Re: 'author' vs. 'write'

Subject: Re: 'author' vs. 'write'
From: Jim Purcell <jimpur -at- MICROSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 13:51:53 -0700

Stephen Victor writes:

> And, as others have pointed out, Webster's Collegiate defines the
> verbal
> form of the word as "to be the author of."
> Maybe I'm dense today, but I'm having some trouble with defining "to
> author" as both "to write" and "to be the author of." I think my
> difficulty lies in equating the two definitions, because they seem
> different to me. The first clearly implies an action, but the second
> seems to be more a description of the person, almost an essential
> definition.
> I could be splitting hairs here, but I think Diane is on the right
> track. "To author" seems to describe more than what's happening; it
> also
> describes who's doing it.
If "to author" is no more than a slightly more general synonym for "to
write," its only purpose is decorative. ("After authoring seventeen
plays and two books of poems, he turned his attention to the novel."
Sounds like something from Time Magazine, doesn't it?) In that case, it
isn't especially useful to technical writers.

If we use "to author" to distinguish working in multimedia or hypertext
from the more conventional forms of writing, it has some merit. A
logical place to look for acceptance of this usage, aside from
documentation for authoring software, is in resumes. If you start seeing
a lot of resumes that say things like "Authored corporate Web site" or
"Authored CBT for fork lift operators," you can conclude that this more
modern sense of "to author" has arrived.

Jim Purcell
jimpur -at- microsoft -dot- com
My opinions, not Microsoft's

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