RE: Technical Writers or Information Developers?

Subject: RE: Technical Writers or Information Developers?
From: Brent L Jones <bjones -at- VersatileSoftware -dot- com>
To: "'edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com'" <edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 11:17:49 -0600

edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com wrote on 27 September 1999 10:31:

> All right, I concede the point. By the dictionary definition
> of develop and
> developer I agree that "Information Developer" can be an
> acceptable term.
> However, I still don't like it.
> TC seems to best say it for me. We communicate technical
> information, hence we
> are technical communicators. I'd even prefer Content Developer.
> I think perhaps my gut reaction is that Information
> Developer, to me, seems to
> smell a little pretentious. Seems to be a title chasing the perceived
> glory/recognition of Software Developer instead of defending
> the position/title
> on its own merit.


I worked for a major telco based in Denver CO USA <g> for a few years in the
early 90s, and the doc group there called themselves IDs. I agree
wholeheartedly w/ your thoughts on *why* the term came to be--it involved a
desperate attempt to hijack the respect accorded software developers rather
than an attempt to more accurately describe the job and its functions. I
thought it silly and ineffective--you earn respect through your abilities
and what you produce and accomplish, not through overblown, inaccurate,
ambiguous titles. Only in a large bureaucratic company could such
doublespeak be dished out w/ a straight face.

Personally, I don't see the need for a new coinage. "Technical writer" is
clear and straightforward. I've heard people chaff against it because they
feel it's too limiting and doesn't accurately describe what we do today, but
in my experience organizations expect "technical writers" to be adept at a
vast array of things beyond what the term meant 10 or 20 years ago. I'd
rather see the implicit and explicit understanding of the term "technical
writer" expand, rather than a huge crowd of spurious job titles spring up.

If we *must* use a new term, "technical communicator" is a more acceptable
coinage than ID in that it seems a sincere effort to reflect what the
profession involves and how it is broadening in scope.

Of course, the upshot is that I'll use whatever my company wants me to use,
at least on my business card and in my .sig file. But I'd be leery of
working for a company w/ overblown names for job functions; to me it seems
to indicate a politically oriented culture, where titles and perceived
status mean more than getting anything done.

And don't get me started on "knowledge engineer."

Just my opinion, and no offense intended if you're working as an ID or KE
and like the designation. Tastes, of course, vary.

Brent Jones, Documentation Manager
Versatile Software, Boulder CO
brent -dot- jones -at- versatilesoftware -dot- com

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