Job Security

From chapter 48 of Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson:

“Fisheye has taken what appears to be an instruction manual from the heavy black suitcase. It is a miniature three-ring binder with pages of laser-printed text. The binder is just a cheap unmarked one bought from a stationery store. In these respects, it is perfectly familiar to Hiro: it bears the earmarks of a high-tech product that is still under development. All technical devices require documentation of a sort, but this stuff can only be written by the techies who are doing the actual product development, and they absolutely hate it, always put the dox question off to the very last minute. Then they type up some material on a word processor, run it off on the laser printer, send the departmental secretary out for a cheap binder, and that’s that.”

Snowcrash was published in 1992 or thereabouts, well before the explosion of web- and mobile-based text. Technical writers seldom produce printed “dox” anymore. Some things though have definitely not changed since that bygone era. Techies (read: programmers) still absolutely hate writing documentation, and they still always put it off to the very last minute. So they hire people like me to do it for them.

You might think it’s a grind doing what the programmers hate. Sometimes it is. You might also think programmers would have learned a thing or two by now about the business value of starting dox early in the dev process, and doing it well.

But then again, I’m not complaining too much. As they say, job security.

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