In the beginning, God created hardware. But the hardware was without form and void. So God said, “Let there be creatures to create the software for the hardware.” And there were software developers. And God saw that they were good.
And God said, “Let there be creatures to test and support the software.” And God created them, and called them “quality assurance engineers” and “technical support analysts”. And the software developers then had the fear of God upon them.
And God said, “Let there be another breed of creatures to sell and manage the software, so that it may reach the far corners of the world.” And God created salespeople, and marketers, and business analysts.
And then God said: “It is not good that all these software creatures should be alone; I will create more creatures to use the software.” And God created a firmament between the software developers and the normal creatures. And God called the developers “geeks”, and the normal creatures, “users”.
And God named the first user, User 1.0, and the second user, User 2.0. And they dwelled in the paradise that God created for them. And the Users delighted in using the software, which was perfect, and without flaws or defect or blemish, and required neither training nor documentation.
The Knowledge Application
And God spoke to the Users, saying “You may use any software you desire, but the Knowledge Application you shall not use. For on the day that you do, you will know pain.”
Now in the paradise that God created, there was the Salesperson, a creature more crafty than any other beast. The Salesperson said to User 2.0, “Did God actually say, ‘Do not run the Knowledge Application?'” And User 2.0 said, “Of all the software we may use, but from the Knowledge Application, God has said, ‘You shall not use, for then you will know pain.'”
And the crafty Salesperson said: “You will not know pain. For God knows that on the day you run the Knowledge Application, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing truth and falsehood.”
So User 2.0 and User 1.0 ran the Knowledge Application and saw that it was a delight to the mind, and that it made them wise. And the eyes of both of them were opened. And they saw that their software had a defect, so they called tech support.
And God saw that the Users had called tech support and called out, angrily, “Who told you that the software had a defect? Have you used the Knowledge Application which I commanded you not to use?” And User 1.0 said, “The User 2.0 you created gave me the Knowledge Application, and I ran it.”
Then the God said to User 2.0, “What is this you have done?” And User 2.0 said, “The Salesperson deceived me, and I ran the Knowledge Application.”
Vengeance is Mine
And God said to the Users: “Because you have partaken of the Knowledge Application, you will know pain. You shall be confounded by software and hardware, and you will know of endless bugs, and system crashes, and application instability that will drive you to madness. And you will require extensive training, support, maintenance, upgrades, and documentation so that you will be able to use the software.”
God’s Finest Creature
And God said, “Let us make one final creature, in our image.” And he created the Technical Writer and blasted the knowledge of the software into it.
And God said to the Technical Writer: “Behold, the world will come to know you as the creator and keeper of all practical knowledge. And this is a heavy burden, for you must keep the following commandments:
- You shall make the meaningless meaningful and the incomprehensible comprehensible.
- You shall provide truthful and accurate communication to all Users.
- You shall dedicate yourselves to conciseness, clarity, coherence, completeness, striving to address the needs of those whose products you document.
- You shall serve the business interests of clients and employers, as long as such loyalty does not violate the public good.
- You shall contact your clients and employers when you believe material is ambiguous.
- You shall negotiate realistic, candid agreements on schedules, budgets, and deliverables with clients and employers in the planning stage.
- You shall seek to promote the public good in your activities.
- You shall avoid conflicts of interest in the fulfillment of your professional responsibilities and activities.
- You shall seek candid evaluations of your professional performance from clients and employers, and shall provide candid evaluations of communication products and services.
- You shall advance the technical communication profession through integrity, high standards, and performance.
A Powerful Promise
And God said: “If you follow these commandments that I have given you, you shall be respected, and prosper, and be as numerous as the stars. But if you stray from these commandments, then you will know my wrath, and the world will despise you and curse you and the user manuals you create, and will never read them.
“So know this – today I set before you a choice between good and evil, between knowledge and ignorance. Choose knowledge, so that you may become wise. And if you do, it shall come to pass that the world will be in awe of you and will seek your wisdom and counsel. And clear and concise information will fill the world as the oceans and the sky. And you will be blessed and called ‘a people of the book’. And ignorance and poor documentation will cease to be…”