Re: I am Tech Writer

Subject: Re: I am Tech Writer
From: Pete Kloppenburg <pkloppen -at- CERTICOM -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 10:46:02 -0500

Beth Kane writes:
> I've long found STC's presumption that we should all want to be
> called "technical communicators" distasteful. . . *snip*
> Now that I've actually got a job that has Writer in its title, I'm
> gonna keep it, by god!

Bravo!!! My girlfriend is also in the business (by sheer coincidence)
and recently went through the process of coming up with a
new job title. They considered all manner of absurd phrases,
including the inscrutable "information designer." They settled
on TC, but I for one abhor the name.

I describe myself as a writer proudly. It's something people
recognize immediately, and if your definition of writing is
broad enough, it covers the range of things we do. The urge
to rename the profession is essentially a politically correct one:
it stems from the belief that if you force people to call you what
you want to be called, they will somehow think better of you.

I believe that that strategy is only effective in certain instances
(for example, the movement from "fireman" to the more gender
neutral "firefighter" ) but that "technical writer" to "technical
communicator" is not one of them. Not only does it sound dumb,
but it breaks all sorts of aesthetic and rhetorical rules. Who, for
God's sake, isn't a communicator? Why go from the nice, familiar,
anglo-saxon concrete word "writer" to the obnoxious, latinate,
abstract term "communicator"?

Now, just to stir the pot a little more, if I were forced at gunpoint
to renounce the title "writer", I would have to pick the term
"documentation developer". At least in the software industry, it
describes very well what we do.

Pete Kloppenburg
Certicom Corp
Mississauga, Ontario,
Canada.

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