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Dear Viv: Advice for the Discerning Technical Communicator 1Q08
2008, Q1 (June 18, 2008)
By Viv, Chapter Member

Whether it's how to get ahead or get a partner, Viv is there with good advice. Please send your questions to dearviv at stc-carolina dot org.

Dear Viv,

Many of my colleagues are working with cool, cutting-edge authoring and content management technologies. In the meantime, I toil away using a vintage-1980s text-formatting system, where I must manually insert code. Will this damage my future marketability? Will this ruin my eyesight?


Dear Notepad,

I regret to hear you're not among the technical communicator glitterati, the privileged few who work exclusively in XML and know DITA and CMS architecture better than their own spouses. Go to any conference attended by said glitterati, and you'll find the majority are bored to tears. Content reuse. Modular writing. Chunking topics (not to be confused with discarding topics). Data storage and retrieval.


Cutting edge is subjective. Once you've performed any task repeatedly, you're left with...a task. And once you've discovered its flaws, the cutting edge factor decreases dramatically.

I'll tell you a story. In my previous life, I frequented a small Mediterranean restaurant and got to know the husband and wife co-owners fairly well. One day I complained to the wife about my rapidly deteriorating marriage. She said "Honey, one husband is as good as another" in her thick Lebanese accent. I'll never forget the weary sound of resignation in her voice.

So the moral of the story, Notepad, is this: The grass always looks greener, but is greener always good? Maybe not.

So if coding 80's style doesn't trip your trigger, give it a few more months and then consider taking that leap. You'll probably be glad you didn't make any impulsive decisions.

p.s. I didn't take the restaurant owner's advice :+D

Yours truly,

Viv can be reached at dearviv at stc-carolina dot org. End of article.

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