Re: Military Doc (Long)

Subject: Re: Military Doc (Long)
From: Paula Puffer <papuffer -at- PSQUAREDDOC -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 08:45:20 -0600

I've been sitting back and watching this one a bit and I'm responding to the
various posts in this one.

David Thompson wrote:
Are military tech. writers a separate sub-species?

No I consider the military technical writing I am doing now just another part
of my skill set, just like HTML and Document Design.

Rasil Ahuja wrote:

I think mil TWs are different from the rest simply because we kind of have free
reign. *I* decide the look and feel of my documents. Yes, there are military
standards, but I've yet to be asked to follow them.

As a tech writer working on a government project, this one disturbs me a bit, I
have a standard to follow and it's in my best interest and the user's interest
to follow it. I have found that by following the standard, some of the design
problems in the legacy documents have become readily apparent in my book. Has
it caused some problems with our contracting activity? The answer to that is a
big YES. But overall, I have found that the standards have made my job easier
in the long haul and has taught me to to plan even more carefully than I did.
It's also taught me to test to make sure that what I write works the way I says
it does, because the verification of the manual by the Army will catch my
mistakes.

Rasil also writes:

The flip side is that prospective employers may actually hold this against
me because the standards I set may not be quite up to par with theirs. This
really concerns me.

If it concerns you then you have to decide how you are going to act on your
concern. Are you going to continue to act as if the standards are there but not
made to be followed? Or, are you actually going to to start working with
standards on your project to make sure that what you are documenting follows
the standard set out in the Project Statement of Work?

and Finally Rasil states:
What's tiresome about documentation here is that they're evaluating new
technology as I write about what we have currently. So by the time I'm done
with my project, the documentation will most likely be passe!!!! Most
annoying....

That's the nature of the beast called technical writing. Technology changes
whether it is in the military or in the public side of things. You will always
be updating manuals to reflect the new technology or working with new
technology.

Kathleen Kuvinka writes about military documentation:

"the most rewarding aspect of the job was that the documentation was actually
USED."

This is a good thing. I never realized how much use the manual I am working on
gets until my PM manager said that on a site visit, the folks using the books
told him that the operator's manual is used by all levels, not just by the guy
driving the truck. It gave me a new perspective on the job I am doing.

Kathleen also writes:
Other aspects that differ from my commercial experience:

Access to state-of-the-art tools and technologies
This one depends on what kind of projects you are on.

Lousy pay, GREAT benefits
Don't know about this one. I think I am doing okay right now.

Security Clearance hassle
Not a problem with the program I am on.

Next to no production issues
Depends on your PM for the contracting activity. The lady who is my editor has
a very big issue with white space and with making sure that the line art is
very clear so the user can see what she/he is doing.

just my nickels worth,

Paula Puffer
papuffer -at- psquareddoc -dot- com


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