TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for January 20, 2012

Subject: TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for January 20, 2012
From: TechWhirl Admin <admin -at- techwhirl -dot- com>
To: Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 12:04:38 -0500

This week’s technical communications update is supported by Platinum
sponsor Adobe & RoboHelp 9 <> |

>From the Desk of the Editor

It seems as if we hear the phrase “technical communications is at a
crossroads,” or something similar, in a flurry of activity about once or
twice a year. Perhaps it’s the nature of the technical communications
profession to always be at some sort of crossroads, since we are the
stewards of efforts to socialize and embed the always-changing technology
within our cultures. If that’s true, we may need to start thinking of
“change agent” as one of our many monikers.

Much of the discussion on our technical writer email discussion
list<>this week focused
on two topics that highlight how much change is going on
in technical communications. To get some insight for an upcoming article
on determining how much documentation is right for a product, SWU member Ryan
Minaker <> posed an initially
untitled question to the list, and a flurry of debate on “documentation
going away” got started. So we took up the debate with a TechWhirl poll
question: If traditional documentation "goes away," what new tech comm
media will take its place?
the debate continues, it’s clear that technical writing delivery
mechanisms, and perhaps even the audiences, are evolving rapidly.

More than ever technical communications professionals focus on
demonstrating value to the businesses that employ them, which makes the
concept of integrated technical communications increasingly relevant. Anna
Parker-Richards article, Integrated Technical Communications: A Map to
Better Understanding<>,
takes on one aspect of the challenge by proposing the *ITC Mall Map* to
define what we do in a visual way, as part of the effort to brand technical
communications as a central part of business strategy. Roger
Renteria’s interview
with Corey Ganser at
us that collaborating with other business functions is the surest
way to improve customer experience and reach those business goals.

Some basics for technical communications professionals aren’t going change:
writing well, editing with a purpose, designing for clarity, evaluating for
relevance, and some will. However, the trends of modern-day business show
that while our core skills remain the same, how we apply those skills and
how we get others to perceive those skills are changing: with or without

It’s our hope that you’re on board because the ride should prove to be
challenging and ultimately fulfilling, as technical communications
professionals finally gain the right reputation and deliver even more value
for their companies and users.

- The gang at TechWhirl

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

*New on <>:*

- Building the Business Case for Technical Communicators by Leveraging
Talent, Skills and Passion, Interview with Corey Ganser, by Roger Renteria
- Integrated Technical Communications: A Map to Better Understanding, by
Anna Parker-Richards |
- TechWhirl Poll: |

*Tech Comm News:*

- Tech Writer This Week for January 19, 2012 |
- Aptara Launches PXE4.1 Publishing Platform for Technical Content|
- DITA: “Crossing the Chasm” Webinars Scheduled|
- Lattice Releases XVL Studio 10.1b for Technical Documentation |
- Maxwell Hoffman Joins Adobe Technical Communications Group |

Technical Communications: What You’re Talking About

A quick *shout out* to our Technical Writers and their discussions in our email
discussion group <>:

- Nancy Allison started a lively thread when she reported that she’s a
“Techno-fuddyduddy getting anxious.” The resulting discussion is full of
great advice, including some tips and tricks about learning and using tools
for EPUB and acquiring feedback, and some great sites for quick immersion
in the latest and greatest technology.
- Anon1 and Anon2 are both concerned about “Burnout, advancement and
career changing” issues in a field where gaining respect and dealing with
project stress is an ongoing challenge. Whirlers have responded with
experiences and advice about how to move into other careers, and in one
case, moving out and then moving back into technical communications.
- Monique Semp asked the wordsmiths on the list for opinions whether to
use the phrase “lends credibility” or “provides credibility” and got some
interesting replies that just go to show the line between technical
documentation and other forms of business communication isn’t always as
clear cut. More evidence that it pays to know your audience.

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:

- Our Google Plus Page – what’s happening behind the scenes |
- Will you be our Friend? Please, you know you want to click |
- Want all this TechWhirl goodness a few characters @ a time |
- Updates from TechWhirl delivered to your email in box |
- Or, try our RSS feed (great on Flipboard) |


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their

*Platinum A*: Adobe Systems

*Platinum B: *Madcap
ComponentOne Software<>

*Gold*: EC Software <>, Vancouver Island
University <>, Society for Technical
Communication (STC) <

Online Magazine and Discussions for Today's Tech Writer

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