RE: Technical writers and multimedia?

Subject: RE: Technical writers and multimedia?
From: Matthew Horn <mhorn -at- macromedia -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 07:42:24 -0400

David asks:
>>But how much are technical writers involved in producing multimedia-based user documents?

My opinion is that mixed-media developers and technical writers should work together but are rarely the same person. The former group really must know the tools to be successful. The latter group must really know the content and audience, the tools being secondary.

If you are teaching tech writing, you might touch on the subject (say, a day or two on script writing and editing for multimedia instruction) so that your students are at least familiar with the tools and techniques that media developers have access to.

However, the subject of instructional media design is sufficiently broad and deep that you would be doing students a disservice by trying to cover it completely but still trying to teach the fundamentals of technical writing.

A couple of illustrative anecdotes.

We had a media designer who was to create training materials that would be streamed over the web. He ended up attending user conferences and doing interviews with people and trying to use our server products, but never really understood the products we developed. Chalk it up as a failure to integrate writing with media production. He now does media production for non-technical content at a university.

Another reference point, though, and this is not meant to be a plug, is the team we have that does weekly Flash movies/tutorials called "Tip of the Week" ( These are usually written and put together by a developer with little help from a design person. Obviously, this developer has many talents.

Matthew Horn
Sr. Technical Writer
< m a c r o m e d i a >


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