Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spin Cycle: "Adventures" in Technical Writing

For this week's spin, I thought I'd try to liven up the world with an adventure-filled account of what it is I do. Because? Technical Writing is like...whatever Chandler's job was. Technical Writing, What is it? 101: If you ever bought, say, one of these:

Chances are you received one of these: Which looked something like this:

Written somewhere, like say, here:

(gauzy finish courtesy of scratched camera phone lens)

By someone like THIS:

Who tried to make it interesting, accurate, grammatically correct, and laid out beautifully.

What this means is that I know a little bit about how to do a lot of one-time, ultimately obscure things. Like setting up your yacht navigation software. Or how to flash printer firmware. Or how to use your home gym equipment. Or set up retail software to track sales of athletic gear.

Naturally. I know all that. It's a GREAT hit at parties...

Maybe. I also have selective-job-amnesia, so I forget what I've written pretty much as soon as it goes to press.

I sound more and more like Indiana Jones/Tarzan all the time. Right?

Here's a question: How often do you use Owner's Manuals? Every day? Seriously. Have you ever read one? Ever?

That's what I thought...

11 comments:

M said...

The only owner's manual that I read consistently is the one for my sewing machine. Since I have no sewing skills whatsoever, it's not surprising that I need instructions on how to thread my bobbin every. single. time. Perhaps this is a family trait: you forget everything you've written in manuals, and I forget everything that I read in my manual.

MrsD said...

OMG, I was just thinking I didn't read them and then I read "M"'s comment and I thought, Oh yeah...I totally read my sewing machine manual nearly every time I use it.

Sprite's Keeper said...

And here's where I have the last laugh. My father IS a technical writer! One of the best out there and I've been around this my entire life! I've even been to an STC meeting. You're SO linked and I like you even more now!

Comedy Goddess said...

I have to admit, I do read them, mostly because technology has moved so far beyond me, I need all the help I can get!

Nora said...

I love this "behind the scenes"! I don't often READ them, per se, but I KEEP all of them. You always need them eventually, and then you NEED them.

Laufa said...

So do you try out the object you are writing about - like tht bow-flex? I had a visual of you trying to work out in a dress. I had to giggle. I read the directions on how to work or put things together. I am the installer/programmer for any new technology that comes into my parents house. I also had to teach my sister-in-law how to work her camera. Thank you for writing the instructions, it makes my life a little easier.

HeatherPride said...

Yeah....the owners manuals I usually get are obviously written in either India or China because they always contain queer syntax and instructions to put x peg in slot y when all the pegs are actually numbered and there are no slots at all.

zeldabee said...

I read tech manuals for fun. There, I said it.

Shangrila said...

You will be glad to hear that I read and keep the owner's manuals to EVERYTHING. They have their own FILE! I have manuals for appliances that I DON"T EVEN OWN ANYMORE! You have taught me how to: replace the broken latch on my dishwasher, replace the filter in my furnace, drain my water heater, program the settings on our water softener, use my ipod, sew bubttonholes with my sewing machine...you get the picture! I totally appreciate you, because homeownership would be a disaster instead of an adventure without technical writers! :)

Lee said...

I loved this post :) I read manuals for how to put things together, I have to because my husband will just jump in and attempt to put things together through sheer will and I have to jump in and use the manual to put it together before we end up with a pile of sticks. If that makes any sense, lol!

Jodi Mardesich said...

hey! did you know my first post-college job was technical writing? i had to write manuals about how to use Netware. !!! oh, i feel for you.