What does a Tech Writer do? (Tech writing, publicity in US)

Subject: What does a Tech Writer do? (Tech writing, publicity in US)
From: Julie Barker <julie -at- HARSTON -dot- CV -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 1994 11:39:10 BST

Faith Weber <weber -at- EASI -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM> writes:

> Sometimes it's so bad that I have to wonder what it says about me
> that I chose this profession -- but *I* like it, and our users
> seem to think I've improved our documentation, so I just try to
> educate people so they don't say "Eek!" or "Yuck!" to the next
> tech writer they meet.

> Do Brits and other Europeans have this reaction to tech writers,
> I wonder?

Reactions to revealing my status as a Tech Writer

Q: So what do you do?
A: I write manuals that tell people how to use computer
programs. <Bright smile>. Deep breath.

Response 1:
O really? I just bought a <PREHISTORIC PC I'VE NEVER HEARD OF> for
10 quid at a car boot sale last weekend and can't get it to work.
Perhaps you could come round and have a look at it ...

Response 2:
Well I hope you write better manuals than the one that came with my
[washing machine|video|microwave]... Here... Can YOU figure out how
to make it do a 40 degree eco half load cycle with a pre-wash
and 800 RMP spin from THIS...?

[On this one, usually I (a) suggest they use the washing machine and not
the microwave to achive this, (b) smile weakly, and (c) try to slither
away, but it doesn't always work.]


I have had both responses on several occasions. Anyone else out there
been cornered and made to feel professionally responsible on a regular
basis because their mum (bless her) can't figure out how to turn the
video on and off using the manual (let alone how to program it)?

Julie Barker * Project Tech Writer * julie -at- harston -dot- cv -dot- com
Computervision Ltd, Harston Mill, Harston, Cambridge CB2 5NH, UK
"Get with the beat, Baggy" - Baloo

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