TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for August 17, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Adobe & Technical Communication Suite 4 | http://adobe.ly/scpwfT

Seems to be another lazy hazy summer week on the TechWhirl email discussion list, while quite the opposite is happening on the website.  That’s not to say nobody on the discussion list is talking, since there are some hardworking folks who apparently never take a vacation, but always stand ready to answer questions about which tool to use, how to make the tools work together, and ways to make that technical communication resume stand out.

The resume… it is certainly one piece of marketing content that every technical communicator has to create, no matter if they usually hold their noses when in the general vicinity of those “marketing types.” At the same time it is a piece of technical communication content:  you develop clear, cogent messaging, tailor it to meet the needs of a specific audience, and look for ways to get useful feedback to improve it.  Perhaps we should just settle on the resume being a perfect example of multi-purpose, multi-channel content.

For those hiring managers and others who look at technical writers and marketers with the same bleary-eyed confusion, Yehoshua Paul (making his debut as a TechWhirl author) provides a useful, and hilarious checklist for telling the difference between the two. And we know quite a few Whirlers who could probably add a few items to that checklist, so feel free to post a comment.

At the other end of the spectrum, technical communication folks are often challenged by legacy content scattered all over the organization.  Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) was founded by Mark Gross to handle document and data conversion challenges, and Chris Goolsby sat down with Mark to talk about those challenges, what’s changed and what’s going to happen down the line.

As always, we invite you to take a minute to vote in our weekly technical communication poll, which asks the pros how they like to take their content—and we’re not talking so much rare or well-done, as medium—or media, depending on how varied you like your content.  Since we have to create technical content in a variety of media, we thought it would be fun to find out how we prefer to consume it.  Then post a comment or head back over the email discussion list and start a new thread. Chat, vote, consume… it’s a nice way to spend a Friday.

Have a great weekend

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for August 16, 2012

Believe it or not tech writers make the list of six-figure earners. And if you’re still working towards that goal of retiring to a tropical island, take a look at what we’ve curated this week from around the web. Interesting, thoughtful, and surprising commentary on technical communication, content strategy, and user experience, all yours for the reading…. and commenting.

  How to Tell a Technical Writer From a Marketing Writer

To the world outside the cubicle farm, the differences between a typical technical writer and a typical marketing writer may be hard to determine at first glance. To people living one profession or the other, the differences are obvious. If you or your colleagues or friends have trouble telling them apart, use this handy checklist to determine whether they should be wearing the technical writer name tag or the marketing writer name tag. It might just save you hours of frustration and hurt feelings on all sides …

  Technical Communication Poll: Content Consumption Preferences

Back in the old days, when I was a student in mass communications, I recall a professor discussing the fact that everyone has an opinion about advertising. We’re all exposed to thousands of commercial messages in any given day, across every possible medium, and with all that exposure we’re bound to have an opinion or two about those messages–at least the ones that cut through the clutter. Given the prevalence of assumptions about how customers don’t read the documentation, it’s pretty likely that everyone has an opinion about technical communication content as well.

  Technical Communication, Data Conversion and the Entrepreneur’s Evolution

I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Mark Gross, co-founder and CEO of Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL), and he has proven over the last thirty years that he can definitely handle both parts of the opportunity equation. DCL specializes in data and document conversion. Taking information in one type of format and transforming it into another format. Nobody does that better than DCL, and they have been doing it longer than anybody else in the industry.

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