Re: The Origins of Techwriting (WAS:Re: Techwr-1 polls)

Subject: Re: The Origins of Techwriting (WAS:Re: Techwr-1 polls)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 12:15:26 -0800

"Gilger.John" wrote:

> If the truth be told, documenting software is boring when compared to
> documenting hardware or complex electro-mechanical equipment like that used
> in a refinery, electrical generation plant, or manufacturing facility.
> However, software companies seem to pay more, so those of us having a
> mercenary streak in our souls go for the money rather than the interesting
> work.

That depends on what type of software you're documenting. On the one
hand, point of sale, e-commerce, customized databases, or any other
type of bread and butter software is often as boring as you say.
I've done a little of this stuff, but I can't say that I'd be
thrilled to do it again. In fact, I'd avoid it unless I was
desperate for money, and I often have a sneaking pity for those
condemned to do it. On the other hand, I've spent the last 18 months
doing various types of Linux documentation, and haven't been bored
yet - probably because I'm still learning.

On yet another hand (which makes me a rare example of trilateral
symmetry, I suppose), I've done some pretty boring hardware
documentation, too. In particular, I remember documenting a balance
scale for mixing Pantone inks and spending more hours than I care to
recall with a couple of beakers and an eyedropper. A memory like
this more than overbalances the best hardware job I had,documenting
some high-end ATM video conferencing terminals that, in private
life, I'd ordinarily never have seen.

As for the pay scales, the offers I've had for documenting hardware
haven't been any lower than the ones for software. If the software
offers come more often, the main reason is simply that half to
two-thirds of the documenting jobs are for software. The only
mercenary motive is the general one of wishing to be employed.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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Inigo: Hello. My name is Inigo de Montoya. You killed my father.
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