A rose by any other name

For some technical writers, there's something about the perceived limitations of the title that drives them to break free of its constraints. I think this is partly driven by the profession's lack of stature, especially within the technical community. See Will Kelly's so-true-it-hurts article Why Your Coworkers Think You Are a Technical Writer With a Stick Up Your A** for more on this perspective.

But another piece of the puzzle is that the title "technical writer" is so broadly applied that it can mean anything from "glorified typist" to "NYT columnist and Emmy winning correspondent". (A tip for you: If you're looking at job posting and it specifies how many words per minute you must type, the job falls at the lower end of the scale.)

So some writers have taken to calling themselves Information Architects instead. But tech writers aren't alone in wanting to try on this new label, Leisa Reichelt provides a cogent summary of the types of folk who also fancy themselves this way in The Six Species of Information Architect.

And let's not forget one of my favorites, "Instructional Designer." My former colleague Vera cogently describes her perspective on how instructional design differs from typical technical writing.

So where does that leave us? Well, aside from the old joke "Just don't call me late for dinner!" I suspect that more titles for this profession are yet to be invented. Stay tuned.

See also: Technologists Need Not Apply.

Posted: May 29, 2006 link to this item, Tweet this item, respond to this item