Sequel: Paula Koetter

Sequel: Paula Koetter

Paula Koetter is an alumnus of the English Department, and more currently, she is a professional technical writer.

In this edition of Sequel, I sat down with her to hear her take on what technical writing is and what it added to her study of English. What follows is some of her interview and a plug for a section of Technical Writing offered in Spring ’18 by Jacob Craig.

Like others, Paula did not know what technical writing was before she enrolled in CofC’s technical writing class with Bonnie Devet. That class gave Paula a useful introduction to technical writing that she later leveraged into a position at a local software firm.

So what is technical writing? Perhaps not surprisingly, Paula Koetter said technical writing “can be a lot of different things” because “every flyer or every document that we consume has some sort of writer behind it,” and that writer is a technical writer.

At Paula’s software firm, she creates written documentation, audio-visual resources, and critiques software in order to help users “get the most out of the tool they’re using,” retrieve needed information “the moment they need it,” and access information “in the way that they prefer to consume it.”

Despite whether they are housed in a technology firm, a business, a legal practice, or a legislature, technical writers are primary concerned with “condensing and constructing technical information” and “translating that to a particular audience for a particular purpose.”

In Spring of ’18, Jacob Craig is offering a section of Technical Writing, and as Paula’s interview indicates, it’s primarily focused on information design: crafting effective, timely, and user-preferred information through print, digital, alphabetic, and visual media.

Also, in keeping with the English Department’s commitment to “read perceptively and critically; to understand the historical, cultural and aesthetic dimensions of language and literature; and to write with clarity and precision,” a special focus of this class will be theĀ ethicsĀ of information design, particularly when that information is developed to empower and liberate people.

His class will examine, for instance, what makes this good information design…

…and this bad information design.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Jacob Craig at craigjw1 AT cofc DOT edu

Hear the rest of Paula Koetter’s interview here: