Re: Trends for Technical Communicators?

Subject: Re: Trends for Technical Communicators?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 13:54:32 -0800

At 05:02 PM 3/1/96 -0600, Binion Amerson wrote:
>What trends do you consider affect you today as a Technical Communicator?

I can only speak for the software industry, and what I see is...

Tighter integration of the software and the information -- it is
no longer possible to separate the documentation from the program.
Status line and toolbar help, context sensitive online help, and
error messages all communicate information about the program long
before the user turns toward the paper documentation. In many cases,
paper documentation is not provided at all. This has led to a marked
change in writing style -- writing smaller, discrete chunks of
information -- not relying on the sequence in which information
is provided -- eliminating the transitional text between one
discussion and another.

Coupled with this is an increase in the importance of visual
literacy. A technical writer must be able to contribute to/
enhance the visual metaphore of the product and to format
information so that it is easily identifyable and accessible.

I've heard these trends summarized as a clouding of the
distinction between the information developer and the code
developer, but I'm not sure I agree witht that. I think of it
more as a shift in the areas of responsibility. Where once the
information developer was only concerned with the paper and the
code developer ruled over everything that went online, the code
developer is now more likely concerned with the back-end -- making
the product function -- and the information developer is concerned
with the front-end -- the user interface -- making the product
communicate with the user.

Just my $.02
-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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