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I was very pleased to see your comment about technical writers being asked to
take tests in technical illustration, and I agree with you. I'm sure that you
realise that you are close to the receipt of numerous "flames" from those who
are unable to see "the wood for the trees" or the tasks for the job.
As long as we continue to use the term, technical writer, we must accept that
there are other tasks within our profession, i.e., technical editors,
illustrators, computer operators (dtp), etc. Combined, we may imagine all of
these tasks to be in the realm of a technical communicator, but let us never
forget the individual tasks. In my opinion, this is an enormous problem in
the area of staff recruitment - at both the agency and company levels.
Before I continue, of course there are occasions when a company,
unfortunately, will want a technical communicator capable of doing all things,
and "all the worlds a stage", but, please, never forget the many tasks in any
I hope that those like Bruce will accept that a writer, who is only a writer,
could be a very useful person. Just like the editor, translator, etc. If the
illustrator is to be capable of editing a block of text, I would be very
worried about the skills of his writer and editor and, equally, would be
interested in the availability of professionally written job descriptions.
Imagine, for a moment, a situation where two people have been given
responsibility for the graphic appearance of a document (in a job
description). This could introduce, unneccessary, staff unrest, simply
because little thought was given to the job description.
Naturally, to ask, at the interview, questions of graphics of a writer, or
questions of text of an illustrator, are acceptable, as long as we do not lose
sight of the fact that these, although very useful questions, may be regarded
as additional responsibilities. For example; Can you write? Yes = 2 points.
Can you illustrate? Yes = 1 point (for a writer).
I am reminded of an earlier thread, in which the following would be a good
example (and will maintain much reading of my personal e-mail); Can you
write? Yes = 3 points. Can you use MS Word? Yes = 2 points. Can you use
FrameMaker? Yes = 1 point. Sorry, I just couldn't control my wry sense of
Summary: Task, Job, Responsibility?
"Had you known what I was saying, you would have excused me, and had you known
what you said, I should have blamed you. But you did not understand me, so
you blamed me, and I knew that you were ignorant, so I pardoned you."