Re: Well, I Sure Won't Be in Chicago

Subject: Re: Well, I Sure Won't Be in Chicago
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 10:01:26 -0700

Tracy Boyington wrote:
> Bruce, I think you just accidentally made the point I was going to make.

No, quite deliberately. :-)

I was trying to be fair, believe it or not.

>Yes, these are important concerns in YOUR daily working day. Not mine. Most of them don't affect me at all. And I have my own daily concerns that don't affect you in the slightest. You work in a specialized area. I work in a specialized area. We all have our own niche. Why should a conference that's trying to present information relevant to the largest number of technical writers possible spend a lot of time individual, specialized interests?

I only mentioned the ones that first came to mind. My point is not
whether any particular trend is missing, but that *none* of the
current trends were represented. If you made a list of the technical
trends and issues in your field, I strongly suspect that you
wouldn't find those well-represented, either.

And I wouldn't be so sure that none of these trends I mentioned
don't affect you. I remember thinking back ab out 1993 that Adobe
Acrobat was interesting, but wouldn't have any effect on my life;
now, it's a regular tool in my work. Much of what I mentioned was
software-related, and, although not every tech-writer documents
software, somewhere between 40 and 60 percent probably do, so the
chances are that one of the technologies or issues I mentioned is
going to affect a large number of writers.

Also, let's face it: if you're a typical technical writer, you are
probably going to have a number of different jobs in your life.
Wouldn't you appreciate a preview of some of the possibilities, just
so you're not completely unprepared? Off-list, someone asked me if I
thought that a conference should cover the medical, mining,
manufacturing, or military. I suspect that I was expected to say
that I wouldn't, but, why not? Probably none of these should be
major topics, but they are part of tech-writing, and I'd appreciate
the chance to hear a little bit. Maybe I would never use the
information, but I'd still be curious.

Finally, tech-writing has always seemed a job that cut across
special interests. That being so, then surely a tech-writer's
conference that doesn't attempt to show a cross-section of those
interests is of limited use and misrepresents the field.

This problem isn't the organizers' faults. I've put on a conference
myself, and I know how hard it is to put together a balanced
program. You can solicit a few talks or participants, but, mostly,
you have to rely on what is offered. But that only makes the
shortcomings more serious. Unless the organizers systematically
deleted every single technically-oriented proposal (which I doubt),
then I have to worry that the majority of technical writers are
ignoring the "technical" part of their job title.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"There's the smell of death on Golden Mountain,
A price in blood is paid on everyload
And you bury your friends, too many for counting
In the rock and the mud of the Demon Fire-Carriage Road."
- Su-Chong Lim


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