[biztech-discussion] Re: Moving Forward #2

  • From: <margh@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <biztech-discussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2004 08:59:15 -0400

I am in a position to do research/write analyses of the impact of 
offshoring on manufacturing and software documentation, to include a 
very personal perspective. 

However, I have a couple of reservations.

1. I am not willing to work in a vacuum. Are there any active members 
on the East coast? I've been a NWU member for less than a year and have 
not seen any compelling reason to renew my membership. The New Jersey 
local is consuming itself with petty squabbling, and I haven't seen any 
activity posted on the Philadelphia website pertinent to professional 
BizTech ("networking" in barrooms isn't a preferred activity either -- 
that's why I quit local STC and IABC chapters).

I have several years worth of letters-to-the-editor and blog postings 
that have drawn some interesting comments, so I have some ideas where 
in-depth analysis has to go. However, as Samantha has pointed out, good 
ideas (and intentions) aren't enough to create the energy needed to get 
any traction with the issues. Not only is leadership needed, but timely 
critical review of whatever goes in front of the public (and the UAW!) 
under the NWU aegis needs to have a certain amount of membership 
support. Otherwise, I might as well be back on my own writing letters 
and posting opinions on techie blogs.

2. The NWU is entering the political scene rather late in this 
political game. H-1B visas have terrorized technical writing 
professionals ever since the Y2K panic. H-1B quotas were established by 
the manipulative and possibly corrupt lobbying practices of the ITAA 
and Harris Miller. The results, which we haven't seen the end of yet, 
include "dumbing down" the profession to accommodate ESL writers with 
only paper qualifications, the loss of experienced professional mentors 
to "ageism", stagnation followed by decrease of the hourly rates in 
every industry except pharmaceuticals, a disgusting proliferation 
of "body shops" accompanied by the demise of professional contract hire 
engineering firms, and extremely short-cycle contracts (from an average 
of 2 years to an average of 3 months). Quality in technical writing has 
become a bad joke.

The disappearance of work resulting from the same management 
incompetence that has created H-1B and offshoring led to homelessness - 
living in the woods and decrepit rooming houses -- twice in my career. 
Offshoring has turned out to be a bonanza, in a way; I have had many 
opportunities to clean up the messes created by this business model.

Any NWU position that focuses on the offshoring issues while ignoring H-
1B issues is, in my experience, wasted energy. The folks who have sold 
out the American worker have an extensive arsenal of weapons that we 
cannot ignore (L-1 visas are next).

I've been "pissing into the wind" for a long time on my own. I had some 
hope, when I joined the NWU, that I would meet other writers who were 
interested in re-creating the professional status of technical writing. 
I can continue to attempt to raise the standards on my own, but I am 
not willing to pay escalating NWU dues for the privilege of pissing 
into the wind.

Margherite Williams

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