On Being a Tech Writer

In America, The Job has become all-important. If you don’t have a job, you are a nobody – and no one wants to be that.

I had many jobs (because the companies I worked for, kept going of business). I made this part of my identity “I’m in-between jobs right now.” Which was totally true, and made people feel better about me – I was alright, because I took my jobs seriously – or at least seemed to.

I cleaned up my resume, to make it look like I worked for fewer companies. This did not reflect the reality of the situation – but that is what people wanted. A reality that was better than the real one. One that overlooked the instability of the job market – that overlooked the instability of the companies themselves.

Tech writers make the world look better than it is. That’s what their job is.

At one point, I decided I wanted to do Technical Documentation – to make the company aware of the clever tools it had in reserve, to make more products. I was fired, instead.

And the company went out of business.

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What It Is Actually Like to Be in the Engine Room of the Start-Up Economy

NY Times

Here are some choice quotes:

I was wholly devoid of most human boundaries or morality,” he notes in passing. In other words, he was a start-up chief executive.

García Martínez shows how a start-up is less about making a product that actually does something than desperately demonstrating you are worthy of being hired by Google, Twitter or Facebook. He describes the way the big companies resemble life in Cuba or Communist China circa 1965, with “endless toil motivated by lapidary ideals handed down by a revered and unquestioned leader,” not to mention the posters on the wall proclaiming, “Proceed and Be Bold!” This is a place, he points out, where people take their laptops into a toilet stall and keep typing as they do what they came to do. If that strikes you as unseemly or unnecessary, you’ll never make it in Palo Alto.

García Martínez’s big break was hyping his way into Y Combinator, in effect the valley’s finishing school for innovators. He labels the YC entrepreneur profile as “bomb-throwing anarchist subversive mixed with coldblooded execution mixed with irreverent whimsy, a sort of ­technology-enabled 12-year-old boy.” He fit right in.

I never made it in Silicon Valley – and you can probably see why.