Re: 'author' vs. 'write'

Subject: Re: 'author' vs. 'write'
From: Dan BRINEGAR <vr2link -at- VR2LINK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 23:41:06 -0700

My digest arrived broken this evening, so I can't tell if this topic has
already been *quite* beat to death...<smile> at any rate, I haven't seen
*my* definition posted <grin> ('cos I haven't posted it yet), so I'll plow

"Writing" can involve scribbling on yellow pads with stubby pencils, typing
in a text processor, or creating complete, structured documents from
scratch in a really nifty publishing system...

"Authoring" (at least where the term was in vogue at a couple of early
jobs) generally involved using that really nifty publishing system to
organize, map, and make useful, stuff that someone else "wrote;" with very
little control over the content on my part --

That is, I (as acting chief deputy associate info developer) could import
the 2000-word block of engineerese that was in the original paper manual,
find relevant illustrations, "pseudo-map" the text and break it out into
procedure tables and bulleted lists according to Information Mapping (tm)
principles, and then plug it into our "authoring" template for delivery

It was kinda fun, because pseudo-mapping always revealed big logical-holes
in the original "author's" text; but heaven help us if we added more than
an "and," "the," "a/an," "or," or "be" without prior approval from the
original author or pub manager (if the original writer had quit, retired or

Now, if I have to show off these samples with more-recent work, I say that
I "wrote" the newer stuff [holding up Java manual], and "developed" the
older stuff [holding up unclassified fragment of the Frame Migration
project], 'cos if I say "I authored this" at an interview, they either look
at me funny, or wonder how much work was *really* involved in simply
gathering up blocks of text and a few illustrations and throwing them in a
template... I mean, that's *easy* for anyone with basic computer literacy
and excellent communications skills, isn't it?


Isn't it?

And, now, of course, I find Wally Glassett's response :

>>I'm glad we've finally agreed that it's ok to author things. The term
>>can also be used to describe a group or collaborative effort where more
>>traditional terms such as editor or manager are not completely accurate.
>>Wally Glassett

>Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 09:44:15 -0500
>From: Mary Howe <thunder -at- IDIR -dot- NET>
>Subject: 'author' vs. 'write'
>Here's a picky little question:
>What is the difference between the verbs 'to author' and 'to write'?
>I've never used 'author' myself because I just thought it was a social
>dialect variation (like 'home' and 'house', 'drapes' and 'curtains',
>'frosting' and 'icing', etc.).
>I'm posting this here because 'to author' appears to have a special
>meaning to technical writers. If this turns into a discussion of the
>connotations/dialect differences among all the words above, let's take
>it to copyediting-l.
>Mary Howe
>Thunder Works, Inc.
>Writing and Editing Services
>thunder -at- idir -dot- net
>> Here's a picky little answer. :) "Author" is not a verb; it is a noun.
>> Authors write, but writers do not "author."
>> Regards,
>> Steve
>>However, I have heard it frequently used in the context of preparing course
>>materials, rather than manuals. A back formation from the CBT program
>>Authorware? Technical writers write; course developers author.
>>--Wayne Douglass

>>A phrase I still remember from my introductory philosophy course: "a
>>distinction without a difference." IMHO, 'author' vs. 'write' illustrates
>>the case perfectly.
>>--Wayne Douglass
>>If we use "to author" to distinguish working in multimedia or hypertext
>>from the more conventional forms of writing, it has some merit..... this more
>>modern sense of "to author" has arrived.
>>Jim Purcell
>>jimpur -at- microsoft -dot- com

Dan BRINEGAR Information Developer/Research Droid/Mac Guy <--- Under Construction

Reruns, according to futurist Watts Wacker, are Modern America's
version of oral history.

vr2link -at- vr2link -dot- com

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