Not really funny

Subject: Not really funny
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000 16:48:08 -0800 (PST)

"Mark L. Levinson" <nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il> wrote in message
news:38751 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> Unless I've failed to notice, none of the stories so far has
> been about a dumb tech-writer; rather, they're about the dumb
> people whom tech-writers work with.

I noticed that too. I actually wrote a response to this post about two days ago
but threw it away before sending because I realized none of the stories I had
were very funny. All of the stories I had revolved around the intense
arrogance, ignorance, and intolerance of tech writers with whom I have worked.

I think about this woman about 5 years ago who stood before me and told me with
a straight face and utter conviction that she did not need to know anything
about computers to write a document about computer software - that isn't funny,
it's depressing.

In another story, a client was 4 weeks from beta on a new software product.
NOTHING was done on the docs. And this was a very complex software product.
The lead writer demanded we spend weeks developing a style guide, templates,
and assorted BS. In a meeting I protested, saying there was simply no time for
such niceties. His response "who cares about that, we're not here to write
manuals anyway." And this was a "senior" level writer.

There seems to be some mentality out there that "it's okay to do only one-off
work". Rather than actually writing, obsess over HOW to write (structure,
format, organize, etc.) Rather than struggle to understand a complex design,
worry about HOW to organize the pitiful information available into a system
that LOOKS like you understand.

It is the ultimate employment procrastination defense - rather than be
effective, worry and TALK about being effective. In the process - nothing
useful is accomplished except FEELING like something important was done.

Which is why Tina the Brittle Tech Writer (which somebody mentioned in another
message) is so funny. She's brittle because deep down she knows she is doing
NOTHING useful. Like the cartoon where she yells that the engineers to read her
docs - yet the document binder is full of blank pages.

Funny because it is true at a certain level, depressing because it is (was) my

Andrew Plato

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