Are Tech Writers Valid anymore Re: ghost town -

Subject: Are Tech Writers Valid anymore Re: ghost town -
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: "Tony Chung" <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>, "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 21:16:09 -0500

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tony Chung" <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Cc: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: ghost town

Before this thread goes do far off the rails to be considered TechWr-L
CHAT, I do have a question that I'd like to discuss:

Are Technical Writers valid anymore? Before you get out your
hear me out:

How many of you still research and write all your own document content?

Most of it. Some material is vendor material due to components we buy and
install. Typically, I do about 95% on the operator manuals, 80% on the
maintenance manuals, and 60% on the service manuals.

How much of your work involves rewriting material supplied to you by
developers (hardware and/or software)?

10% maybe. it varies by project.

How much of your work involves setting up your own user simulations and
documenting the best case scenarios on behalf of your users?

I wish. They won't turn me loose with the rig to run it. I have to look
over shoulders whenever, and ask a lot of questions that they usually
haven't thought about.

How much of your time is spent messing with the tools and processes to
design a better, more efficient process?

10% of the time. Or it was. I was spending a fair amount of time tweaking
the EDD and format template over the last 4 month.

I ask this because I have never been a core technical writer. I'm a
programmer who knows how to write English. Sadly, where I would really
enjoy building and implementing documentation systems that make it easier
for developers to supply core content and writers to fix the content so
that it's useable, there isn't much of that type of work around, except as
a short term external contractor.

I've run across a few places recently that do customized documentation
systems since off the shelf solutions don't fulfill their needs. They have
parts databases that have to end up in parts books and these tie into their
parts systems like CatBase, JBA, and other. This ties artwork, part numbers,
callouts, and everything together so that each product can be quickly pulled
into a set of books.

Find a manufacturing company with a big parts inventory and maybe you can get
into designing and building a system for them.

I honestly see a need for this type of role in most companies, but can't
seem to meet the people who recognize that as a need.

So what thoughts have you on my interpretation of the writing "ghost town"
being made up of fewer writers and more systems specialists?


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ghost town: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: ghost town: From: Tony Chung

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