Re: Book referral

Subject: Re: Book referral
From: Jack Shaw <jsh -at- SOFTWARE-AG -dot- DE>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 09:22:45 +0100


Back in the 60's, a book called "Millions for Confusion" was
published about the horrendous (in 60's terms, of course)
expenditures by Hughes Aircraft and others to document their
air-to-air guided missile systems. It described such neat tricks
as Hughes engineers taking advantage of the outrageous MIL spec.
requirements for the documentation by setting up moonlighting
writing operations and have wives and others write the manuals
and charge ridiculous fees for the airborne systems the men were
creating at work, using insider info, etc.

I had personal experience with these systems, so it meant something
to me. But it is an interesting chronicle of how the government
inflated the costs of the cold war by specifying such things as
footing rule lines of ".005 to favor certain contractors and reject
others, etc.--and one of the bases for how "user manuals" got a
bad name.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you the name of the author or publisher,
nor can I even promise that it's in print. But a good reference
librarian should be able to find it. It might even be called, "Billions...".

Another name to check out is Prof. Rathbone of RPI, Troy, NY. He
published a lot of the early tech. writing references and headed
up the RPI tech. writing program back in the 60's. As I recall, there
were two predominant schools that taught tech. writing/communication
back then--RPI, and Colo. State Univ. MIT also had a summer workshop
as did U. of Mass., but I think these were farmed out to Rathbone
and co. from RPI. I don't know much about the Colo. State operation,
but I know it was there...

I hope this helps some...not too definitive, but it's all I can
dredge up from the cobwebby recesses...

Jack Shaw

(My employer disclaims responsibility for anything I do, as always...)

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