Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"

Subject: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing"
From: John G <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2016 12:56:31 -0400

Joe Chapline was the first SOFTWARE technical writer. When he was the
keynote speaker in the 1995 InterChange conference, he brought a copy of
the EckertâMauchly System User's Guide (I don't remember if it was BINAC or
not). He spoke about his preference to hire non-technical people who could
write over technical people who couldn't.

One thing about survival ... it's not just the "hard" skills you need, it's
"soft" ones as well, and included in those is attitude - you gotta be open
to new ideas.

I'm working up a presentation that's sort of a survival guide for tech
writing careers ... InterChange <http://www.stcnewengland.org/page-1750761>has
first option for it!

JG

On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 12:20 PM, Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> Quote:
>
> "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:
> >
> >
> >
> http://www.tcworld.info/e-magazine/technical-communication/article/the-evolution-of-technical-communication/
> >
> > 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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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: "Surviving the Dying Career of Technical Writing": From: Rick Lippincott

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