Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"

Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 21:02:07 -0400

These two hit it, I think. One thing I have hit on for years is that TECHNICAL writers have become less and less technical over the years. They have stressed more the tools and how to use them than the knowledge of the subject you are supposed to explain to others.

You may be the best at handling a saw and knowing how to hammer nails, but if you have no idea how to frame a door, plum a wall, or a host of other things, I'm not going to pay you to be a carpenter.

If you are going to be a glorified secretary, I sure am not going to pay you $40, $50, or more an hour to write manuals. I'll hire a couple of people at $10 an hour who can use Microsoft Word who want to escape WalMart.

Where I am, we are doing this massive conversion to a CMS and everything needs to go to XML globally. So they contracted some place in Asia who will rewrite all the FrameMaker files into XML and put everything in our "new" global standard template. This was to coincide with the release of our newest prototype. It has been over a year and the first two book lines (Maintenance, Operator, Parts, and Service) for our old prototype and our new prototype, which are quite similar, but vary vastly in size and capability, have yet to produce one single book that is usable.

They are showing more and more a lack of technical understanding of the products, and so the books are reflecting this lack of understanding what is important to the customer. There is more focus on the formatting than the content.

And they had the content. It existed in the old manuals for the first prototype. It just needed to be converted. Instead, they rewrote it to fit the "new" global style without seeing they are tearing up the meaning.

Twelve years ago at Cisco, we had partnered with a group in India to offload some of our manuals. Most didn't see this as training someone to do our jobs cheaper. But what happened was that we ended it after production costs nearly tripled since the rework was much more, the delays were more, the number of people having to get involved were more, and it just wasn't working. Less than a year later, most in our LOB were gone and the work was sent to India. (And you wonder why Cisco stock sits were it does.)

I guess after ten years, those in India are having issues now.




----- Original Message ----- From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>; <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2016 6:57 PM
Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"


Remember the 90s, when it was really easy for anyone who could string words together into a halfway coherent paragraph to get a job as a tech writer and have developers throw stuff over a wall to be formatted and edited? We often called them "glorified secretaries," before we stopped using "secretary" altogether.

Most of those non-technical writer jobs went away at the end of the decade, but they didn't go extinct; they were offshored to India. Those who remained in the field in the US found themselves called upon to have more domain knowledge in order to stay marketable.

In the past decade or so a lot of design and development has been offshored as well, and this has led to those non-technical writing jobs being squeezed out there as well. Not sure if they're finally biting the dust, or if the Indians have offshored them to someplace like Romania.

Gene Kim-Eng


On 3/21/2016 12:33 PM, Lauren wrote:
That was my first impression. More job postings are looking for local candidates with strong English skills. I think that the Indian dominance that has been present in IT for a few years may start to wane.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
"Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Cardimon, Craig
RE: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Dan Goldstein
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Lauren
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Gene Kim-Eng

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