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While I have no desire to flame Jane (whom I'll be happy to proclaim as One
of The Gurus), or offer any offense in any way; and don't wanna reignite
the Annual Certification Wars prematurely (not scheduled till June, check
the archives ;-)... Let me say this about that....
If the questions under review are
"why aren't we recognized at the same level of professionalism as
"why aren't we paid more than secretaries or simple paste-up specialists
(or always mistaken for being in the same league)?"
Who knows? Shall we spin our wheels and rant (hey, it's not *always* a bad
thing), or identify what we want to do, and go do it!
[while saying to my former 17-year-old self that "NO, I don't think it
just-that-easy" just that it's the goal worth pursuing]
Jane would like us to measure our level of professionalism against several
standards. Let's look at them as if they were applied to
Programmers/Engineers at the same time (based on the programmers *I* know
>>* How many research studies, and books and articles on technical
>>communication issues have you read in the past year?
Programmers/Engineers: How many research studies have you *conducted*?
Books or articles *written*?
Techwriters: Same questions!
Me: I've written four articles, spent wayyy too much time babbling in
TECHWR-L, worked on my "book," and proved once again thru trying to
relearn C++ and Java and getting BSD UN*X to work on my home machine that
I'm a *lousy* programmer (once I write up the results, it'll count as
research, right? ).
>>* Are you a member of a professional organization such as STC?
I don't know many programmers/engineers for whom membership in any
professional org is seen as a job-requirement/plus/detriment -- a result of
the places I prefer to work, no doubt.
In the last year I've been to two or three interviews in which the
interviewer noticed my STC affiliation and proclaimed STC a "bunch of
fuddy-duddy-busybodies with red pencils." Despite my lapsed membership, I
usually feel the need to dispute that characterization. STC and ten years'
communications experience got me *into* this
sometimes-lucrative/satisfying/infuriating/life-affirming bag. I'm still
enormously fond of many many of the folks I know thru STC, whether we've
worked together or not, whether we agree on every aspect of what-it-is
*real* techwriters do, or how closely they've listened to me or dad.
>>* Do you attend conferences, workshops, etc. to keep up with the latest
>>trends and technologies?
Programmers/Engineers: Do you surf every possible medium to find
cool/interesting/useful stuff to learn? What trends and technologies have
you mastered in the last year by download-and-experiment? Jumping in,
thinking it up, and making it work? What workshops have you *presented*?
Techwriters: same same
Me: I can't claim total mastery of the stuff I've surfed-up in the last
year; I've done Java e-commerce, two disasterous vaporware projects ,
resurrected at least 200 Macs (from the 512K to G3) and trained other techs
on them, relearned publishing on CD-ROM (changed a lot in the last five
years). Haven't made any presentations.
>>* Have you pursued professional coursework in technical communication?
Programmers/Engineering: Most of the ones I know are working too late to
get to class; but they do a lot of self-study... a curious lot [gee, that
can be taken more than one way ;-].
Techwriters: This correspondent is unable to answer that question for other
TWs due to insufficient data (although I congratulate Melissa Alton for
working full time *and* taking graduate courses).
Me: No coursework this year. Lots of self-directed study to improve skills
or knowledge. [Roomie still teaches at college, tho!]
>>Or do you think you just "know it" because your boss is satisfied?
I compare the ratio of "attaboys" to "dammit-reports" from users.
Did I make any money in the last year? I'll put it this way; I get a tax
refund from the State of Arizona for the first time in ten years
<smile><tremble>... on the *short* form. Not my worst year, not my best.
Did I just get two jobs because the bosses were satisfied with my previous
It's been exactly one year since I rejoined TECHWR-L; my first post them
was a flame and my latest posts have been (I hope) evangelical.
I feel that this next year offers the best opportunities yet to achieve
those goals I set for myself when I decided to call myself a techwriter.
That's all I can ask, y'know?
So there it is: you may draw your own conclusions about professionalism --
consider, tho, that measures of "professionalism" vary depending on whether
you work for Pointy-Hairs or Anarchic Geek-Synthesists, or whether you
come from an academic background or cut your teeth on being the "poor sod
who had to go out in the rain and fix it." -- we'll never solve that
dilemma thru wrestling in the choir-chamber.
Here in TECHWR-L, we're all *in* the same choir, and choirs need different
voices: may we we find a chance or two to sit-in with another band and
never get laryngitis or stage fright.
At 9:16 AM -0500 4/23/98, Bergen, Jane wrote:
>This whole thread is very interesting but unless I've missed it, one
>aspect has not been discussed and that is whether we are enhancing the
>professional aspect of technical communication in the workplace, or if
>we are part of the problem.
Dan BRINEGAR, CCDB Vr2Link
Performance S u p p o r t Svcs.
"This is not a Fat Guy confined to a wheelchair...
it's a new Telecommuter saving tons on auto insurance."