RE: Who dreams up these things?

Subject: RE: Who dreams up these things?
From: jwaddell <jwaddell -at- micron -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 14:20:29 -0600


In true tech writer fashion, you just described a process by which you
write. I sure that you could even expand the "bang out a doc" step to show
what you really do, such as generate an outline etc. You use a process,
perhaps much less formal, but a definite process. You just don't want to
admit it.

John Waddell
Technical Writer
Micron Technology
jwaddell -at- micron -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Plato [mailto:intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 1999 10:31 AM
Subject: RE: Who dreams up these things?

> I think you went fishing again and caught few. Who are you trying to kid
> when you say, "Can't you just write the manual? I mean - how frickin'
> is it to write a manual. I'm a moron and I do it all the time." Are you
> trying to tell us you don't use any kind of process when you write a
> I think not. You wouldn't be where you are today owning your own business
> if you weren't using a well planned and tested process for doing your
> So, what is it? Are you willing to tell us?

When I write a manual here is what I do:

Fiddle with the product.
Blab with the engineers.
Read materials from similar products.
Wander around thinking.
Pet the cat
Jam a pencil in my ear.
Eat some Bean with Bacon soup.
Plant my ass in a chair.
Bang out a doc.
Curse at FrameMaker.
File | Print
Submit it for review.
Wash the car.

In other words - I have absolutely no process. And to date I seem to be
fine as are many of my "non-process obsessed" colleagues. I have clients
begging for my work. Okay, maybe they just like my stellar personality and
swank choice of clothing - but I am leaning toward my skills or my breath.

Just because you invent a process or adopt someone else's does not mean you
will be a better company. These so-called trademarked "processes" and
"methodologies" are just the modern equivalent of Miracle Elixirs that
to grow hair and make your nipples harder.

People fall in love with processes because they provide the illusion of
productivity and rationality. They sell these insanely complex and
oh-so-detailed little methodologies to people thinking they have conquered
age old problems of chaos and entropy. Guess what? Chaos still reigns in
universe and last time I checked with God (I have her pager number), she did
not mention anything about a technical writer being able to conquer this
universal law. She did say something about whales however, I was pretty
at the time, but that is another story.

Large corporations want two things: money and fame. CEOs would sell cans of
scalding hot cans of plutonium to orphans if they thought it could bring
one of those two things. Nobody on earth wants a new stupid methodology -
merely buy into that crap because it looks good on a PowerPoint slide.

Face reality gang, writing is hard work. The best writers are those that
sit their big asses down and write documents. Preach rational models,
acronyms to everything, and become entranced with the exquisite nature of
procedure - a process has never once in the entire history of human
been the catalyst for genius.

Genius comes from hard, mental work. If your company is having problems
things done, your problem is not with the lack of processes. It is
overwhelmingly the result of the lazy, unmotivated slobs you work among.
you get the slobs motivated to work or fire them and hire new slobs.

Why work and take risks when you can preach ridiculous process models?

Why actually produce something, for which you may be ridiculed, when you can
seem all "logical" and "rational" with some ridiculous process.

Why do anything when you can do nothing and make it sound brilliant?

So my point is, get your head out of these stupid methodologies and go
out what the hell your company is producing. If your boss gets in your way
ignore him/her. Take a frickin' risk in your life for once and try thinking
outside the box for 1/100th of a second. You might, actually do something
truly unique and make the world a better place.

And get a damn haircut. And stop talking with your mouth open. And send me


Andrew Plato
Extra-box Genius
The El Box-O Method
El Casa Grande de los Locos.
Author of "I have more squirrels in my pants than you" and "The Atari 800

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