Technical Writers are Communicators

The Society for Technical Communication (STC), the professional organization for technical writers, is involved in a movement to re-classify technical writers as technical communicators. A similar effort is also underway in the United Kingdom. To some technical writers, this movement is a bit contrary to their self-image as professional writers, while others welcome the change and agree that technical writers are increasingly tasked with creating technical communications in a growing variety of mediums beyond the written word.

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What is Rapid e-Learning?

There are plenty of definitions regarding Rapid e-Learning. A lot of them are variations of strange theories. But, I have only one definition:

“Rapid e-Learning is the development of learning courseware within a short timeline, which is achieved using basic templates which form a static framework and contains the learning content.”

This implies that not much time is spent on creating complex and pretty animations and interactions. There is debate aplenty in e-learning circles and many people may consider e-learning not valid unless it has a high level of interactivity, pulsing text and images and other bells and whistles, such as nonsensical games.  Anything less may be considered as boring click-and-read material. All this just adds extra time (lots of it) and extra expense.

It is easy to disguise poor instructional design with slick effects and animations.  However, a lot of this stuff  is neither necessary or effective and I believe all these repetitive flying, flashing texts and images can trigger extreme irritation.

What’s the difference between a technical communicator and a technical writer?

According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the official description, written years ago, of the technical writer’s responsibilities is the following:

“Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.”

Today, communication covers much, much more. STC members do much, much more. Their work is dynamic and interactive. The old definition isn’t nearly broad enough.

Read the original article at http://www.stc.org/story/tc_tw.asp

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The QA of Product Design

I bring this article to you courtesy of Gryphon Mountain Journals, as I think it adds enormous pertinence to what I do. You may view the original article here.

Technical Communication: The QA of Product Design

Friday, August 13th, 2010

In our ongoing department reorganization, we technical writers are experiencing some angst as we carve out a desirable place for ourselves. However, as we’ve talked about it as a community of practice (no longer as an organized team with our own manager), I think we’re coming to an agreement that now is the time to make things happen—to strike, as Tom likes to say.

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Supporting Product Demos with User Assistance

I bring this article to you courtesy of UXmatters, as I think it adds enormous pertinence to what I do. You may view the original article here.

Making the Deal: Supporting Product Demos with User Assistance

By Mike Hughes

Published: August 23, 2010

“While user assistance does have a positive impact on product acceptance and user satisfaction, it does not usually play a major role in influencing someone’s decision to buy a product.”

The Evolution Of User Manuals

I bring this article to you courtesy of Forbes.com, as I think it adds enormous pertinence to what I do. You may view the original artical here.

Aaron Fulkerson, 08.09.10, 12:00 PM EDT

Product and services documentation is now a core business asset that can drive revenues.

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Aaron Fulkerson

When people in technology hear the word “documentation” it conjures images of the ’90s, when software shipped on CDs, in boxes, with thousand-page user manuals that were costly to create and bordered on useless to the end user. The teams authoring those materials have been viewed as a cost center, and their products only minimally satiating customer demand for product documentation.

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Trends in Technical Writing

Many people would associate technical writing with the instruction guides and manuals that accompany computers, software and the various other appliances that we buy. Seldom is the field of technical writing associated with engineering and functional documentation. For example, the little folded sheet that attempts to explain how to assemble that new clip-together furniture you bought, or the documents that help you complete your tax return. Continue reading “Trends in Technical Writing”