Re: apologia pro vita sua

Subject: Re: apologia pro vita sua
From: "Elna Tymes" <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 10:04:06 -0800


> I'm in Central Ohio, and salaries are definitely lower here than in
> California, including programmer salaries. Cost of living's reasonable, so
> I believe it evens out.

Markets vary from place to place, but there's a general corellation between
higher costs of living and higher rates.

> It seems that companies realize that they need a lot of programmers, but get
> by with just one or a handful of tech writers. Perhaps the writer who can
> "do it all" works for them, because companies I've worked with (apparently
> it's different in California?) don't seem to demand GREAT documentation,
> GREAT layout, GREAT design, etc. Perhaps this is because they often have no
> documentation to start with. They're glad to have "something." Always, a
> working product that they can rush out to market seems to be the priority. I
> understand why that happens.

My working hypothesis is that software companies tend to take quality guidance
from other companies they consider their peers. Because these people tend to
hire locally, they're usually getting people from the local area who bring
experience with local companies. Therefore if quality expectations were P from
company X, a local company, the people coming from company X will likely bring
quality standards of P into company Y, another local company. Because there is
a greater density of computer-related companies on both coasts, quality
standards tend to be different, let's say Q and R, and that largely because
people move around companies within a given area.. Employees of companies X and
Y, having little or no experience with quality standards Q and R, will assume
that some notching up of P will result in "better" products. It then takes some
sort of change agent - perhaps a leader who comes from outside the local area,
or some market force that shakes people up, or something like that - to make the
move from P to something significantly better -- not necessarily Q and R, but
measurably better.

An additional factor is because contractors and senior people tend to bring
practices, tools, and processes into the companies they work for, and influence
what goes on in the new environment. One good example of that is the way
Webworks Publisher has at least partially solved the old problem of 'you can't
get Frame files cleanly into a help system.'

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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