Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"

Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"
From: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 18:09:41 -0700

My understanding is that documentation was traditionally written by
the engineers who built the machines, and that in WWII that the
systems got so complicated that writing docs became a full-time job
and eventually a separate profession.

I believe a side effect of that change is that while writing well had
been an essential skill for engineers, in some fields they could
increasingly get away with without it. I vaguely remember reading an
old rant about that decline of standards by a college professor.
Today, obviously, in many fields no one expects engineers to write
well.

On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 5:51 PM, Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Robert Lauriston said:
>
>>In the steam era, mechanical engineers would write their own notes and
>>most technical information was transmitted informally. You can find
>>examples of technical writing as far back as writing goes, but
>>technical writing didn't exist as a profession until WWII, around the
>>ame time as software development.
>
> Ah. Good to know.
>
> So...now I'm curious. Who wrote all these pre-WW2 aircraft flight and
> maintenance manuals that I've come across over the years? Or the
> turn-of-the-last-century locomotive operating manuals?
>
> Or is it that you're saying that because they didn't consider it a
> "profession," they weren't really tech writers?
>
> Because, if you are, I disagree.
>
> --Rick Lippincott
>
>
>
> On 3/22/16, Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com> wrote:
>> It's a seller's market in the Silicon Valley / San Francisco area where I
>> work.
>>
>> On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 4:28 PM, Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
>>> It's obvious from the first paragraph that the author of the article
>>> believes that "software technical writing = technical writing." Well,
>>> for anyone in that mindset, yeah the profession may be dying. At the
>>> very least, it's getting to be a lot smaller.
>>
>> In the steam era, mechanical engineers would write their own notes and
>> most technical information was transmitted informally. You can find
>> examples of technical writing as far back as writing goes, but
>> technical writing didn't exist as a profession until WWII, around the
>> same time as software development.
>>
>>> 150 years ago, technical writers probably were documenting steam
>>> engines, and they probably went into a panic when the simpler and
>>> easier-to-maintain internal combustion engine came along. The field
>>> didn't die then, it's not going to die now.
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Jen
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Rick Lippincott
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Robert Lauriston
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Rick Lippincott

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