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In digest mode we received the list rules reminders in the same digest as
the productivity posts. The LA Times article is good stuff and I appreciate
seeing it although it probably stretches list rules a bit to have it here.
Michael Andrew Uhl attempts to steer the discussion back to productivity of
technical writers, and I additionally question here whether he's going the
right way. ("Moving from an IBM Selectric typewriter to an electronic
publishing system was a major leap," etc.)
Isn't what we're talking about when we speak of productivity of technical
writers not pages produced per hour or the like but rather time and other
costs saved by our readers because the writing and production is better?
Speaking macroeconomically like the LA Times article, this is surely the
most economically significant area, given a one-to-many relationship between
a manual writer and manual readers. It's likely a one-to-one relationship
between the writer and his/her supervisor, and that may be where the
These metrics are difficult to reliably obtain as well, but I offer it's the
customer callbacks on the manual, the number of airliner crashes due to
faulty maintenance traceable to the manual, etc., that are the true metrics
of significance in measuring productivity of technical writers. Pages per
hour, etc., is microeconomics and micromanagement, and, most importantly,
does not very directly relate to the big picture metrics of concern, does
it? Penny wise ...