Engineers and Writers

Subject: Engineers and Writers
From: "M. Dannenberg" <midannen -at- SI -dot- BOSCH -dot- DE>
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 10:46:57 +0100

Michael Wing wrote:

> I think that is much, much harder to teach a Writer to subclass objects
> or perform step analysis on a circuit than it is to teach an Engineer
> not to end a sentence with a preposition.

That's a strange idea of what writing is about you have there. I have
one "very special friend" in this company who once gave me flak about
too many punctuation errors in my draft. The guy knows every inane
punctuation rule and obscure spelling you can think of, but his writing
is totally disastrous. Think anal-retentive with a capital hyphen!

> I've not met
> any Technical Writers who can design a circuit to compensate for the
> effects of acceleration on a signal source.

And that's not our job either. Our job is to document the compensation
gizmo the engineering guys came up with. To do that you have to
understand what the thing does, you don't have to be familiar with every
aspect of its inner workings.

> If you don't believe me,
> compare the salaries of Technical Writers to Engineers.

I make more than a lot of developers in the company, and I believe
that's not all that uncommon.

> Writing for us is functional, not artistic. The artistic side to
> writing may be more suitable for other fields of writing.

I don't think you can separate the two. There are plenty of rule-book
toting dillettantes around who think they can write. Good writing,
technical or otherwise, always has an artistic side to it.


Mike Dannenberg
Technical Writer
midannen -at- si -dot- bosch -dot- de

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