How old is the profession: a cautionary tale

Subject: How old is the profession: a cautionary tale
From: "Mark X. Dempsey" <mxd2 -at- OSI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 08:21:58 -0700

Human Ego 1, Technology 0

Writing was invented in ancient Sumeria several thousand years ago. It
was such an important discovery that kings who could read and write
would commemorate that fact on their victory monuments ("I, Hammurabi
have slain yea these many Hittites...and I can *read*!")

Scribes strictly controlled the cuneiform conventions embodying this
ancient form of writing, and even more strictly controlled who was given
access to their secrets. The technical term for this is "guild
literacy."

When others invented competing, simpler alphabets (Hebrew is one) so the
common folks could read and write too, the official records remained in
cuneiform. The scribes even made their cuneiform just a little more
complicated too....

The parallels to this tale in the technical writing, legal, medical, and
other professions are too numerous to mention. The next time you're
tempted to put complication (read "job security") before clarity,
though, just remember how many Sumerians are around now...

-- mailto:Mark -dot- Dempsey -at- osi -dot- com
--
-- Mark Dempsey
-- Technical Publications
-- Objective Systems Integrators
-- 101 Blue Ravine Rd, Folsom, CA 95630
-- 916.353.2400 x 4777




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