Friday, 20 June 2008

Writer and... what?

An STC colleague spotted an advert on the Washington DC "craigslist" message board that takes the idea of combining careers to new heights - or depths. In what appears to be a serious advert for a copywriter to work on marketing materials - a post requiring a degree in Journalism or similar and that reports directly to the "Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing" - there is what the advertiser refers to as "a twist": "while you are writing copy you will also fill the role of security guard".

Reassuringly, the advertiser adds "You won’t carry a gun". The advert goes on to explain "The security guard spends most of the shift seated at the reception desk, and there will be very minimal security duties. Practically the entire shift you will be able to focus on writing copy – you’ll just happen to be wearing a uniform." (You can read the original advert here.)

We've all heard stories of successful writers and artists who began their adult lives by working in a series of unskilled jobs until they were recognised professionally. Some people do have two careers in parallel, like the American poet Wallace Stevens who had a lifetime career as an insurance company executive. But I've never come across an actual job description that said "copywriter and security guard" before.

This advert would be very funny if it wasn't betraying a disturbingly arrogant and condescending attitude to writers - and to security guards. "Your job looks easy, so it can't be important. You just sit around most of the day so you're not "doing" anything."

I hope this company gets the copywriter - and the security - it deserves.

Speaking on DITA

I've been invited to speak at a British Computer Society event on XML and DITA in London on 15th July. Details and registration at:

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

DITA Exchange discussed on an MSDN blog

John Mullinax of Microsoft has discussed DITA Exchange in an interview with Steffen Fredericksen on his MSDN blog under the title Democratizing DITA

This presents a very interesting overview of DITA Exchange, and discusses how the forthcoming Office Business Application for Microsoft Word 2007 will make it even easier for subject matter experts and other contributors to collaborate on creating DITA compliant technical documentation.