RE: Are best practices standards?

Subject: RE: Are best practices standards?
From: Ellen Black <eblack -at- usdata -dot- com>
To: "'Sharon Burton-Hardin'" <sharonburton -at- earthlink -dot- net>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 13:59:23 -0500

I think the reason so many tech writers have a terrible time with their
bosses is:

a) most doc managers do not have a technical writing background
b) most people (be they managers or not) think that if one can speak then
one can write

-----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Burton-Hardin [mailto:sharonburton -at- earthlink -dot- net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 1:16 PM
Cc: bbatorsk -at- admin -dot- nj -dot- devry -dot- edu
Subject: Re: Are best practices standards?

I said that I am not sure it is best represented as creative. If programmers
were completely creative, havoc would result. if we were completely
creative, the same result would occur. For one thing, it is hard to make an
artist meet a deadline because, as they say, you cannot force creativity.

I think the field (tech writing and programming) has a lot of creativity in
it, but I am not sure that is it best thought of as a creative profession. I
think that we must have some standards that we adhere to.

Now, coming up with creative (and often elegant) solutions to problems is
different than having a creative profession. We do that all the time. But so
do lots of not-artistic professions, such as electricians, tile layers, auto
mechanics, mathematicians, etc. (Dammit, Jim!) I'm a writer, not an artist.
Most of the people I know in programming and tech writing are not artists,
either, in their work. Perhaps outside our work, but not in it. Not as a
definition of doing the work.

I see both sides of this but we may not be helping ourselves as a profession
by insisting we are _by definition_ a creative profession. We struggle to be
taken seriously as a group and I think it may be harder if we insist that
what we do is (black magic, non-reproducible, hard to explain to others)
artistic work. I think we may be better off focusing on the structured,
reproducible, logical (structured) parts of what we do, as do most of the
programmers I know.

Please don't flame me as though I am suggesting I have the truth. I don't. I
am trying to objectively look at both sides here and trying to also figure
out why, in a recent survey I am putting the results together for, nearly
every tech writer said that they have a terrible time being taken seriously
by their bosses. I expect the programmers at those companies don't have this
problem. The question is why. Perhaps this is part of it.


Sharon Burton-Hardin
President of the Inland Empire chapter of the STC
Anthrobytes Consulting
Check out!

Connie said:
| Creative masters use tools, paintbrushes, chisels, typewriters, to convey
| message, whether verbal or visual. Isn't that what we do? Andrew is
| right--standards are tools. They're the means to an end not the end
| God help me if I ever stop being creative in what I do-trying to look at
| ways to present information, new ways to write it clearly. Somebody tell
| what's not creative about that!
| BTW I'm a regularly employed TW :)
| Connie Giordano

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