Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"

Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"
From: Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2016 12:20:56 -0400


"Even ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures reveal examples of help documentation."

Thanks Gene! My point exactly. People have been doing what we do for a very very long time.

Unfortunately the article also repeats that old "Joseph Champline was the first tech writer" myth. 1947? The B-17 Flying Fortress flew for the first time a dozen years before that, and it had a full set of operation and maintenance manuals. You can buy a reprint of the pilot's manual online for under $15 US, for goodness sake. Who wrote these? Elves?

Sears & Roebuck used to sell, at least as far back as the 1920s, houses in kit form. Your deliverable was a truckload of components, all stamped with numbers, and a bound leather manual describing how to build the house. What job title would you give to the person who composed that manual? I think "Technical Writer" fits the bill.

I just Googled the text string "19th Century steam engine operating manuals," clicked to "Images," and in the first row saw a hit for a CD called "Steam Fire Engines." Turns out it includes a 400 page 1889 work "Hand-book of Modern Steam Fire-engines" which seems to include specifications and operation. That sounds like technical writing to me. Hardware, sure, but it's technical writing.

On the other hand, I suppose that if one truly believes that tech writing began with Champline, then one believes that tech writing is -only- about software and technology systems. In that case, I suppose, the reason why it looks like the profession is dying is because...sorry to say this...for you, it probably is.

--Rick Lippincott

> On Mar 23, 2016, at 8:24 AM, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote:
> Gene Kim-Eng
> On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 3:19 AM, Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> > On 3/22/16, Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Hmm. Maybe. With all due respect, I think I'd like to see
> > something...a published history, a study, some sort of
> > documentation...that supports your contention. There were very very
> > complicated systems well before WWII that required documentation.
> > Steamships go back to the mid 1800s, they reached the level of
> > complexity you're talking about well before the -first- World War.
> >
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RE: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Gene Kim-Eng

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