Subject: Certification/Degrees
From: Alisa Dean <Alisa -dot- Dean -at- MCI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 12:49:00 -0700

Beth Mazur writes:
>Viewed this way, it isn't clear to me that certification addresses the basic
>problem...which is that some people view what we do as the province of the
>average educated high schooler.

When Mikhail Baryshnikov leaps 6 feet in the air, performs a flawless
pas a deus, and lands light as a feather, there will be some people
who think, "That didn't look so hard - I could do that." (BTW,
I'm sure I massacred the spelling above - please don't bother to
send me corrective emails.)

Unless someone is in the industry (any industry), it is very difficult
to truly understand the amount of effort to do something right. Simple,
clear writing takes a bit more time and energy than unclear, confusing
writing that occupies 4 times the space. And until someone has actually
tried to do it, they will remain ignorant about what it requires, and maybe
insensitive about its demands.

Either educate these poor souls, or if they are adamently uneducatable,
walk away. In my experience, most engineers who got stuck with the
documentation before my arrival were very grateful to pass it to me.
However, I have encountered individuals (including one who refused
to believe that it took me more than two weeks to write a 100 page
manual, from scratch) who really don't care about what I do, only that
their deadlines and deliverables may be impacted. I could go on and
on about some of my horror stories, as I'm sure pretty much everyone
else can, but the point is, there are jerks out there who are very
proud of their jerkiness. Usually, I find that it's not worth my time
and energy to bother with them, and if they have the power to make
me miserable at my job, I leave.

FWIW, most times good documentation is almost unnoticed, but bad
documentation is immediately pointed out. If whoever wants the
documentation quality that a high schooler can produce
(and I've seen some that can do it well), then they get what
they pay for. If they want a professional,
efficient job, then they must hire a professional. When the customer
slams them enough, maybe they will get the point. If not, customers
will take their money elsewhere.

Alisa Dean
Sr. Technical Writer
alisa -dot- dean -at- mci -dot- com

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