Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing -Reply

Subject: Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing -Reply
From: "Doug, Data Librarian at Ext 4225" <engstromdd -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 1994 10:45:40 -0600


Along these lines, the future of software documentation is supposedly
online and integrated with the product, right?

Actually, I think the future is even more tightly "bound" than that. I
suspect that the lines between what we now call "applications" and
"documentation" (on-line and otherwise) are collapsing; in its place is a
"thing" that facilitates work. It may present static information (such as
how to tune an engine), dynamic information (checking inventory for the
parts needed) and perform tasks (such as billing the customer). It
combines some of the attributes of a document, a database and an
application, but is more than any one of them. It's not so much that the
document will be integrated with the application as that it will be so
imbedded in it as to be indistinguishable from it.

Along with this change, the lines between what we now call "documentors,"
"business analysts," "systems analysts," "trainers," "videographers," etc.
will collapse as well. This integrated "thing" will be produced by an
integrated team, which will be made up of people with various special
skills and a broad understanding of the business.

...In this scenario the writer/technical communicator/information
developer/communication specialist would an integral part of the
development team from design stage to shipping disks to manufacturing.
Unless the product is a one-time thing, I don't see how this kind of job
is likely to be performed by a contractor, any more than program developers
are subject to contracting work ...I think contractors would have a
disadvantage over a permanent writer in performing the work. Any thoughts?

But developers are subject to contract work, all the time. And as a
contractor who addressed this thread earlier said, contract technical
writers perform this role today. I think the purpose of the application
will make the difference between the viability of contractors and
full-time employees in the future, for all members of the development

I talked with one of our technical architecture guys the other day, and he
believes that just as hardware has (for the most part) become a commodity,
so will most software. As the number of processor architectures and
operating systems drops, large and attractive markets appear for companies
which can fill common corporate needs. This is already happening in
general ledgers, payroll, and other "common" functions. It's probably
coming in human resources, inventory, shipping and other areas where
processes need to be automated but there is little opportunity to add
value. Instead of each company developing its own system, each will buy a
standard package from a vendor, just as they buy word processors today.

In the commodity market, pricing will be cutthroat, and knowledge of any
one business will not be particularly important, although general knowledge
of the human/machine interface will be extremely valuable. In this
environment, the contract technical writers low cost and wide experience
will be significant advantages.

Parallell with the commodity market will be the continued development of
proprietary systems that add value to a company's basic processes. These
systems will perform idosynchratic, high-value tasks, such as organizing
and presenting information on product development and retirement, modeling
markets, (like the proprietary trading systems employed by some
brokerages), or serving as a repository of corporate information on things
like the best way to repair an engine.

In all cases, these systems will form a crucial piece of a company's
competitive edge, and will probably be built by teams of people intimately
familiar with the company, its strategy, its customers, and its industry.
In this environment, the advantage will belong to the long-tenure,
full-time "regular" employee.


Doug "Women are designed for long,
ENGSTROMDD -at- phibred -dot- com miserable lives, whereas men are
designed for short, violent ones."
- Estelle Ramey

Previous by Author: Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing
Next by Author: Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing -Reply
Previous by Thread: Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing
Next by Thread: Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing -Reply

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads