RE: Losing my profession?

Subject: RE: Losing my profession?
From: david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 22:39:08 -0500

Tanja Rosteck said:

> Secondly, I strongly disagree with those folks who think just because
> you graduated with a certain degree (or none at all), that you can't
> do well in a seemingly unrelated field.

I'll take a guess and suppose that this is pointed at me.

Being a geek has nothing to do with the degree a person has. It has
everything to do with how the person approaches technology. A person is a
geek long before they get a degree. Geeks, "Technical Enthusiasts," approach
towards technology differently. They model the application. These are the
people that don't read the manuals. They experiment. They test. They hack.
They learn. They will pick up a reference manual to find that one thing that
escapes them.

Other people, "Mainstream Users," cope with technology by reading about it.
These are the people who read our documents. They don't model. They don't
experiment. They don't test. They don't hack. They will go through a
carefully structured tutorial. They will ask the local expert. They will
call technical support. They learn. It is not a lesser way to learn. It is
not a lesser calling, because most of these people have their own domain
specific competences, which happens to lie outside the software domain. Even
so, some network administrators and certified persons fall into this

Geeks and readers are much alike as well. Both deal with risks. But, their
risks are different. Geeks will take a technical risk in the software
domain. And, at the same time won't have their eyes lasered, because they
feel the personal risk is too high. The reader will have their eyes done,
but won't crack the case on their workstation.

Notions like minimalism turned out to be a nice theory that ignored the
geek/reader differences, and the amount of work (schedule) involved in
making guided discover work. It was perfect for geeks, but wouldn't actually
be ready until the product was in the hands of readers, who wouldn't model
as the theory suggested.

My answer on this thread had nothing to do with the degree of the person
involved. It is, unfortunately, highly unlikely that he was a geek, or took
a geek approach toward technology. A lot of technical writers are taught to
interview. Few are taught to model. I know, because I have taught TWs to
model the application on the job. The metaphors come from the model not the

What Bruce said about some people caring was true as well. I admit to
overstating the contrary case. But, like Bruce and the original poster, I've
burned out, and I still feel it hounding me after all these years. All it
takes is one bad attitude, and I feel it catching up with me.

And, after a round of what looked like age discrimination here in Austin, I
know what it feels like when people start to discount your ability to think
and learn, which, I agree with you, is one of the core competencies of TW.
And, by learn, I don't care how you accomplish it.



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