RE: News Flash: the US is not the only country in the world.

Subject: RE: News Flash: the US is not the only country in the world.
From: Richard Lippincott <richard -dot- lippincott -at- ae -dot- ge -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 10:04:43 -0400

Keith Cronin:
>But he missed one BIG point: TECHWR-L is not an "American" list.
>More than any nationality, Americans are guilty of a self-absorbed myopia
>that causes them to forget or ignore that they're not the only guests at
>this party. To post messages that imply that all of TECHWR-L is beseiged
>by the same demons you percieve is insensitive, and in this case, rude.

Good point. But don't forget, that self-absorbed myopia isn't limited to
just Americans. It really falls into place with any group where there's a
predominant common link between many of the members. It appears that a
majority of the subscribers to techwr-l are Americans, some people tend to
forget not all are.

There's another example of a predominant group on the list, and a prevailing
group mindset, but this one crosses national barriers. Just as this isn't an
"American" list, it isn't a software/high tech list. Some of us work on
products that have absolutely no relation to that field, but the predominant
flavor of the list doesn't recognize that particular form of diversity.

Currently, I'm doing jet engine maintenance manuals. I don't deal with code.
I don't deal with software engineers. We don't do help, we never will. (I am
not making this up: Yesterday another writer came into my cubicle, saw one
of those RoboHelp starter kit free 15-day license CDs, and literally asked
me "What is RoboHelp?") When we release an upgrade, it weighs hundreds of
pounds. When you say "tool" here, people think "torque wrench", not
FrameMaker. Yesterday we saw a nice strong thread about a context sensitive
help system. Imagine how unusual it would look to see a question like "When
you're writing a new procedure about safety-wiring a 12-point bolt, do you
list the 32-gage wire in the 'Consumables' section of your Service

But because the predominant field for people on this list is software/high
tech documentation, it's easy for a lot of us to fall into a trap of
thinking that -all- the list members are in that field...or worse, which
I've also seen, that all tech writers deal with that field. That's simply
not so. Yet despite the significant contributions of a number of list
members -far- removed from software/high tech, many list members sometimes
seem to act as though the other fields exist.

(Excuse me while I point the finger of accusation back at myself for a
moment...because I recall doing the exactly the same thing when I was
working in telecomm and networking, treating the list like it was
software/high tech only. It really is very easy to fall victim to that

My point (and I know I have one) is that American self-absorbed myopia that
Keith mentioned...well, I think it's more of a human thing, not an American
thing, and that it also crosses boundaries that have nothing to do with
nationality. It's just that some of those other areas are a little harder to

That's my two cents. I've had to switch to digest mode, so please remember
to CC me on your flames...

--Rick Lippincott
Saugus, MA

P.S. If any hardware writers are curious, no we don't list the 32-gage wire
in the "Consumables" section when we write our Service Bulletins.

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