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Re: apologia pro vita sua (was Re: The Old Argument: Fram
Subject:Re: apologia pro vita sua (was Re: The Old Argument: Fram From:Harry Hager <hhager -at- dttus -dot- com> To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com Date:24 Jan 2000 16:00:56 -0600
Mark Baker wrote:
> As long as companies continue to require these things, tech writers will
> need to know them. That doesn't make it the right way to run a department.
>I'm saying, fundamentally, that the single-craftsman, cottage industry model
>of document production is inefficient, outdated, and produces inferior
>quality. Debating what skill you need or do not need to work within the
>cottage industry model is beside the point. It is the model itself that I am
>calling into question.
>We need a new model. New skills and new tools will be demanded to meet the
>requirements of the new model.
Jim Hager responds:
You may be right. However, as with other marketable items, the skill
sets, tools, and models for technical writers and technical writing
are market driven. You've said as much in other words.
Some said the Beta videotape format was better than the VHS format.
Some said the Dumont TV methodology was better than the RCA TV
methodology (I know nothing about the mechanics of TVs but this is
basically the same method still used by all TV stations and TV sets
today). Some said, in about 1985, the HP (sic?) GUI was better than
the MS Windows GUI. Some said the WordPerfect was (is?) a better word
processor than MS Word.
In these and countless other cases, it didn't matter which was really
best or which really produced the best result. What mattered was that
the marketplace decided, for whatever reason but usually associated
with the $ and availibility, that they wanted VHS videotape format,
the RCA TV methodology, the Windows GUI, and the MS Word word
Maybe the marketplace will change to demand and pay for the new model
you suggest. However, based on my experiences, the marketplace is and
has been going exactly the opposite direction. I no longer write in
long hand and give my text to a word processor person. Now that was
specialization on text content.
For better or worse, the marketplace isn't buying any new model. To
survive, one needs to understand what the marketplace wants and how
much it is willing to pay for it.
No matter how much you say they should be buying it, for better or
worse, that won't make it so. You can tilt at all those windmills all
you want, and even if you are right, for better or worse, that won't
make it so.
I don't mean to sound so discouraging about your ideas for a new model
but the reality of the markeplace is brutal. It's a jungle out there!
H. Jim Hager
Pittsburgh Solution Center