Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 09:59:43 -0800

<rising slowly from easy chair, joints creaking>

'bout us old-timers being behind the curve -- now justadarnminnit, you
young whippersnapper! <g>

Andrew Plato wrote:
> In my experience, many writers who claim to be
> "experienced" are inflexible, obsessive, and lazy. Many of them are deeply
> entrenched in form, style and fonts and completely ignore subject matter,
> technical accuracy, and audience needs. Likewise, many of these so-called
> "experienced writers" lag way behind the technology curve.

Granted, there are inflexible, obsessive, and lazy technical writers of
all ages and descriptions. I've seen some freshly-minted college grads
with one course in HCI come into my office, eyes ablaze with
quasi-religious fervor, ready to slay the dragons of obfuscation, only
to trip and sprawl over such mundane concepts as audience definition,
consistent tone, meeting deadlines, etc. I've also seen more august
personalities (well, they thought they were, anyway) try to slide by
responsibilities by getting others to do their work. I've also seen
outright lying about technical competence by both young and old,
although the young ones do seem more inventive and the older ones tend
to be more sly.

Our office simply doesn't have time for people who won't learn new
tools, especially when the client needs demand it. Of course, our
company culture requires that we ALL learn new tools during the year
anyway, so people who refuse to learn don't stick around long.

However, in my experience age and years of experience isn't necessarily
inversely corellated with how malleable a technical writer is going to
be. The point that Andrew Plato made about a writer who dismissed
Windows as being an untenable technology could equally be made about Mac
fanatics, or Unix enthusiasts.

Andrew would rather hire young, inexperienced writers for his
subcontracting work. While we hire young, inexperienced writers as
interns, we wouldn't dream of putting them to work on client projects
without a more seasoned veteran involved to manage and guide each

And as for us ol' geezers, there's a folk maxim around here somewhere
that age and cunning beats youth and beauty every time.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems, or

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