I am in wrong field (was Re: I am Tech Writer)

Subject: I am in wrong field (was Re: I am Tech Writer)
From: Mitch Berg <mberg -at- IS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 10:13:31 -0600

I have two problems with this subject:

1) While "status" is not a vital part of my life, the absence of it (or
its' corollary, respect) is getting old. Let's face it - at most
organizations, whatever our title, we have a level of status somewhere
between office temps and boat people. The stereotype of the tech writer
(often a fair one) is that we are, by choice or by job description
primarily oriented toward sitting in the corner, head-down, cranking out
"documents" - the communication equivalent of calling music "product".

When one approaches engineers with ideas about enhancing the system
design, usability or human factors, the fact that I AM a "tech writer",
or any other such term, is an albatross around my neck - and overcoming
it has been the hardest thing I've had to try to overcome in my career.

2) Yeah, I prefer "Tech Writer" to "TechComm", or worse - any term
descended from the root "Document". Why?

Pete Kloppenburg wrote:

> 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.

This is a personal quirk - long before I got into TechComm, I had an
irrational loathing of all words descended from the root "Document". I
can listen to fingers screeching on the chalkboard all day, but all
words derived from "Document" make my skin crawl. (Not a great problem
for a tech writer to have, huh?). I write around the D-word at every
opportunity. You will find the word in NONE of my deliverables! It's
overly generic, overused, and not at all clear in most cases. Why call
something a "Document", when a more descriptive term (Reference, Guide,
Manual) no doubt exists?

Less personally, when applied as part of a job description, to me,
"Document..." implies that one's career is focused on the "development
of documents" - in other words, someone who cranks out generic pieces of
paper. It's analogous, to me, with calling a cook a "food product
processor", or calling a musician a "purveyor of musical material".
Would you call a surgeon a "human tissue reassembler"?

Call me anything - Tech Writer, Info Developer, even Ex-Convict for all
I care. If you put any variant of "Document" in my job title, I'll yakk
back...

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