Rethinking Randal's Rant

Subject: Rethinking Randal's Rant
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 14:28:02 -0700

If you listen closely, you can hear the frustration he's trying -- and
failing -- to voice adequately. This man is like the little kid with
his nose pressed up against the glass window of the local candy store:
on the outside looking in, wishing he had some money to get the candy he
knows he wants. Does he know what he's talking about? No -- and yes.
He wants in, but as a little kid, he's not strong enough to open the
door, let alone tall enough to reach the handle.

Technologies, both current and emerging, can be frustrating to those
folks who want to enter tech writing and for those who want to enter
different industries that use tech writers. Please consider:

1) In the biotechnology field, and especially here in the San Francisco
Bay Area, the local firms do ask for those folks with advanced degress
who'll readily accept the technical writing responsibilities, either as
tech writers or as part of their larger jobs as research scientists.
Publishing or perishing is very critical, especially in scientific
endeavors such as AIDS vaccine development. Yet just how many tech
writers working today in the computer, software, defense or banking
industries could successfully transition over to the biotech field if
they don't understand how antigens and antibodies work? Perhaps it's a
good idea to ask how many of us tech writers on this list today could
successfully transition to biotechnology-based tech writing.

2) The computer revolution of the 1980s is now beginning to redefine the
way we as a planetary civilization communicate with each other. As the
redefinition progresses, we're seeing -- and literally inventing -- the
future now. Televisions and telephones
once served different purposes. Television was created to help us "see
it now", whether "it" was a satellite view of a hurricane, a baseball
game or a shooting war. The telephone was created to help us talk to
people far away. With the advent of nuclear weapons and
computer-controlled systems came the need for secure real-time
audio/video communications. We now call that technology personal
computers and the Internet. It was inevitable that this redefinition
occur, especially before the end of the 20th Century. And it will occur
because it is occurring already.

In closing, while Randal's inability on knowing how to unsubscribe from
a listserver is easy to make fun of, we can at least hope he does find
work as a tech writer. The last thing anyone needs in this lifetime is
another Theodore J. Kacyzinski, aka the Unabomber. If you read his
manifesto as I did, he was *far* from crazy, deranged and jailed
(thankfully) as he otherwise is. He also hated technology. What he
*did* about it was fatal and he was able to stay free for 18 years.

See y'all on the dark side of the moon later...

George Mena
Technical Writing Consultant
George -dot- Mena -at- esstech -dot- com

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