OT humor - Y2K preparedness

Subject: OT humor - Y2K preparedness
From: "Alex Silbajoris" <alsilba -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 11:47:38 PST


Will you as a tech writer be ready for Y2K? Let's consider a few common tech writing tools and their applicability:

Computers: Forget them. Remember that on midnight, December 31, 1999, the ghost of Thomas Edison will alight on Times Square and take away electricity. Therefore no computers will continue to operate, with the exception of a few laptop models which will run on battery power for two or four hours into the new century.

Typewriters: Possibly useful, with some limitations. Barring unforseen problems such as a need for mechanical repairs, typewriters might continue to funtion as long as you can provide them with ink and paper. Hoarders have already snapped up all 31 remaining typewriter ribbons in stock in US stores, so you will have to re-ink your existing ribbons when the time comes. Start saving your used coffee grounds for this purpose.

Paper: Limited supplies of 8.5X11 sheets will drive market value. Eventually it will be profitable to mine old sheets out of landfills and recondition them. Farther into the future there will be no new paper at all, and we will have to scribble in the margins of cast-off Kaypro manuals.

Pencils, pens: Various types of pens will function as long as their ink supply lasts. Pencils will all eventually be sharpened down to nothing, and we will have to use recycled pencils made from pressed pencil shavings. Mechanical pencils will be museum oddities once the supply of graphite refills is exhausted.

Berry juice and birch bark: Robust, renewable, and affordable. Far more portable than stone or clay tablets, with the added advantage of still being useable as fuel at the end of the documentation life cycle.

Stone (or clay) tablets: Cumbersome, but with unsurpassed durability. These may gain further acceptance if writers can find a way to bring the audience to the documentation, instead of having to distribute documentation to the audience. Data fragmentation could present a challenge.

Oral history: This drastic departure from previous techniques may be the last available route for technical documentation. Through the use of Homerian stanzas and recitation techniques, tech writers could be able to relate information around the campfire for generations into the future. Version control could be a problem, but audience feedback would be quick and clear.

- A

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