Re: Techie First or Writer?

Subject: Re: Techie First or Writer?
From: Jane Aronovitch <jaron -at- INFORAMP -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 14:02:02 -0400

Mike Wing wrote:
>Personally, I only spend 20% of my time writing...

Th e skills/tools debate is a real issue. At our October Toronto STC
meeting, two employer/clients presented what they look for when they hire
technical communicators.

One of them provided a long list of skills they're interested in. The list
included use of online and multi-media authoring tools, web site
development, even programming.

Writing was missing from the list.

When questioned about this, the rep replied that of course writing was a
basic skill that everyone should have. But the skills on the list seemed
more important to him (and he does the hiring). However, the other employer
felt strongly that writing and the ability to communicate were primary
skills, and that anyone could learn to use a tool.

Several of my colleagues and I have been struggling with this question for
some time, as has the STC's Job Competencies Committee. Is our main value
our ability to structure and communicate information so it is accessible,
easy to use, effective? Or is our primary asset the ability to use the
latest tools? Where should we concentrate our professional development
energies--in honing our communication skills or learning new applications?

To some extent, the answert depends on how we see the future. My feeling is
that what we contribute is the ability to structure and present information
clearly regardless of the medium. Part of what we do is to determine the
best format for the information, so being able to use different tools is
clearly an advantage. Perhaps the ideal is a combination. But ultimately I
think our strength is the ability to communicate effectively.
Jane Aronovitch
Business and Technical Communications Specialist

Tel: 416-534-7083
Fax: 416-534-4241
Email: jaron -at- inforamp -dot- net

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