**Defining Tech Comm**

Subject: **Defining Tech Comm**
From: "Larry Kunz ((919) 254-6395)" <ldkunz -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 13:46:25 EST

STC's Code for Communicators, which sets forth ethical guidelines
for technical communicators, begins with this sentence:

> As a technical communicator, I am the bridge between those who
> create ideas and those who use them.

That sounds a lot like Jeff Miller's $15,000 description of a
technical communicator as one who encodes a message and sends it
through a channel. (Jeff, is it too late to get your money back?)

Now listen to what Bill Horton, the popular, highly respected writer
and lecturer, has to say: The Code for Communicators definition
*offends* me. It says I'm outside the realm of ideas, that I add
nothing of value to the transaction.

(Horton made those comments, which I've paraphrased here, in his
keynote address at the STC Region 2 conference in October. He gave
essentially the same talk at the Region 5 conference a few weeks
earlier, and I imagine he said the same thing there.)

David Farkas, Michael Keene, and Eric Ray have made some excellent
observations about the role of the technical communicator. To Eric's
nice, succinct definition, let me make a small addition (the text
inside the asterisks is mine; the rest is Eric's):

> Technical communicators, *by making informed choices
> about language, media, and design*, provide accessible
> information to their audience, who should then be able
> to act appropriately based on that information.

And, oh yes, back to the Code for Communicators: You'll be happy to
learn that soon it'll be put out to pasture. Even before Bill Horton
made his comments, the Society had begun writing a new set of ethical
guidelines that will replace the Code. We hope to secure final approval
at the STC Board of Directors' meeting in January.

Larry Kunz
STC Assistant to the President for Professional Development
ldkunz -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com

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