Subject: Re: SACRED COWS
From: Beth Agnew <bagnew -at- INSYSTEMS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 08:32:26 -0500

John Gilger wrote:
> It is easier to teach an engineer to write than it is to teach a
"writer" or
> "technical communicator" to understand and explain engineering
> and technology.

You know how holy wars start? By people believing there is only one
right way to do things.
Let me stand up on this very high platform, wave my hands, and say
loudly "It's a continuum, folks! There are many valid, tenable, and
righteous positions in between the two extremes!!!

Gilger's statement is one opinion. He put his stake in the ground just
at that point. I don't agree with him, but I don't feel the need to
explain at length why I don't. It's completely irrelevant, and I have
better things to do with my time.

With more than 25 years in the profession, I've seen engineers who could
write very well, and engineers who were illiterate. (Heck, I've seen
*writers* who could write very well, and some who were illiterate!) I
have seen writers who grasped technical material very quickly, and
others who struggled, but were still able to produce good user
documentation because they could identify with their audience more than
the techies could. It's what we call individual variation. And ain't it

Gee, Gilger might just as well have said "Only tall people can excel at
basketball". :-)

Beth Agnew
Senior Technical Writer, InSystems Technologies Inc.
65 Allstate Parkway, Suite 100 Tel: (905) 513-1400 ext. 280
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 9X1 Fax: (905) 513-1419
mailto:bagnew -at- insystems -dot- com Visit us at:

See my friendly face at:

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