RE: Myth vs. reality

Subject: RE: Myth vs. reality
From: "Ed Manley" <edmanley -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 09:30:52 -0700

Missed opportunity #1: In the early seventies when I was working with
computers in the Navy I suspected that a small machine that could be used at
home would be a good thing - but I never really pursued it beyond using
products as they came on the market. Throughout the next three decades I
watched new PC stuff make millionaires worldwide, but never did much but use
it as it came available. Welll.

Missed Opportunity #2: I was visiting relatives in Tampa who took me to rent
a VHS cassette and a VCR so that we could watch a movie at home. Kewl stuff.
When I got back to Birmingham I looked around and there were no such rental
places, so I considered opening one. Dad says "That doesn't seem like a very
safe investment", so I forgot about it.
Can U say Blockbuster Video? I can't, without tears coming to my eyes.

Missed Opportunity #3: Dad says "Instead of this movie-tape rental stuff you
should put your money in Southern Company Services". Of course I didn't.
NYSE symbol SO, 'nuff said.

There are others I won't bore you with, and I am sure you have some of your

What I am leading up to is: single-sourcing and modular documentation

I have now been a paid writer of one sort or another for twenty-five years.
(I are now a Technical Communicator.)

Over that time I have developed a conviction that documentation practices as
they currently exist are terribly expensive, difficult to maintain and, in
the case of documentation for the software development lifecycle at least,
nearly useless unless huge resources are expended upon them. (Hey, don't
flame me here, I am just stating my belief.)

I firmly and completely believe modular design and single-sourcing practices
to be the future of documentation, at least for the types of documentation
with which I work.

This belief presents another opportunity, and one I don't want to miss out
on. Therefore, I study everything I can find on these topics, as well as
attempt to apply my own thoughts and practices, teach myself XML and
DocBook, etc.

My dilemma: The tools most often discussed as enablers of modular and
single-source capabilities are expensive. I simply can't afford them.
Further, when I try to talk about these concepts with employers they will
listen, but will not invest in getting these tools and practices implemented
as it is obvious that I have the base knowledge and ideas, but no

My plea: Does anyone own any unused licenses for FrameMaker+SGML and/or
WebWorks Publisher, MS Portal Sever or MS Content Manager that you would be
willing to sell cheap or loan out? I promise not to make copies. I own an
old version of Framemaker, but it's from 1995-or-6 and is surely not much
help here, except for teaching myself basic FrameMaker. To really get
anywhere with my beliefs I have to have the tools that enable me to learn to
do, not just read up on and talk about.

Secondly, does anyone on this list know of anyone willing to work, even for
free, with a newbie to these concepts? I am not working right now anyway, so
this would be the perfect opportunity to do an internship or project (OK -
paying is better) that would allow me to be there, to be a vital part, of
the explosion I believe modular and single-source practices are going to
spark in communications?

A while back I solicited out-of-work TWs to join me in exploring these
concepts, and am setting that up (OK - trying to figure out What Next).
Anyone interested in pursuing that discussion when we do get it going is
welcome to email me an expression of interest directly and I will put you on
the mailing list.

So. The opportunity is there. The skills are there, or will be. All I need
are the tools and maybe an employer.

Any suggestions?


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RE: Myth vs. reality: From: Bill Swallow

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