Re: CHAT: how times have changed

Subject: Re: CHAT: how times have changed
From: "Jessica N. Lange" <jlange -at- OEE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 07:56:44 -0500

Kathleen Kuvinka said

>What I am more interested in, Jessica, is why you feel
>that things HAVE changed??

Because of my experience here of course-- I've worked here for almost 9
years and have seen a lot of changes. After years of crying in the wind,
advocating for the user, I've seen a sea change occur. Where before an
engineer designed what he thought would work in a manner that pleased him,
today we've got design teams that include TWs, trainers, & marketing. Seven
years ago I documented a window for creating grids that included over 50
controls. The engineers loved it and refused to change anything. (No user
ever used it.) Today, when I point out "this takes extra steps. couldn't
these two steps be combined," they *do* look into it: suggestions on behalf
of the user are seriously considered and usually taken. TWs speak for the
user. When the user is happy, the company makes money. It's as simple as

Also, I've always read as much as I can about tech writing, including the
scads of info available on the 'Net (including this list). The attitude of
others towards us seems to have changed over the years. For one thing,
there's a heck of a lot more information! But also:

-- Look at how many schools today offer TW degreed courses; most didn't
exist a decade ago. Great article in STC's InterCom magazine a few months
ago about how some high schools today are offering technical writing courses
as alternatives to traditional English classes. Students prefer TW class,
and even get better jobs after graduation.

-- Look at how the popular press lists TW'ing as a Good Career--a post on
this list just this week points that out: 'FYI: Tech Comm Makes US News &
World'. These days, I often read reviews of SW products that also mention
the documentation.

-- A friend who was downsized recently has been spending a lot of time
researching careers, and she tells me that tech writing is at the top of the
list of good careers. (no, I don't know *what* list :-))

It may be that my feelings simply reflect my limited experiences (my 12
years as a TW have been spent in just two companies).


Jessica N. Lange                             jlange -at- oee -dot- com
Technical Communicator, Ohio Electronic Engravers, Inc.

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