A disturbing conversation about documentation

From: Gary Hildebrand <ghldbrd_at_ccp.com>
Date: Wed Apr 12 15:22:46 2000

Hello Sean

On 12-Apr-00, you wrote:

> While not exactly on topic for this list, it does have some relavance I
> think. I just got done talking with a friend about the lack of
> documentation in this industry. I mentioned the arguments I thought for
> the ``our competition will steal our ideas'' or ``our hardware/software is
> so bad we don't want anyone to know about it.''
> My friend had another reason: companies are afraid to release
> documentation because most of it is inaccurate, incomplete, confusing, or
> just doesn't exist within the company. Or their products use third party
> vendor parts that themselves, are not documented or require thick layers
> NDAs to even see (``I work here and I was told to get a copy of our
> procedures.'' ``Are you a manager?'' ``No. I'm an engineer.'' ``Then
> sorry, but you are not allowed to see our business procedures.'' ``But I
> work here!'' ``I'm sorry, but they're proprietary, and with proper
> management approval, you can't have them.'' ``But I was told I have to
> follow them!'' ``Yes, you do.'' ``But what are they?'' ``I'm sorry, but
> that's proprietary information.'')
> My friend even went on to relate a story that happened within his
> FRIEND: Yes, I'd like to use our XYZ chip.
> COW-ORKER: I'm sorry, but the engineer responsible for the XYZ chip
> died last year and no one knows how it works or even how to
> make it anymore.
> FRIEND: There was no documentation?
> COW-ORKER: Hahahahahahaha! You haven't worked here that long, have
> you?
> -spc (We're doomed! We're doomed I say!)
Doesn't this remind us of a comic strip named Dilbert?? Happens everywhere
these days . . . .

Gary Hildebrand
Received on Wed Apr 12 2000 - 15:22:46 BST

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