RE: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?

Subject: RE: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?
From: "Rock, Megan" <Megan -dot- Rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 14:41:08 -0500

>>Tracy Boyington wrote:

> I don't see the connection. Is taking a computer apart and
> putting it back
> together really necessary? I don't think so. I've never done
> it, but that
> doesn't affect my ability to pick up and learn any software I
> want/need to
> learn. That's like saying I couldn't drive a taxi for a
> living because I can't
> take an engine apart and put it back together. Or am I
> missing the joke?

I think the idea is that a technical writer needs to be quite computer
literate in order to be an efficient and productive employee. And "computer
literate" means different things depending on the kind of tech writing job
you have. I agree that it isn't necessary to know how to take a computer
apart and put it back together, but I've found that in my job as a technical
writer it is a useful skill! I've had to add RAM to my computer (waiting
for IS to do it would have taken at least four weeks and I needed it
IMMEDIATELY, so I installed it myself) and just the other day I removed a
hard drive from one computer and installed it in my own to give me more hard
disk space. Had to figure out how to set the jumpers, too. I liken all of
that to being a taxi driver and knowing that an engine needs oil to run
smoothly and gas to run at all, and being able to check oil levels and fill
the gas tank as needed. For my job, having some basic computer maintenance
skills has been pretty beneficial.

> I agree that basic computer skills are extremely important. I
> know someone who
> made it through her first year of a graduate program in tech
> writing without
> ever touching a computer (and would have gone all the way
> through if she hadn't
> accepted a job where they taught her to use a computer).
> Scary, isn't it?

Very scary!! In fact, I'm amazed she managed. My college campus was so
technology-focused that by my senior year all resident students were
required to check their e-mail at least once a day to keep up with
announcements, assignments, and the like. I couldn't have survived without
touching a computer. On top of that, most of our tech writing and graphic
design classes met in a computer classroom. We spent a great deal of time
in the classroom applying the concepts we were learning, often working on
our team projects during class time. It was all very hands-on, and I'm
thankful for that!

Megan Rock
megan -dot- rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com

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