Telecomm writing vs. Software writing

Subject: Telecomm writing vs. Software writing
From: Joe Schrengohst <jschreng -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 11:26:47 -0700

I have done hardware, software, and telecom writing for 25 years.
The "telecom world" has its own set of jargon, just as the data
networking world has its set. Both are governed, for the most
part, by commonly accepted standards, but both have notable
exceptions to those standards. The company I currently work
with is a leader in both.

Here are my answers to your questions.

1. The qualities needed to "succeed in the telecom environment"
are the same as those needed to succeed in any environment;
interest, enthusiasm, effort, and ability.

2. The "mindset" you need is "I want to learn about this field"
and, yes, it does involve a certain amount of "engineering," but
it is definitely not rocket science or brain surgery.

3. You'll find that the telecom world is becoming more and more
software oriented (as opposed to hardware oriented, which it used
to be). I don't believe there's any real "transition" involved.

4. The distinction between the "telecom" and "data networking"
environments is fading very rapidly. I'm sure you've read about
the "convergence" of "telephony" and "data" in the trade journals.
It is happening, so you need to know a lot about both areas.

>I am considering making a switch to technical writing for a telecom
>company. My background is mainly software documentation, with lots of
>other side projects on various topics. I'd like input on the following
>1. What qualities are needed to succeed in the telecom environment? Do
>they differ from those needed in the software environment?
>2. How much of an engineering mindset do you need?
>3. Is it possible to transition back to software documentation?
>4. Anything else telecom writers can offer that would be helpful in
>making a decision in this regard.

Joe Schrengohst
Contract Technical Writer
Cisco Systems
Network Software Services Unit
170 West Tasman Drive
San Jose, CA 95134
E-Mail: jschreng -at- cisco -dot- com
Cisco Phone: (408) 527-9844
Cisco Fax: (408) 527-1488
Home Phone: (775) 782-4129
Home Fax: (775) 782-5585

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