Re: Future Demand for Tech Writers

Subject: Re: Future Demand for Tech Writers
From: Kelly Hoffman <kelly -at- NASHUA -dot- HP -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 1994 14:06:16 EST

Jonathan Leer <jleer -at- MV -dot- MV -dot- COM> writes:

> And, how about the end product? Is hardcopy expected to remain prevalent
> or are companies chopping at the bit for on-line help, multi-media, other?

I don't think printed docs will go away anytime soon, at least not
until you can comfortably read the non-printed docs on the plane or
subway or in the bathroom or whatever. In addition, on-line help isn't
much help when you're having trouble installing a product.

I still prefer looking at 1200+ dpi on the printed page to 100 dpi on
the screen. I can still read faster than most on-line help can render
info, although this advantage-for-paper is usually offset when the on-line
help has an excellent search engine. :-)

Essentially: Until technology eliminates the advantages to paper, we'll
still have printed docs.

How *prevalent* printed docs are, I think, will depend on the product
being documented. Some things lend themselves to on-line documentation,
some don't. Some things are "simple" enough or can be designed to be
self-documenting. But I don't *really* want to start that discussion

As for the future of tech-writing-as-we-know-it, I prefer to think of my
role as "getting the necessary information to the user in the most efficient
manner," whether that's via printed docs, on-line help, multimedia, better
product and UI design, or whatever. That way, I don't anticipate the
elimination of my job simply because we're relying less on printed or written

Inquiring minds want to know: Was that reference to "chopping at the bit"
a simple typo, or has the phrase "champing at the bit" [or, perhaps,
"chomping at the bit"] simply become so removed from its origins that only
nitpickers like me notice when it's mangled? Is it now in the same category
as "intensive purposes"? :-)

Kelly K. Hoffman kelly -at- nashua -dot- hp -dot- com
Learning Products Engineer
Hewlett-Packard, Network Test Division "Reading the manual is
One Tara Blvd., Nashua, NH USA 03062 admitting defeat."

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