RE: Technical Writers or Information Developers?

Subject: RE: Technical Writers or Information Developers?
From: Karen Field <kfield -at- STELLCOM -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 09:34:40 -0700


I've never liked what I consider to be puffed up titles for what we do. The
best description I've seen is "technical communicator." To use seemingly
more obscure titles like "information developer" or "information organizer"
(as I've seen on another list) seems to violate a basic part of our
jobs--taking complex information and making it simple. It's the equivalent
of writing "Utilize the mouse-tracking device to activate the Cancel
function for your printing endeavor," when you could write, "Click Cancel to
stop printing." When people ask me what I do, I usually have to elaborate
after I say "technical writer"; I can imagine the dissertation I'd have to
offer if I said "information developer."

Just my opinion...
-----Original Message-----
From: Eric J. Ray [mailto:ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, September 27, 1999 9:05 AM
Subject: Re: Technical Writers or Information Developers?

edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com wrote:
> I would have a problem with "information developer" however. To me, this
> not describe what we are supposed to be doing. We present, organise, and
> information but we certainly do not create or develop it.

Sure we do! If we're not _developing_ information, we're merely
regurgitating it (and yes, that's a carefully thought out
analogy...we ingest, slightly process, then leave for someone
else to clean up).

Take, for example, the UNIX book referenced in my .sig. Sure, there's
a ton of information about UNIX out there, and we didn't make up
ANY of it from whole cloth. Does that mean we didn't develop the
information? Not on your life.

The path from a man page (for example) to usable and user-friendly
documentation is NOT a matter of mere presentation, organization,
or filtering. It is a matter of _developing_ the context, the approach,
the "Oh, I get it" factors. We develop information both in the sense
of creating _information_ from raw data, and we develop information in
the photographic sense, of bringing something into clarity where
there previously was nothing.

Certainly, though, technical writers who stop at shuffling words
on a page aren't doing much information development and probably
shouldn't be called information developers. Of course, their readers
likely have a large collection of alternative titles for them,
so we might not need to worry about that one.


Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
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