Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: Max Wyss <prodok -at- PRODOK -dot- CH>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 19:26:44 +0200


glad to hear that you feel better <g>.

As it has been said before, there is no unique description of what can be
expected from a technical writer. It may be that such a general description
is either too vague, or not possible at all. It depends a lot on the
industry one is working in.

However, a sound basic knowldedge of the topic is necessary. A cookbook
writer must have a knowledge about cooking. Someone writing maintenance
manuals for 3-phase AC converters must know what a thyristor is. Someone
writing assembly instruction for a gas turbine must know what a rotor is.
Someone writing investment guides must know what futures are. The writer
must also know the language of the information providers (such as the
engineers), as well as the language of the users. It is, IMHO, necessary to
know how both these parties think.

The knowledge does not necessarily need to be very specific, but the writer
must have the ability to extend the knowledge to specifics within a very
short time.

Max Wyss
PRODOK Engineering AG
Technical documentation and translations, Electronic Publishing
CH-8906 Bonstetten, Switzerland

Fax: +41 1 700 20 37
e-mail: mailto:prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch or 100012 -dot- 44 -at- compuserve -dot- com

Bridging the Knowledge Gap


>Speaking from a non-technical perspective I am utterly DISGUSTED with
>several of the posts concerning non-technical, technical writers. It is
>readily apparent that several people feel that if you do not work in a
>"high-tech" firm you are "sub-standard" or "wannabees." I find this
>completely and utterly RIDICULOUS.
>Let me tell you-all of another story of a non-high-tech firm that hired
>a writer to document several internal processes. This writer, with
>years of experience in the high-tech industry, spends his/her entire
>eight-month contract trying to convince his/her supervisor that "what
>this company really needs is a new software system, and more server
>space, and some special codes etc..." instead of actually documenting
>the processes. While this writer was extremely technically proficient,
>he/she missed the point of what a GOOD writer should be, A WRITER.
>I agree that it helps a writer to have some background of what he/she is
>planning on writing, but several of you seem to think that a second
>degree and 10 years experience is the standard. Silly me, I thought a
>GOOD writer was someone that was a team player, could adapt to any given
>situation, and had excellent communication skills.
>As far as companies not finding "qualified" writers--Gee, someone fibbed
>on his/her resume, color me shocked!! And maybe, just maybe, some of
>the responsibility of filling writing positions falls upon the
>employer/agency doing a sufficient check on said candidates...
>Sorry for this little rant, but I'm feeling much better now. And now if
>you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my non-technical, technical
>writing duties.
>Benjamin J. Anderson
>Guaranty Federal Bank-Documentation
>1300 South Mopac
>Austin, Texas 78746
>(512) 434-1788
>banderson -at- gfbank -dot- com

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