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Ya go away for the weekend, and the conversation gets silly.
OK, let's think of Tekwryter (and the other folks competent in tools and
in basic research and writing) as the kid fresh out of tradeschool.
Let's think of me (and many of you) as the plumber who has been in the
biz for twenty years.
Tekwryter and his basic-skills crew have most of the same basic skills
that I do - I've just got more years of experience, especially in my
A competent hiring manager, looking to fill a position for a grunt in a
multi-person techpubs department probably wants Tekwryter, cuz I cost
more to fill that generic seat.
A competent hiring manager, looking to fill a position for a lone
writer, or the only writer at a busy development branch of his company,
might prefer to hire me.
Why? Back to that plumber thing.
The plumbing goes wonky.
You take out your best wrenches and tinker for a while, with no success.
You give up and call the plumber.
The plumber comes in, looks the situation over, plucks an old, well-used
wrench from his toolbelt... and gives the pipe a solid whack! The
plumbing starts working properly, and the plumber presents his bill for
$300. He's been at your place for ten minutes... barely.
"What??" you expostulate. "I could have done that. Where do you get off
charging me three hundred bucks to whack one pipe?"
The plumber scratches his chin and says... "Hang on, I'll write you up
an itemized bill."
A minute later, you are reading the newer, longer version of the bill.
- whacking pipe $50
- knowing where to whack pipe $250
Similarly, we've been hiring developers recently. None of them hit the
ground running, though they're all smart, experienced people. They all
spend couple of weeks reading specs, reading code and asking questions,
before they dip their toes in their first real assignments.
The occasional software architect that we hire takes considerably longer
before he (there hasn't been a she applying for those positions) starts
contributing at the level of the previous holder of that office. It's
all code and hardware that works with the code, but there's a lot of
knowledge that needs to be soaked up that is specific to our industry,
and that is specific to how our company has been doing things. That's
the "knowing where to whack" part. That's the non-modular,
non-cookie-cutter part of the job.
I think I've just said: If you're a good TW, seek out non-commodity
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