Re: Famous Technical Writers?

Subject: Re: Famous Technical Writers?
From: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 17:55:23 -0000

>>One other possible candidate (with a stretch):
>>Julius Caesar - some of his military treatises are very technical

With rather less of a stretch, what about Mrs Beeton? She pioneered the
modern recipe book (first list the ingredients, then describe the method)
and her original manual was, effectively, a technical manual for
housework/cooking.

Furthermore, she really *is* a household name. (Or, contemporary version:
Delia Smith.)

However, in the modern sense of "technical author", and assuming what was
meant was "famous *as* a technical author", I'm bound to say that I don't
think fame is ever likely to happen, for two reasons, one trivial, one by
the very nature of a technical author's job:

(a) Normally whatever we write goes out anonymously, copyright the company
that owns the software, and

(b) the users only notice us when something goes wrong: and that is infamy,
not fame. A manual written by a good technical author is so unobtrusively
helpful that the users never really notice that they're learning things they
never knew before: one thing leads to another, it all seems very clear and
obvious, and you mean someone actually sat down and *wrote* this?

(And I *have* been asked for my autograph... but if you think that makes me
famous, I have this really nice bridge I'd like to sell you.)

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Compaq, UK
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.






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