Re: job titles

Subject: Re: job titles
From: Bonni Graham <bonnig -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 1994 17:28:06 EST

I used to subscribe to "just call me a technical writer" theory. To a degree
I still do. BUT, I do much more than that, so it really isn't descriptive
any more. I design and layout my pages (which used to be done by a different
specialty). I prepare, to a limited degree, my own graphics. I program help
files (even with the authoring tools, you still need to tweak the .rtf's and
.ipf's occasionally. Trying to find a more decsriptive title in this
instance is not equivalent to calling ourselves "sanitation engineers".

I also challenge the idea that because no one "reads" the manuals that we are
all destined to become unemployed. For one thing, if one feels like that
about one's profession (that it's useless and serves no purpose) may I
respectfully suggest that it's time one reevaluated one's career goals? I
don't write my manuals to be "read", as in cover-to-cover. I design my
manuals to be "looked up in", as in used as a reference. Unlike most support
lines, the manual is present 24 hours a day. You can usually get at the
information in several different ways. You're never made to feel like you're
asking a stupid question.

And even if no one ever opens the book, almost everyone presses the F1 key --
and where does that information come from? Not the Doc Fairy! WE write it,
WE fight to make sure the programmers include the hooks that make it context

I don't mean to pick on Andreas, but I am so tired of hearing that attitude.
If you want to find out who reads the book, just try to deliver software
without it! "Thanks for your check -- here's the disk" doesn't cut it for
anyone but shareware authors -- and even they include online help and a
readme or other text file.

The only way to combat this problem is to create useful books and online help
and to insist that technical support send people to the book if the answer to
their question is there. We need to create strong indexes (by observing our
users -- indirectly through the tech support folks, if necessary). We need
to make sure we're writing to the question, because most people don't want to
read the book from cover to cover. They want to find the information they're
looking for and go back to work!

Sorry to pontificate -- I'll shut up now.

Bonni Graham
President, San Diego STC
BonniG -at- aol -dot- com

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