Darren Barefoot’s Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness has been updated with a bunch of new stuff, including this bit of horrorshow: Bell System Practices, Section 770-130-301: Sweeping Instructions, titled “Sweeping, General.”
Every once in a while I get a call from a recruiter or see a post on a job board wanting someone to document IT procedures and best practices. IT procedures and best practices looks a lot like “Sweeping, General.” I think that when I die and go to hell I will be documenting procedures and best practices. I’ll be writing this stuff for ever and ever and ever.
Actually come to think of it I just realized that there is something more horrible than having to write a best practices manual for sweeping the floor. And that is that at Bell there were probably cross-group meetings to determine what the standard for sweeping the floor actually IS. There was probably a month-long argument over whether the recommendation should be for a 14 qt pail or a 10qt pail. And its noted that Sweeping, General was revised to include a section on stairway sweeping — I’ll bet it was of deep concern to some VP somewhere that the standard for sweeping did not refer to stairways, and thus a revision of this document was needed ASAP. No email in 1952; this would have required telephone calls and actual face-to-face meetings. It probably required the better part of a year to produce.
I feel sick.