No language skills involved here, either.
I write programmer's reference documents. It's a good idea that maybe I
do some programming (albeit, very, very simple programs)

Designing the document (or parts of the document) for reuse - Still no
language skills involved. This is a 'must' skill' for O-O

Implementing/testing context-sensitivity - No language skills involved
here (except for help ids). If you don't think this skill takes much
time and effort on the part of a Technical Writer, you must not document
software :^)

Illustrating and animating portions of the document - Some language
skills involved (captions, call-outs, and so forth). Some things are
better communicated visually!

Mike Wing

_/ 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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