Re: Hottest TechCom Topics Today

Subject: Re: Hottest TechCom Topics Today
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 09:03:47 -0600

At 08:09 PM 3/8/97 PST, you wrote:
>I think that the hot topics are always relatively unimportant, since
>the fundamentals are eternal, and most documentation questions can
>be answered easily enough by keeping a firm grip on fundamentals.
>Hot topics, on the other hand, tend to be focuses on buzzword-compliance
>(to which my flip answer is that you can stay buzzword-compliant by
>adding one buzz per year), how much money other people are getting
>by changing jobs.
>Tim's sample questions are all pretty easy ones, from my point of view:
>* How big is SGML? It's used only by people who are in deadly earnest,
> or who fell into it by mistake. Such people are always a small minority.
>* How much heat is being generated by DTP switchovers? It's an interesting
> question. I've recently helped several clients convert from Interleaf
> to Frame, mostly by converting manual sets from one to the other.
> (I have some proprietary software and techniques that retain a lot more
> of the original document than you will if you use the commercially
> available packages.) They've generally been happy with the switchover,
> yet I have sometimes been puzzled by their decisions. (Of course, you
> have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before their blisters have
> real meaning for you.)
> -- Robert

All of this has a germ of truth, but remember that truth is only a second
cousin to relevancy. My request didn't ask how we as a profession should
deal with new buzz-ideas, but how to build interesting meetings. Different
thing entirely. I'm not fishing for things for myself, understand, but for
the other members. There I have to put aside my own opinions, which largely
parallel yours, and appeal to my fellow beings. Just getting up at the
September meeting and saying "Learn. Grow. Read. Think. Reject the
irrelevant. All else is sham. Go home now" might be a super way to
enlightenment, but it's going to make October's meeting a bit sparse.

You might add this to your statements, Robert: it's only when you dive
deeply into the newest whiz-bangs over and over again that you finally
realize that it's all pretty much the same apple core with a
differently-colored hide. Website pages are built much like brochures,
because they're meant to do much the same thing. Ditto catalogs and SGML
databases. Online and paper. Like tack hammers and sledgehammers, there are
differences, but not enough to warrant the mass conversions and eager
proselytizing we're often seeing nowadays. I, too, want to offer my clients
the very best, newest, and finest tools, ideas, and approaches. But I know,
even if I can't tell them, that I'll design a system for the 21st century
using principles I learned decades ago.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker-to-HTML Conversions
HTML Help Consulting and Production

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