plagiarism (long, long rant)

Subject: plagiarism (long, long rant)
From: Phil Brittenham <pbritten -at- TECHREPS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 12:52:02 -0600

Hello All -

I think that Stephanie has painfully bumped into the future of tech writing,
and there are some issues involved there that we will all have to deal with
sooner or later. Whether we call it compound documentation or text
recycling, reusing written material in other forms and media is very much
where industry, which wants more bang for its documentation buck, wants to
go. Unfortunately, our technological future is somewhat out of our hands
because I've heard very few tech writer concerns voiced with all the "wows."
A couple concerns that I have beyond pride of craftsmanship is that material
will have to be sketchier and more standardized and modular. As more use is
made of existing writing, less original writing will be done. The "writer"
of tomorrow (and even today in some instances) will be a manipulator of
text, not its creator. While there will be some new opportunities for us, I
worry about the practical applications. I have already seen things torn
apart that never should have been separated, and some corporate intranets
where these mutant documents largely reside are nothing but garbage cans for
the anal compulsive. The one who will suffer the most is the reader, who
will also have to be "standardized" to fit the documentation. The "parts
is parts" approach to documentation may have its moments, but as a fan of
the judicious use of explanatory text, I think we're about to see a binge of
stripped down, recycled text that challenges our professionalism in ways we
haven't anticipated.

Have a nice day.


These opinions are mine, but I'm sure I could beat the rest of the company
into agreement, given enough time.

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