Re: old school

Subject: Re: old school
From: Beth Agnew <Beth -dot- Agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 12:22:57 -0400

While many of us claim to be that long in the profession, two good
examples of historic technical communication that I share with my
students are the following:
1. Hymn to Ninkasi - circa 2000 BC - a beer making instruction that
includes phrases such as "You place appropriately on [top of] a large
collector vat." The word "appropriately" definitely marks this as
technical writing. We tell people precisely how to do things.
2. God to Noah in Genesis - (date disputed) - instructions for building
some kind of big boat that apparently was successful in keeping the
user, his family, and assorted cargo from drowning. "And this is the
fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be
three hundred cubits..."

Another contender is the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which gave
instructions on how to reach the afterlife. User testing has been a bit
sporadic on that one though.

Personally, I think technical writing is the Second Oldest Profession,
and quote Moliere: "Writing is like prostitution...First you do it for
love, then you do it for a few friends, then you do it for money..."
--Beth

Sam Beard wrote:

>Back when *I* first started, we were on this project to build a tower
>that would reach the heavens! The work was progressing well, the specs
>were all drawn up and all parties signed off on them, the use cases were
>ran and all users were identified and their roles assigned. Us tech
>writers had completed the construction manuals and were working on the
>operating specs when suddenly we could no longer understand each other!
>All of our hard work now seemed like Greece (and Abyssinian and
>Pheonician and all of the other languages that came about from this
>project!) to the entire team, so we hard to start all over again! Talk
>about a major re-write!
>
>
>

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References:
RE: old school: From: AL Geist
RE: old school: From: Tammy Van Boening
RE: old school: From: Sam Beard

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