What are We?

Subject: What are We?
From: "Feeman, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- Feeman -at- ALLIEDSIGNAL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 05:55:00 -0700

Hello all. The Phoenix chapter of STC met recently last night (Tuesday)
and the topic was employment. Issues discussed were salaries, software
skill sets, how the job market is looking in the Phoenix area, etc. One
discussion revolved around knowing all the latest software so that as
individuals we can just "plug and play." Yuk. I think this implies
that we would become glorified robots, just taking engineering writeups
and plugging them into software programs. My big concern is that other
aspects of technical communication were not addressed as being part of a
person's skill set. Such aspects include documentation layout, user
needs and analysis, program management, writing and talking
(communication) in general, just to name a few. The people on the panel
made it sound like as technical writers (not technical communicators
which I believe many of us are) we need to know every single piece of
new technology that comes out. I believe this to be in error. The
reason being is that as human beings, we can only be really good at a
few things, focusing energies, and becoming really proficient at what we
like. I do not believe that as communicators that it is possible to be
good at a lot of things. A person can be mediocre at a lot of softwares
and technologies, but not really good. I think that in technical
communication, like many aspects of life, the individual can not do many
things well. Sometimes I get the impression that people on this list
and in our Phoenix chapter are really focusing on the mechanics and
software of technical communication and not being the bridge between the
techies and the layman's audience. Afterall, if we are truly a society
of technical communicators, should we not be called such, instead of
technical writers?

Another comment before I shut down my brain for the evening: During the
panel discussion there were several criteria that makes a good or bad
technical writer (e.g. mediocre to semi-good writing and editing skill
makes up a poor or bad technical writer, a large software skill base
makes a good technical writer etc.). I think that as technical
communicators, we need to be careful how we classify each other and
different types of writing. My point being, an individual can be a
mediocre to poor technical writer/editor and yet be a great technical
communicator. The reason I say this is that a person may have great
document management skills, ability to identify customer needs and do an
analysis, project tracking etc. in addition to document design, Web
Pages, etc., yet have mediocre writing and editing skills. I think we
pigeon-hole technical writers as being "just writers" or documentation

I would appreciate any input on this topic. Instead of tying up this
bandwidth, please feel free to write me at:

kevinf -at- primenet -dot- com


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