Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: Damien Braniff <Damien_Braniff -at- PAC -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 09:21:41 +0100

I also share some of Andrew Plato's worries about non-technical TWs. The
balance seems to have shifted over the years from engineers/programmers etc
who could write (and enjoyed writing) towards people who train as TWs with
a degree/diploma etc in TWing. I applaud this move towards
"professionalism" (I'm doing an MA myself in TW) but I do have some
worries. I have looked at some of the programs offered to TW students and
wonder how/where they will get the background knowledge to get them
started. You can be a "qualified" TW but if you don't have a background
in, for example, electronics, I do not see how you are going to start
documenting a complicated piece of electronic kit.

My degree was in Cybernetics (bit of everything - prgramming, electronics,
maths, ....!) and I started writing documenting software from the source
code. I then moved on to documenting Radar and Sonar systems - I knew
nothing about these but had the basic electronics knowledge (read circuit
diagrams etc) and could thus pick things up quite quickly. Shortly after I
started this a new "hot-shot" contractor started (I was also contracting)
who was well up on Sonar and would provide an overview doc for everyone to
read. I'd only been there a few weeks but had already picked up enough to
realise what he produced was total rubbish - he lasted less than 6 months!

Still, in my 15 years as an author, I've never met another author where
writing was their first job!

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
PAC International

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