Re: The more you know, the less you know you know

Subject: Re: The more you know, the less you know you know
From: doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 16:14:07 -0800

On Wednesday 14 December 2005 10:28, John Posada wrote:
> Hi, guys...just pretty much thinking out loud here.

Can't hear the pronouns!

>
> I came to this gig last Feb. My assignment was to document an
> internally developed portal. No problem!

A "No Problem" statement? WOW! I'd like to see more of these in specs and
guides--it harks to many good things, like scope declarations that include a
list of what is NOT in scope. This is a rare gem, smuggled out from
behind the Curtain of Unsayable Things. Please join me in welcoming the No
Problem statement to documentation freedom!

> Here I am 10 months later, having produced maybe close to a thousand
> pages of document, and have realized that the more I write, the
> smaller the dent on how much is left that I need to write.

Have you tried just leaving stuff out? If you get caught, accept
responsibiliy but explain it away thus: "We don't want to give the user too
much information, it will just confuse them and result in more calls to tech
support."

>
> My manager is thrilled with what I've done and what I'm doing. My
> developers are happy with how quickly I pickup their explanations and
> get them onto paper. I've created several documents for them that
> they were able to send to their developer counterparts all over the
> world. I just got an $12/hour rate increase that goes into effect
> next week. Aside from the fact that I'm working an average of 55
> hours a week, all is well.

John. JOHN. Wake up! Judging by your smile, I've interrupted a pleasant
dream (sorry), but you'll miss your ride home if you don't hurry.

>
> My problem is that at the rate I'm going, it will be five years
> before I've made a dent on documenting what I need to document.
>
> This doesn't seem to bother anyone...except me.

It bothers me, John. Tech writers are being asked to shoulder more and more of
the management burden, without any commensurate relief from the standard
duties. There you are, a contractor, and all that implies about your abundant
wealth of experience in all angles of projects. Management obviously also
has some experience with contractors--it sounds to me like they're playing
off your insecurities (aka Contract Employee Angst, the inner chatter about
getting a good reference) to get you to write their five year plan.

>
> Don't get me wrong..I'm all for job security. I guess I'm just
> wondering if anyone else is in this position and how they get their
> mind around it.
>
A web search for "Stockholm Syndrome" (the description of how a hostage comes
to sympathize with the captors) might turn up more you can use .

> BTW...the hours thing...it's not as bad as it looks. My manager lets
> me bill any hours where I work on documentation, regardless of where
> I am. Last night, I wote about four pages of content from my lounge
> chair with the Victoria Secrets fashion show on the TV and this
> morning, did two hours while sitting on the bus coming into the city.

AIIEE!! I am too late. I must go now and grieve for a time, and hope against
all odds that you return to your senses before it is too late to change the
channel to Deperate Housewives. Trust me on this one, John. 8?(

Happy Mid-Winter Celebration.

Ned Bedinger
Prodigal/Peripatetic Documentation Specialist
A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult.
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References:
The more you know, the less you know you know: From: John Posada

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