Privacy? You Want Privacy?

Subject: Privacy? You Want Privacy?
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 10:12:26 -0700

Hi folks =)

While I can sympathize with the "noisy neighbors" plight Ms. Mazo and
her colleagues seem to be facing, I've yet to hear of anyone actually
making a suite of private offices available for a documentation group.
There are cases of individual tech writers having their own offices for
a short while -- I was so blessed once (okay, I shared the office),
before I was relocated into sharing a cubicle with a technician who
turned out to be a pretty good bunkie -- but that's usually only
because there's no open cubicles readily available. At this job, as it
turned out, I actually asked to be moved onto the Manufacturing floor so
that I could be where the action was, which is where I felt I needed to
be at the time. Didn't get it, but folks at least liked the pro-active
thought. =) In the end, the line operators and Line Maintenance folks
came to me when they had something they wanted to get documented. Good
warm & fuzzy feeling generator for me.

In my career, I've had to write at a desk in a trailer out at the old
Hunters Point Navy base and test site in San Francisco and at Vandenberg
AFB in Lompoc before, usually without benefit of computer, though that's
probably not the norm any more, what with us having finally won the
Cold War and all. Cold as ice when someone comes in; wind blows in off
the Bay something fierce on a blustery day. Noisier than a set of dry
wheel bearings, too, when the test engineers want to have a meeting at
the only place that offers protection from wind, cold and rain on site
-- the test site trailer. And having a newspaper background as I do, I
can tell you firsthand that a city room full of reporters can get real
loud when deadline time approaches. That city room often includes copy
editors who are trying to edit on the fly so they can get the stories to
the press room in time for the first run. And these are writers and
editors of the first magnitude, thank you! =)

Not to be disrespectful to Ms. Mazo, but maybe it's time to spend some
time at a newspaper, a trailer at a test site or even on an assembly
line at some plant! You can learn more on the assembly line than you
can at an engineering meeting in a conference room. And some
programmers I know have been known to go out on the floor and write
changes to the code that some test programs use, because we had
production schedules to meet.

Also, you might actually find the trailer remarkably relaxing, because
you get to go outside regularly! Beats heck out of staying indoors all
the time! If you get lucky enough to be outside at Hunters Point
sometime on a good day, the view of the Bay is spectacular and that's
Gospel according to me! =) At the very least, earplugs are, on the
average, 29 cents at the local hardware store and work wonders. Radios
with headsets are a good rock 'n' rollin' second choice. If all else
fails, respect and courtesy in asking others to hold it down (especially
if the folks talking don't work in your immediate work area) goes a long
way. =)

Sorry I couldn't give any reasons for your own digs. Just not ever
likely to happen in a bazillion years. Consider it an occupational
hazard and move forward with improving the skills set. ; )

George Mena
Technical Writing Consultant
George -dot- Mena -at- esstech -dot- com
ESS Technology, Inc.
48401 Fremont Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538


Our Documentation Group is having a hard time justifying private offices
for technical writers to Product Development. We need some strong
reasons to justify that we are different than developers and work more
productively in a quiet working space, especially when we performing
editing duties.

Thanks in advance if you share any of your ideas.

Debbie Mazo, Technical Writer
Creo Products, Inc.
dmazo -at- creo -dot- com


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