Re: Culture, or What it means to be a Technical Writer (longish)

Subject: Re: Culture, or What it means to be a Technical Writer (longish)
From: Locke David <dlocke -at- BINDVIEW -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 10:37:17 -0500

It's not just technical culture. It's the technical culture of the
company or development group you work for. Every company has its own
definitions for the technology they are trying to market. It's a tragedy
when the company doesn't pay attention to the market and use a
market-based vocabulary, but market-based vocabularies change too fast
for companies to keep up.

Knowing what polymorphism means won't do you any good in a company that
has its own meaning for that term. Beware of your own background.
Sometimes you just have to ask the questions that make you seem dumb, so
you can understand the company's terminology.

You have to do your ethnographic field notes. Question the simplest
things. And, don't let the person who is explaining something translate
it to you. The person providing the definition has to explain it in
their own terms using their own idiomatic expressions that only have
meaning within their company culture.

The TW doesn't need tech so much as a process for uncovering the tech
culture and finding the ambiguity in that culture.

David W. Locke
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Not Dr. Locke of Help University fame




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