Over TechWhirl’s not quite twenty years’ accumulation of technical writing debates and discussions, we can find some recurring themes. One recurring theme concerns the balance between the technical and the writing sides of the job description. Recently, TechWhirler Robert Lauriston inspired this week’s technical communication poll by asking list members about the most technical tasks they’ve had to perform as tech writers. The resulting answers go a long way towards proving that great technical communicators can handle both the technical and the communication duties with considerable success.
Indeed, many of the most well-respected members of the technical communication profession got their starts performing technical duties ranging from the mundane to the esoteric, from mechanical procedures to advanced scientific theory, and pretty much anything in between. So when Robert asked his question, we discovered a nearly ready-made poll question to engage the rest of the community. We see it as a terrific way to gain a different perspective on the profession, by actually hearing about the wide range of industries where people with the “technical writer” title actually work. To get to this week’s technical communication poll, we tried to generalize from some fascinating specific examples, and we invite you to expand upon them by adding your own related, or completely unrelated, experiences on the technical side of technical writing.
We have long recognized that while software technical writers make up a large percentage of the technical communication community, they don’t have a complete lock. And we want to get a glimpse of what it’s like to work in energy utilities, electronic weaponry, robotics, life sciences research, heavy industry, manufacturing and more. On the other hand, if your experience leans more towards the communication side than the technical, feel free to answer the poll in terms of the technical tasks you’d be interested in performing. And if you haven’t already done so, add to the thread on the email discussion list, where you’re not limited by the check boxes.