Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: "Amy G. Peacock" <apeacock -at- WOLFENET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 15:40:37 -0700

Thanks Tim for giving me the "in" to voice a thought on all

Tim brings up a good point here. As a self-proclaimed newbie I have
definitely felt a leaning towards 'pick the right tool and you'll
be all right.' Not that I am not extremely grateful for all the info
people have given me, because I am.

However, the more I get into my job and the more people ask me to
do (where does it all end?) the more I notice that I don't have the
basic knowledge/skill/principles to really take me somewhere in this
field. Some may say that I should quit and come back when I've got
a degree or more knowledge about the field in general. They may be
right, but I'm not going to do it. For me, I am having a great time
trying to combine 'learning' with 'doing'. Does it overwhelm me? You
betcha! Do I consider myself the technical type? Nope. Where my
interest lies is in helping the user - being a mentor on paper if you

I don't *want* to be like Tim's 'baby bird.' But I have been pushed
into that role by my circumstances. There's got to be another way. I
think the idea of mentoring is a great idea.(Any takers in the Seattle
area?) There are so many ways to learn - we should take advantage of

Amy Peacock
apeacock -at- wolfenet -dot- com

On Wed, 6 May 1998, Tim Altom wrote:

> Sadly, what this mindset has led to is a cadre of communicators who aren't
> very well versed in fundamentals, preferring to substitute the experience of
> the tool vendor for their own hard work in learning what they should know.
> We see the unfortunate results here on this list, with common questions
> about "Such-and-So miracle tool won't compile my help file. It says
> something about a graphics problem. What's wrong?", a problem that anyone
> who knows the subject well could correct in a matter of minutes.
> We're doing both the profession and the newcomer a disservice, I think.
> We're allowing a generation to develop that sits like baby birds with their
> mouths open, hoping that some newer tool will make their lives easy and
> productive. Many buy PageMaker, but never learn the layout principles that
> have been developed over centuries. They buy PhotoShop, but don't know what
> bitmapped graphics are like. They buy RoboHelp, but don't even know that the
> help compiler is identical for every tool. Many newbies don't even know
> there *are* such fundamentals to learn. Nobody's told them. All they have is
> the mailings from the tool vendors, who never let on that they're hiding
> fundamentals, not teaching them.
> Tim Altom
> Simply Written, Inc.
> 317.899.5882
> Creators of the Clustar Method for task-based documentation

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