The platypus was discovered in Australia in 1798, but not well-publicized outside of Australia and England until National Geographic published an article in 1939.
I remember learning about the platypus in elementary school. It is an interesting animal that seems to be made of parts left over from birds, mammals, and reptiles. Its snout with a bill looks like a duck, its tail looks like a beaver, and its webbed feet look like an otter. It lays eggs, has fur, and the male secretes venom from a spur on its back foot.
Technical writers are like the platypus; our work has varied parts. We write, rewrite, and edit user, marketing, developer, and knowledge-base documentation for a wide variety of audiences.
Technical writers are like the platypus; our work has many inputs. We seek out subject matter experts from engineering, training, marketing, tech support, and field people. Sometimes, we even meet users and learn about what they need.
Technical writers are like the platypus; our work has many sources. Our source materials include specifications for the latest and greatest bleeding-edge tool, work with the product during development, or even oldie-moldy legacy files from before the turn of the [twenty-first] century.
The platypus is a fairly rare animal, native to Eastern Australia and Tasmania. Technical writers are less rare, found all over the world, but they usually are solitary or in small groups. We don’t need to travel to Australia to meet and network with other tech writers, we can simply come to the STC-SF meetings!
I’m looking forward to seeing you soon at a meeting.
Marie McElravy, Editor