RE: Writer/Programmer

Subject: RE: Writer/Programmer
From: Craig Haiss <craighaiss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 08:13:10 -0800 (PST)

This discussion reminds me of a Neal Stephenson essay called "In the Beginning was the Command Line."

(Don't worry, I'll relate this to technical writing; I promise.)

In the essay, Stephenson explains how those who have a deeper understanding of technology wield a great degree of control over those who do not. To relate it to our programming discussion, those who leave a university with only Java training will be far less likely to develop the next popular language, because they do not have a system-level understanding of how computers function.

Experienced programmers have an advantage; they've worked on systems with limited resources and in low-level languages like assembly. They know that while machine resources are cheaper than programmer resources, such sacrifices can't be made when you're developing serious tools like compilers and new programming languages.

If you only learn Java, you're going to have a big learning curve to deal with when the next great language becomes popular. But if you know how to write incredibly efficient algorithms and understand how microprocessors handle data, everything else is just an abstraction. A computer is a computer, regardless of the language.

That's why I'd like to learn assembly language some day. (And because computers are just plain fun.)

Technical writing is no different. Anyone can write, after all. But those who have a deep understanding of grammar, style, and form get paid to explain technical concepts to everyone else.

The more you know about fundamentals, the greater your value will be as a professional. That applies to technical writing, computer programming, and every other field as well.

Craig Haiss
craighaiss -at- yahoo -dot- com
Tech writing tips:

--- On Wed, 1/28/09, Downing, David <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com> wrote:

> From: Downing, David <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
> Subject: RE: Writer/Programmer
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2009, 9:53 AM
> From: Technical Writer <tekwrytr -at- hotmail -dot- com>
> Subject: RE: Writer/Programmer
> Why this should be so is less clear, and a source of
> endless (and often bitter) debate among academics charged
> with developing appropriate college and university programs.
> In essence, "learning to program" needs to be put
> on the back burner until you "learn to solve
> problems."


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RE: Writer/Programmer: From: Downing, David

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