Re: Culture, or What it means to be a Te

Subject: Re: Culture, or What it means to be a Te
From: "Morris, Michael" <MORRIS -at- COTR -dot- BC -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 08:11:05 -0600

Thank you Katherin. I'm just completing the curriculum for a postgrad course in Preparing User Documentation, and you've summed it all up for me.


Michael Morris
Canadian Institute for New Media, Research and Development
Cranbrook BC
morris -at- cotr -dot- bc -dot- ca

Usually when I explain to people what I do as a tech writer I say that
I'm a "translator," taking complex, convoluted engineering stuff and
turning it into understandable English. That, to me, is the challenge
and thrill of being a technical writer: "How can I take this engineering
functional spec and translate it into something clear, concise,
task-oriented and interesting?" When I put it like that, it makes sense
to the person I'm talking to and they think it's really cool.

I agree that it really makes no difference WHAT you're documenting; we
are translators. We stand in the unique position of being able to
interpret between engineers/programmers and lay people. We have the
ability to communicate on both levels-complex, highly technical,
detailed information on one hand, and plain English on the other. What
we do really does make or break the product, whatever it may be, because
without good documentation, the user can't effectively use the product,
or can't use it at all. The powers that be may not understand this, but
we should.

Kathy Stanzler
Technical Writer
Brooktrout Technology Inc.
Southborough, MA
(508) 229-7777 ext. 182
kking -at- brooktrout -dot- com

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