Be careful what you post on the internet, they say, because once you do it’s out there forever. I suppose that’s true. In fact, it’s been true since before we had an internet. In …
This is a great story from Larry Kunz. I can relate to his story, although mine doesn’t go quite as far back as his does. I found that when I was working at a part-time position years ago, the system they used was what I call a Franken-system–something that had been built using several different method sewn together to work in its clunky way. As long as it functioned, that’s all that mattered. (I know the original developer of that system has since retired, and the webmaster I worked for has been slowly converting everything over to Drupal instead.) But because there were so many quirks with this system, I found it necessary to write a lot of notes on how to use the system. I found the notes to be very helpful when I was initially using the system, especially if there were actions that weren’t done often and I needed reminders. Flash forward to a few years later, and I’m hired back part-time temporarily to the same job. My notes were still in the desk! I found that 98% of the information still applied, and I still understood what my notes meant, as they were clear and organized. It was a moment that I knew that I was cut out to be a technical communicator. I know that my notes also helped two other people learn the system as well, so I think that’s “mission accomplished”.
How many times have you tried to do a web search to find something about an old product to come up short? How often is older documentation on an old product worth its weight in gold when you find it? It’s amazing how much things that we think are minor or mundane now can make a difference later, and I’m sure that’s part of what Larry was experiencing as well. He helped many people with his co-written newsletter, and how do we not know that these notes helped people who could later build other things or understand other concepts better in later products?
Do you have a similar story? Include your comments below.