Re: A Technical Writer by Any Other Name

Subject: Re: A Technical Writer by Any Other Name
From: d r <writeagain -at- JUNO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 21:04:18 EST

Sometimes I feel that I am in the wrong place but personally I like it
here. I used to write about computer "stuff" [ :-)], but when I was
searching for a listserv for the medical profession, someone told me that
I needed to unsubscribe to the Technical Writers listserv. So here I am.
As a writer/editor, I can relate to a good deal of what is discussed here
although much of it doesn't apply to me at the moment.

Many moons ago, I was offered a job at a top PR firm, it was for a
Technical Writing Assistant. I got there, pulled out my portfolio and was
told to take a typing test. Huh? No test. No interview. Typed 90 wpm.
Walked back. Was told I needed to take a "Grammar test". Believe it or
not, I pointed out an error that was accidently on the test sheet -- no
one else had caught it. When I got to the interview, I was seen by 3
people. Finally, I was called in by the Department Manager. She said, "I
have good news and bad news" I thought "ohoh". Boy, did she ever surprise
me. The good news was that I got the job if I wanted it. The bad news was
that the title meant ALL secretarial work!!!

D.R.

On Wed, 15 Jan 1997 14:12:42 PST Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
writes:
>I've gained the impression that big fluffy titles are often used to
>mask low status. In particular, "Specialist" is often used to
>mean "technician" or "someone whose last title was 'secretary.'"
>Thus, a title like "Technical Documentation Specialist" implies
>"word processor" or "secretary to the writing manager" to me.
>
>The real problem with titles is that "Technical Writer" is used
>to indicate three types of positions:
>
>1. Technical writers,
>2. Editors of one kind or another,
>3. Secretaries, word processors, or DTP operators.
>
>I've seen engineers who were unable to grasp the idea that a technical
>writer might be different from a DTP operator. After all, at their
>previous companies they had never seen a technical writer do anything
>other than formatting and light copy-editing.
>
>I once interviewed a man with for an opening I had for an experienced
>technical writer. It turned out that he had never written anything,
>and didn't expect that he ever would write anything. Nor did he want
>to.
>He had fifteen years' experience as a "technical writer" for a
>prominent
>high-tech company. His tasks were apparently limited to light
>copy-editing,
>managing review cycles, and word processing. Secretarial work.
>
>I think that THIS is why writers tend to shy away from putting
>"technical writer" on their business cards.
>
>My solution is to put "President" on my business card. But if
>I were back in the trenches, I'd ask that my card say:
>
> Robert Plamondon
> Writer
>
>I could thus grab the entire mystique surrounding authors without
>invoking the abused term "technical writer" at all. This is much
>better than resorting to euphemism, in my opinion.
>
> -- Robert
>--
>Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
>36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
>robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139
>
> TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a
>message
>to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send
>commands
> to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
> Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
>browse the archives at
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>

TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
browse the archives at http://listserv.okstate.edu/archives/techwr-l.html


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