How to Make Technical Communicators Eye-Popping Angry

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Creative Commons License photo credit: jenlight

People are sensitive. Read this. ‘Do technical writers write wikis? NOT!  Do technical writers write process maps? NOT! Do technical writers write interviews? NOT? Do technical writers write online help? NOT! They develop content and communicate. They communicate technical information.’

Communicate Technical Information

That’’s the PG version of an email I got last week. And it got me thinking (after I’d calmed down) that they had a point. I liked her definition.

Communicate. Technical. Information.

That’s what I do but I still prefer to use ‘technical writing’ on the blog. Am I just being obstinate?

Technical Writers v Technical Communicators?

So, why do I use the term Technical Writers? Shouldn’t it be Technical Communicators?

I think there’s a few reasons:

  • Other Blogs – Tom writes great stuff on http://idratherbewriting.com/, not I’d Rather Be Communicating. Alltop has a section for http://tech-writing.alltop.com/. Gordon is http://www.onemanwrites.co.uk/ and Janet is a Techie Tech Writer http://www.janetswisher.com/.

    My fav tech writers blog is http://www.dmncommunications.com/weblog/ from Aaron and Scott, which has the word Communications in it. And Ugur is at http://www.technicalcommunicationcenter.com/. So, what do I know, huh?

  • Habit – I started as a tech writer in London where paradoxically they are/were called Technical Authors. I found that a tiny but pretentious. So, did my Texan boss. She preferred Tech Writer and I tagged along!. Read into that what you will.
  • SEO – People find this blog using keywords such as ‘technical writing tips’, ‘technical writing format’, and ‘technical writing jobs’. Very few use Technical Communication, even long-tail searches.

    And I know what you’re thinking.

    If I wrote about Technical Communication, people would find the blog and then keywords would appear in the results. True. But, a quick search on Google shows that more search for tech writing keyword phrases than Technical Communications.

  • LinkedIn – most of the discussions on LinkedIn where many of us hang out talk about tech writing when discussing our field. Few refer to Technical Communication. Maybe it just takes too long to type!
  • Job Hunts – Most of the job sites post vacancies for Technical Writers, though I have seen variations, eg Technical Authors on the UK and Irish sites. Very few post for Technical Communication.
  • Industry Norm – While we may like to be seen (or defined?) as Technical Communicators, the reality is that most others refer to us as Technical Writers. At least in the orgs I worked in, people would talk about Tech Writers. Maybe it’’s different in your part of the world.

What should it be?

Should we start using Technical Communications more intentionally and drop Tech Writing?

I have mixed feelings. I’ll leave the last word to you.

What do you think?

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