TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for May 17, 2013

technical communication recapI love weeks like this on TechWhirl. With lots of varied, and heated threads on the email discussion list (cloud subscriptions, interactive documents, progressive disclosure and layered documents, among other interesting items), you should be able to find something to argue…err… talk about well into the weekend. And here’s the rest of the technical communication recap for May 17.

If you’d rather lurk and read than debate, we had lots to choose from on the magazine and portals as well. Ryan Minaker is getting rave reviews for his rave review of Content Strategy: Connecting the Dots Between Business, Brand, and Benefits (authored by Rahel Bailie and Noz Urbina). Jacquie Samuels offers a Getting Started guide to Topic-Based Writing, and Craig Cardimon serves up some great commentary on content strategy, tech comm, customer experience management and user experience (be sure to check out the high school tech writers and their cardboard boat) in Tech Writer This Week.  When you’re finished with those, take a few minutes to vote in the new poll, where I resurrect a classic argument—is content or structure more important? The terminology and the technology have changed, and we’re wondering if our direction should as well.  So do add your own opinion to the discussion.

So much to do and read, so little time… or so it seems when you’re doing your thing as a technical communicator. Grab some coffee, or tea, or maybe a mint julep, and relax with all the tech comm goodness you can handle.

Have a great weekend!

-Connie and the gang at TechWhirl

 Tech Writer This Week

Tech Writer This Week for May 16, 2013

In my job as a technical writer, one of the decisions I wrestle with every day concerns topic length. Is the topic short enough to retain readers but long enough to cover the material? If the topic is too short, should I merge it with another? If the topic is too long, should I break it into two topics? This is a lot of what I think about. So does Tom Johnson (I’d Rather Be Writing). Tech Writer This Week gives you other stuff to think about: research, content strategy, taxonomy, customer journey maps, UX, CXM, and cardboard boats… huh?


Getting Started with Topic-Based Writing

Think for a minute about how you would like to see your writing described by a critic (say for the New York Times): sensible, understandable, logical, resonating, compelling, interesting…topical? Writing content that works for your readers, especially when it covers something technical and complex, doesn’t just happen. It takes some thought and planning to structure it, both to be usable and relevant to the reader, and to be reusable and effective for your organization. Enter: Topic-based writing.

 compelling content or robust structure more important

Technical Communication Poll: Is Compelling Content or Robust Structure More Important?

Technical communicators are, and probably always have been, a passionate bunch willing to debate the merits of their favorite points of view with anyone who has access to a keyboard and a connection. And at least as far back as the turn of the century, one of those classic debates has turned on content versus structure. Back then it was “Structure vs. Substance.” It’s also been technical versus writer. You could even argue that it’s about logic versus intuition. Today, we ask the question as our weekly tech comm poll: is compelling content or robust structure more important?

 review content strategy connecting the dots

Book Review: Content Strategy – Connecting the Dots for an Epic Win

I have a habit of relating most things in my life to video games and board games (some people call this gamification). I find that this way of thinking is especially relevant on a professional level. My quest—as someone who produces and manages content within a content lifecycle—is to overcome obstacles, to complete these tasks, and to achieve my epic win. Content Strategy: Connecting the Dots is the strategy guide that gets me closer to the epic win.

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