Re: Writing Samples

Subject: Re: Writing Samples
From: "Nina L. Panzica" <panin -at- MINDSPRING -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 12:07:29 -0500

Penn Brumm wrote:

>Yves had some good ideas. However, if you're in high-tech and if you use
his second
>one, I believe it shows you don't understand your environment. If you
work for a
>start-up or high-tech company, you might be writing highly confidential
>documentation for internal users, or for third-party users who have
non-disclosure
>contracts or agreements. This material you write represents hundreds of
thousands of
>R&D expenses for the company (mostly in salaries and overhead of engineers
and
>scientists).

>If you attempt to negotiate use of the material outside the company, you
send strong
>signals to those interviewing you that you don't have a clue as to the
sensitivity
>of the material or the basic "rules" of the industry. For example, I work on
>documenting software, APIs, and engineering methodologies that may never be
>"exposed" to the outside world. Even if some interface parameters are, the
inner
>workings are not. It is simply not acceptable to "broadcast" what it is
that I am
>writing to other companies. In addition, modifying the material still
tells too
>much.

I haven't followed this entire thread, and so if I begin to confuse or
conflate something, please set me straight.

In your particular situation, Penn, your advice is right on. I couldn't
agree more. I'm mostly an end-user or interface documenter, however, and in
that sort of situation, there is far less actual "disclosure" at stake, far
fewer secrets to reveal (that the other company couldn't get in a much
easier fashion, for instance, by buying a copy of the competitor's
software). I don't think that negoitiating to get a generic and very strict
non-disclosure clause designed to protect the company from those who
document or design at your level to something more suitable to someone
documenting at a much more superficial and less serious level is the least
bit inappropriate or unprofessional.

I can think of few situations in which I would find it unreasonable for
someone in my situation to ask a client if the non-disclosure agreement can
be modified to allow me to show others the end-user manal after it is
published and easily available to anyone willing to purchase the product.
One of these is if this end-user manual is part of a very expensive product
that costs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per licence. But even
in this situation, I don't see a problem with asking permission to modify
the agreement so that I can, at minimum, show a few random or modified
pages from the documentation.

Regards,
Nina P.
____________________________________________________________________________
____

Nina Panzica
Masterpiece Media
(404) 237-7889
Can't reach me at the above number? Try my pager: 404-596-7889
mailto:panin -at- mindspring -dot- com
http://www.mindspring.com/~panin/

Links to other Technical Writers:
http://www.mindspring.com/~panin/writers.htm




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