Re: State of the Technical Writing Field

Subject: Re: State of the Technical Writing Field
From: John G <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2010 16:32:01 -0500

I am of the Mark Levinson era as well ... started off writing longhand with
technical typists following behind. Migrated to IBM C-Script which required
you to insert formatting codes in your text files. (Many years later, this
eased the transition to HTML the major difference being <brackets> instead
of . (dots) as formatting indicators.)

After that I followed the rise of word processing software - DECedit, Wang
OIS, WordStar, WordPerfect, MS Word ... etc. Along the way a little
electronic typesetting got thrown in.

We learned that it's often more efficient to find people who can write and
teach them what to write about than it is to teach people who know the
subject matter how to write. I heard that from Joe Chapline, the very first
software technical writer (he wrote the Operator's Guide for Eckert and
Mauchly's successor to the ENIAC circa 1948).That pendulum swings back and
forth too, but on a longer cycle than some of the others. It'll come back
... some day.

All in all, things are better now. I don't get all wrapped up in tools and
formatting battles too much - overly reminiscent of religious warfare.
Whatever gets the job done and what everyone else uses is fine by me. Just
let me attend all the meetings and I'll make sense of it.

My 2¢,

John G

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