RE: Trends in Tech Comm

Subject: RE: Trends in Tech Comm
From: "Steve Janoff (non-Celgene)" <sjanoff -at- celgene -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2012 22:26:09 -0800

I agree with what you say, and at the same time I feel that there is an added dimension that is, over time, being drained out of documentation, which is the writer's personality. In an era where consistency is a major goal, that may be fine.

And yet, for me, it's a special occasion when I read something that's not only usable but also compelling. This gets into the "user experience" of documentation. It's more than just, "I got the information I needed." It's more like, "Wow, that was really well done!" Maybe it's just one writer appreciating the work of another.

But I hate to see the "writer" taken out of the technical writer, is all I'm saying.

A while back there was a thread on good tech writing of old, and I remember the book by John Muir was mentioned, on "Keeping Your Volkswagen Alive." I never read it, merely perused it, but I know what a classic it was. You can't write that kind of work anymore, at least not as a tech writer -- and maybe you never could, unless you went to the after market.

But I feel that a writer's personality can still be maintained even with the automated writing tools of today. It's the difference between good documentation and great documentation. "Good" is good enough, but I really like "great." I especially like reading it, even if I can't write it.

Maybe I'm just lamenting the loss of individualism that comes with standardization. Or, it could depend on how you come into tech writing: as a writer, a journalist, a scientist, a researcher, etc. On that basis, the loss of the writer's individualism is a very personal thing.

Steve

-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Chung [mailto:tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca]
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 9:12 PM
To: Steve Janoff (non-Celgene)
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Trends in Tech Comm

I think the core skill of researching products to discuss at a higher
level than the individual developer will still prevai. The only
difference is the number of ways we write the sentence.

Technical Writing has less to do with eloquence and everything to do
with relevance. We need to provide information of value to the end
user for the task at hand. If I, as a tech writer, cannot envision (or
be convinced of) how a potential end user will use our product, then I
won't be able to do a good job of placing the reader into the product.

While we spend some time writing definitions, the end goal is to be
sure someone knows how to put those definitions to use.

So, while the technical skill will be needed (which is where I spend
the bulk of my time), there also needs to be that raw journalistic
instinct of getting to the bottom of he story.

The DITA Open Tool Kit never supposes to do that.

-Tony

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Trends in Tech Comm: From: Steve Janoff (non-Celgene)
RE: Trends in Tech Comm: From: Steve Janoff (non-Celgene)
Re: Trends in Tech Comm: From: Tony Chung

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