Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: John Gilger <JohnG -at- MIKOHN -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 07:43:40 -0700

I believe that the problem can be summarized in two words: Political
Correctness. Some schools place more emphasis on socializing the
students than teaching them.

Graduates of "hard" schools like Colorado School of Mines tend to have
their thinking skills more highly developed than graduates from
University of Colorado in Boulder. (Before all you Buffs get in a huff,
this is a general example. My son chose Mines after we investigated
both and I went to neither.)

PC is so pervasive in the classic liberal arts arena that it is hard to
find a program that emphasizes critical thought. Perhaps St. John's in
Maryland still does, but Berkeley, Columbia Harvard, Yale and the rest
of that group have completely sold out to PC.

John Gilger

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Plato [mailto:aplato -at- EASYSTREET -dot- COM]
Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 1998 6:30 AM
Subject: Non-technical, Technical Writers

I have an issue for everyone to ponder.

As you may or may not care, I own a consulting company in Portland, OR.
deal with a lot of agencies and companies and there seems to be one,
overwhelming frustration with a lot of my clients. They cannot find
who can handle technical issues. (Naturally, this is why they hire my
company, but that is different self-serving story.)

It seems like there is a glut of writers who can discern the minute
intricacies of bullet shapes and alignment proportions, but they can't
with anything remotely technical. I am reminded of a writer I worked
with at
a client site. He spent every waking moment at work NOT writing. He
always obsessing over style guides, templates, and font specifications.
When he finally did write a document about this database application I
appalled at his complete lack of understanding for some basic technical
concepts such as database normalization, primary keys, and stored

I just had a long conversation today with an associate at a large
company in the Bay Area. He said that this problem is getting worse.
are more and more non-technical people selling themselves as technical
people. It frustrates them because their clients expect the consultants
be the technical experts.

I am curious what you and your company do about this problem. How do
deal with non-technical people selling themselves as being technical?
someone starts obsessing over the shape of bullets and completely
the fact that the material in question is technically inaccurate what do
do? Fire them? Beat them with a 2x4? Send them to Dan Dorfman's
for Technical Underachievers?

It seems to me that the more non-technical, technical writers there are
the more it hurts those of us that work very hard stay current with the
latest technologies. I'm not talking about knowing how to use the
version of FrameMaker. I mean knowing the nitty-gritty technical details
about the technologies you are documenting.

I'll be up-front and admit I have a hidden agenda for asking this
I am really interested in collecting some horror stories about this as
as how those situations were resolved. This is for a special project I
working on.

Send your responses to aplato -at- anitian -dot- com . I'll post a summary to the
in a few weeks.


Andrew Plato
Owner/Principal Consultant
Anitian Technology Services


Previous by Author: Re: Employment Status
Next by Author: Re: Employment Status - Summary to date
Previous by Thread: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
Next by Thread: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads