Re: Technophobia/Information Anxiety/who are we?

Subject: Re: Technophobia/Information Anxiety/who are we?
From: Kris Olberg <kjolberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 12:57:38 -0600

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Hamilton <chamilton -at- gr -dot- com>
Date: Friday, December 12, 1997 11:18 AM
Subject: Re: Technophobia/Information Anxiety/who are we?

>DURL wrote:
>> Now the question is, "Which is more important--one's writing
>> skills, or one's software skills?"
>I don't think you can afford to pick one over the other. I think you've
>got to keep up with both.

Having gone over to the dark side,* I seen a clear delineation of the focus
required for each discipline. I wrote user documentation for over a dozen
years. Then I wrote programmer documentation for some years. Now I write my
own system documentation. My objective as a writer in each those tasks has
not transformed significantly, if at all, and remains "to present new
information in such a way that it enables the reader to complete a task or
job." Only the audience has changed.

Programming, in its pure form, has a very different objective, which is to
satisfy the needs of the interpreter or compiler. Compilers and interpreters
lack emotion: they don't get upset it you refer to "master" and "slave";
they may even require their use. They speak only one language with an nearly
infinitessimally small vocabulary. Punctuation is neither arbitrary nor
optional. Logic is not perceived; it is exact. Mathematics is not to be
explained but a tool to be used.

Programming and writing are not mutually exclusive skills. In fact, their
skills sets form an intersection that is more the rule than the exception.
However, I believe it is rare to find a person who satisfies the skill set
equal to the union AND has the desire to pursue both AND can excel at both.

What you pursue as a focus is a function of you, not the skills demanded by
a current or prospective employer. If you want to write, then write. If you
want to program, then program. Or do both. Whatever you choose, do it well
and like it. If it stresses you out, it probably isn't a good fit.

Last of all, don't worry about being everything to everybody. I predict that
a crisis--not necessarily bad--is nearing on this issue. Right now the line
between programming and writing is significantly blurred but will come into
focus, just as it has more than once in the past.

* means that I've gone from a technical writer to a software engineer

kolberg -at- actamed -dot- com
kris -at- olberg -dot- com, or

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