Evolution of technical writing (was Re: Training)

Subject: Evolution of technical writing (was Re: Training)
From: Steven Brown <stevenabrown -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 10:11:53 -0700 (PDT)

Great article, Keri. After a quick read-through, I
can't help but wonder how the idea of "communities of
learning" might be applied to technical documentation.

I toured a customer service phone center yesterday,
and I was eager to see the manuals and other resources
that the reps use to answer customer questions.
Imagine my horror when I learned that they don't have
a traditional documentation set; instead, they all
contribute to and draw information from a massive
Access database. The database is overseen by one or
two people who edit the content and otherwise maintain

Now imagine if a public database existed which their
customers could use. It might function similar to
Adobe's user forums or E-Help's RoboHelp Community.
Anyone submits ideas, tips, and suggestions, while the
content is moderated by a "technical writer" (or
whatever job title we wish to assign) who ensures that
content is accurate, timely, appropriate, and well

Two benefits emerge:

1. The documentation and training departments learn
about so-called best practices or workarounds that can
be incorporated into formal documentation (if it
exists) and training collateral.

2. Marketing hears first-hand what customers are
talking about. There's sure to be some product
bashing, but at least the company hears it so that the
product can be improved.

This kind of information delivery could change the
nature of our jobs as technical writers, but is it
reasonable to expect our industry to be the same 5,
10, or 20 years from now? That's not to say that books
or online help will cease to exist, but surely there
are other ways to deliver information.

Steven Brown
Technical Writer

--- Keri Morgret <morgret -at- stanfordalumni -dot- org> provided
this link:


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Training (was RE: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site): From: Keri Morgret

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