Re: New slant: professionalism

Subject: Re: New slant: professionalism
From: Roger Mallett <roger -at- CSICAL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 15:34:33 -0700

Well George,

Just for the record,

My intention in commenting on what you said was to confirm what you were
getting at. That is, that mil-spec writers have there act together.
Mil-spec writers have to have it right the first time through because
the customer is very demanding (and has the right to be, as it costs
lots of bucks to write those manuals).

It has always been my personal contention, throughout my career, that
those who write for Military projects, as a group, are the best tech
writers available. None are better. I do not know any tech writer that
I ever worked with in Aerospace that didn't give everything he had. In
my opinion, they are top performers.

Does this clarify anything, or am I still lost.

>From: George Mena[SMTP:George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM]
>Sent: Friday, April 24, 1998 3:05 PM
>Subject: Re: New slant: professionalism
>I wanted to respond to something Roger Mallett said for a minute: =)
>I think *every* tech writer, regardless of the industry s/he writes
>always strives to be as right as possible; checking, double checking,
>triple checking, always trying to make sure everything's right the
>time whenever possible.
>And now, to continue...
>I submitted my original post because I know of both tech writers and
>*engineers* who've run into a lot of the elitism from the commercial
>high-tech side of the world. Imagine being an engineer who's developed
>part of a launcher system who's now trying to find work at a disk drive
>manufacturer like Quantum. Now imagine the engineer, maybe in his 40s
>or 50s, being told by some 30 year old that Quantum can't use him
>because he's never designed a hard disk drive in his life.
>I've seen way too much of that in my lifetime, both as an observer and
>as a participant. Never mind that the 30 year old *could* learn
>something from someone who's been around the block more. That's where
>I'm coming from. =)
>It's also been suggested I try a little leniency with respect to the
>post Jane Bergen wrote that really bothered me. For the record, I did
>initially consider directing my post privately to her. I also thought
>about asking her for a retraction. In the end, I decided not to
>* there still remains a fair amount of discrimination in TW hiring
>practices, or at least I think so, when it comes to not hiring a tech
>writer because he once worked in the mil-spec world. I consider this
>type of discrimination unconscionable, just as much as those who felt
>closing remark to Jane was just as unconscionable.
>* I felt the community here could benefit from this type of discussion
>and hopefully see it as an honest attempt to raise the community
>consciousness. That had to outweigh any criticism, justified or not,
>that may have -- and did -- come my way as a result of my having posted
>what I did.
>It was my intent to attack what I felt was an inappropriate stereotype
>that was being presented to us by Jane. I did that. In the process,
>however, I also learned that some people felt they were being attacked,
>or that I was attacking Jane and not the stereotype she'd posted. That
>was regrettable and that was not my intent at all.
>To those who felt I somehow personally attacked them, my apologies.
>Jane and I obviously need to have something of a civilized discussion
>offline, and I hope we can have that.
>In the end, it's the profession itself we have to be loyal to. It's
>what we do. The latest techniques don't matter as much as getting
>things right. And using the latest tools doesn't matter as much as
>making sure we've made the documentation the best we know how to make
>and to meet the deadlines assigned to us. That's what matters, in my
>Have a good weekend, folks. Thanks to all who provided input. =)
>George Mena
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Roger Mallett [SMTP:roger -at- CSICAL -dot- COM]
>> Sent: Friday, April 24, 1998 11:58 AM
>> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>> Subject: Re: New slant: professionalism
>> ><snip> (from Jane) How many people have you run
>> >> >> into who, when you tell them you're a technical writer, laugh
>> about
>> >> >> "those computer manuals that no one can understand"? Those are
>> the
>> >> >> legacy of early tech writers who wrote mil specs or who
>> understood
>> >> >> the technology but failed as communicators. <snip>
>> ><snip> (from Beverly) Yes, but the broken books
>> > >you are fixing were written by yourcontemporaries,
>> >not colleagues of long ago. <snip>
>> Beverly,
>> I wasn't thinking of books written by my exclusively by my
>> contemporaries. I simply feel that legacy earned by writers from long
>> ago is just as applicable to writers today. Think about the last time
>> you read a book concerning a complicated/technical subject (new or
>> old).
>> Was it enjoyable?, was it easy to read?, should it have been so? For
>> the reading I have in mind when I ask the question, the answers are a
>> resounding NOs.
>> To introduce my background, I spent years editing and writing mil-spec
>> manuals for Rockwell. While there I wrote the products for various
>> weapons systems, avionics, aircraft, radio/radar, security, etc. (and
>> yes George, what I wrote was absolutely accurate, all errors uncovered
>> and corrected before val/ver). I have had my hands deep into the work
>> of previous writers, fixing, editing, tearing apart, rebuilding, etc.
>> (some of the writers whose work I put my surgeons knife to were
>> contemporaries, some gone a decade or more before I came on the
>> scene).
>Find contractor info at

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