RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment

Subject: RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 11:14:31 -0800

Nope! I noticed all those things, and I disagreed with your approach. It's a
perfectly valid response, one of many that are possible.

Tech writers as a group (not all, obviously) have a tendency to do a couple
of things that I really don't like and that I will advocate against whenever
I get the opportunity. :-) The first is to feel themselves powerless.
Honestly, I suspect that the administration in this case has little idea
what the needs of the IT writers are. I also suspect they'd be fine with the
idea of including MMoS to *supplement* AP. When directives like this come
down, I take many things into account but I realize that I have experience
and knowledge others may not have. They may also have perspectives that I
don't have. So I talk to them, but I don't let that make me powerless. I
don't check my knowledge and experience at the door and feel like I'm going
to be in trouble if I hold my ground. Now, Wendy may not feel powerless at
all; it's simply my standard observation that writers frequently do and that
no one has to.

The other thing I don't like is getting all worked up over which style guide
is appropriate, font, word processor, blah, blah, blah. (No, I'm not saying
that tools and things aren't important.) People outside of tech comm feel
free to express preferences about these things. Sometimes I have the ability
to control them, and sometimes I don't. If I don't, I work with the tools
I'm given. Most of the time, no one else is invested enough to care what
decisions I make. I think we assume hostility and rigidity when in reality
there is little as long as we approach things in a professional and
non-emotional manner. Only if there is a serious impediment do I worry about
something. In this case, the administration has a stake in ensuring that all
internal communications have some common underpinnings. That doesn't mean
that some communications don't have additional requirements.

As you say, Wendy, who is on the ground, has to make the ultimate decision
about what's appropriate. But asking for advice from the list means getting
a whole slew of options, which she must then decide to apply (or not). One
thing I will modify from my original post is that I do think Wendy should
bring her concerns to the attention of the administration by finding out how
rigid the policy is and did they take into account IT needs before making
her case. It may be a very simple matter to resolve. But I'd do that before
I resorted to building business cases and doing research, etc.

At my last contract, company policy was that dogs were allowed at
headquarters. Then they weren't. It took three tries and numerous complaints
to come up with a policy that met everyone's needs/wants in ONE building of
many. Sometimes these things take time to work out.


-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of k k
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 9:37 AM
Subject: RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment

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RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment: From: k k

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