Re: Okay, So I'm Not Done After All :D (WAS: WHAT did you say?)

Subject: Re: Okay, So I'm Not Done After All :D (WAS: WHAT did you say?)
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 18:17:38 -0700


I guess I'm not done after all, as I find myself needing to respond to
Tracy Boyington's remarks. :D

/Rant on/

One respondent to an earlier post of mine offered the concept that "Too
many "writers" have missed the opportunity to do real "hands on" work
(as opposed to writing about vapor-ware)."

Whether anyone likes it or not, it would be nice to keep what American
manufacturing jobs we have here on American soil so that we can HAVE
jobs at all. And I don't think I'm off-base when I say that other
countries with similar concerns feel the same way about their domestic
manufacturing jobs.

Software can just as easily be developed overseas as it can be here. So
can Web pages. And it's much easier to transport it over the Internet
to sell it over here. Or over there, wherever "there" is. That means
if you document software for a living today, somebody else somewhere
else can be earning your paycheck tomorrow. Meanwhile, you're on the
unemployment line wondering what happened to your job.

In other words, I think today's software technical writers, programmers
and Web types are at risk and just don't realize it yet.

Around here (here being Silicon Valley), the ongoing discussion about
bringing in technical talent from overseas via the H1-B visa route
highlights a major problem: a lack of homegrown technical talent in
this country. US companies would hire US citizens with the sort of
technical talent they're looking for if they were around. These same
companies (and we have discussed this before, btw) also say that the
homegrown folks they're looking for just aren't around.

Why would it benefit tech writers to have manufacturing environment
experience? Because tech writers then learn about the product
production processes and how the processes play a key role in the tech
writer's understanding of the technology they're documenting.

In my opinion, it's a fool that believes "I don't have to know how it
works; that's what Engineering is supposed to tell us." That's not
being at all pro-active. And if your deadline is coming up quicker than
you'd like it to, and you still haven't heard from your engineers,
knowing how "it" works can be a great lifesaver. It also gives you a
perfect opportunity to chastise your engineers when they say a key
chapter in some manual is wrong.

Remember, some engineers aren't always going to have time to talk,
especially if they have four or five other projects to work on. And a
lot of engineers don't always place a high priority on documentation
that a tech writer does.

While it's easy to say "if they don't give you the information, that's
their fault", that still shouldn't excuse a tech writer from at least
trying to figure out how something is supposed to work. I call it
putting the "technical" in the term "technical writer."

And yes, I do know we don't all document just widgets or software, too,
thank God.

I think that's why we have something called music. :D

/Rant off/



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tracy Boyington [SMTP:tracy_boyington -at- OKVOTECH -dot- ORG]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 1998 2:16 PM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: WHAT did you say? (WAS: What is a SME?)
> > [George Mena] snip
> George, I see two problems with your argument. (1) If the
> manufacturing
> industry is leaving the U.S., then why would it benefit tech writers
> in
> the U.S. to have that experience? (2) While I'm sure your job and your
> experience are wonderful, I'd rather become well-rounded with
> experience
> that applies to *my* job and *my* interests, which have nothing to do
> with manufacturing. Remember, we don't all describe widgets and the
> many
> wonderful things you can do with them. We don't all document software
> either, for that matter. :-)
> Tracy
> --

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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