Re: Personal Business--What's relevant?

Subject: Re: Personal Business--What's relevant?
From: Peter Kent <76711 -dot- 2557 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 10:19:18 EST

>>Cliff Bachison writes:
I kind of like being sucked into the personal battles of others...<<

I suppose it has a soap-opera quality to it...

>>All the hub-bub over Mr. Kent's book has made me very curious. I have been
in this profession for over 20 years and I have never met anyone who makes $200K
a year tech-writing. It blows my mind to think that that is possible. If Mr.
Kent's book discusses ideas and/or methods for doing such, even if the methods
are only theoretical,
perhaps the rest of us should be discussing it here.<<

Obviously I agree with Cliff. Several people have said that this whole thing was
off topic, and that's something we hear a lot, so I'd like to clear something
up. When you get 2,000 people in one place, they are not all going to be talking
about the things you want to hear. That's just the nature of the beast.
Certainly some threads are so far off topic that they need to be taken off list
(there was, for a short time, a discussion on whether Israel is racist, that I
agree has no place on the list, though the initial comment that sparked the
discussion was part of a relevant msg).

But other topics are most definitely relevant to many members of this list.
Stephan Andraksen had every right to mention something he'd heard about my
book...the book has been read by several thousand technical writers, and many
others have been trying to get a copy--it's most definitely a relevant topic! In
fact although a couple of people complained (I think it was two people, wasn't
it), far more either contacted me directly or got involved in the thread itself.

Many members of this list are freelancers, or want to be. I'd better somewhere
around 500 or so, maybe more. Why shouldn't they discuss topics relevant to
themselves, that are of no interest to people who don't want to freelance? I'm
not interested in Needs/Task Analysis Training, but I would never say it's off
topic.

May I humbly suggest a way that people can make working in a large list easier
for themselves, and still allow a wide diversity of opinion and subjects?

All mailing lists will contain msgs that not everyone wants to see. One good way
to handle this problem is by getting the message Digest instead of individual
messages. That way you get a single large msg each day, instead of dozens of
small msgs. I get the digest, take a look at the list of messages at the top of
the message, then use my word processor's search function to read just those
messages that are relevant to me.

Julie Tholen told me that this is awkward for her--she likes to save individual
messages. Well, here's another suggestion, then. I personally believe every
technical writer should be using a programmable keyboard, programmable mouse, or
one of those little toolbar thingies that let you add keyboard macros to any
application, and macros native to their applications. (If you are not using
tools such as these, you are spending far more time in the mechanics of getting
words and pictures onto the page than you need to.) Anyway, consider opening the
digest in an application, and using one of these tools to automatically save the
messages you are interested in. You could highlight the text, then press a
button to automatically open the Save dialog box and select the correct
directory. Very quick, very easy.

I hope this helps!

Peter Kent

PS: Cliff, I'd never suggest that many people are making $200,000 a year, but
some are!


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