Oppressions of technical writers
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 97 12:01:42 -0800
Subject: Oppressions of technical writers
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: Dave Del Torto <email@example.com>
From: Mateo Burtch
Oppressions of technical writers:
The Society for Technical Communication (STC) released its annual Report on
the Status of Technical Writers today. This report, issued by the STC's
Writers' Committee on Technical Scribes, monitors the civil and human rights
of technical writers throughout the world and documents abuses against them.
It also includes a handy quick-reference guide to basic Fortran compiler
Overall, the report noted that the situation for technical writers the world
over is "precarious, and, in many cases, is worsening rapidly. In
particular, writers in the Third World routinely live in poverty and
squalor." (The report noted that this may apply to other people in the Third
World as well.)
The report concludes:
To the twin I-beams of Democracy and Freedom one may add those of Technical
Accuracy and Good Visual Layout. But these too are threatened by mankind's
age-old nemeses: Bigotry... Hatred ... Right Justification. If the human
race is not only to survive, but to prosper in the heart and in the mind
and in the soul, technical writers must practice their ageless craft
unencumbered by fear, privation, or schedules.
Some of the highlights of the Committee's report include:
o Worldwide deaths involving Courier Font have increased 9% over the past
o Canada recently passed legislation making the passive voice the national
o In China's remote Dimsum province, oxen are used in place of technical
writers, with no apparent loss of readability.
o In North Korea, police departments no longer use electric cattle prods
to torture dissidents, replacing them instead with extremely slow and
finicky daisy wheel printers.
o The Frame Technology Corporation now touts its product as "disposable."
o Torture of technical writers by roving gangs of hooligans known as
"editors" is rampant in Northern Ireland, where sectarian violence
between different spellers of "filesystem" runs out of control. One
particularly gruesome form of punishment is "chopping": holding a writer
down and then cutting the dangly thing off his cedilla.
o A similar practice is "stet-ing," the continual removal and replacement
of chunks of text, leaving the writer dazed and confused. (Or more dazed
and confused, to be exact.)
o A worldwide shortage of #2 pencils has left many technical writers in
poorer countries unable to take notes or doodle during meetings --
forcing them to pay attention or end the meeting by flinging live
poisonous insects at the other attendees.
o The Baath Socialist party of Syria has introduced the use of cuneiform
stone tablets, which jam PostScript printers.
What can you do? Lots. Send a letter to the head of government of one of
the cited countries; include a diagram with mixed fonts and at least one
incorrect cross-reference. Show them you mean business. Or write to the UN
High Commissioner on the Status of Technical Writers, stating that you are
categorically opposed to the use of mustard gas during staff meetings and
that you're still having problems figuring out which way the darn CD is
supposed to go in. Or you can have a fundraising party, inviting all your
technical writer friends and promising them that if they give a donation to
Save the Tech Writers you'll cancel the performance art you had scheduled
for the evening.
A copy of the report is available from the Copy Center and from your local
(c) 1992 Mateo Burtch
Yes, you can forward this; just keep my name attached to it or I'll publicly
link you with Ron Reagan.
© 1997 Peter Langston