TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for April 14, 2012

This week’s update on technical communications and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Adobe & RoboHelp 9 |

It’s worth going back every so often and asking some basic questions about what we do, how we do it, and what it’s all for.  We here at TechWhirl subscribe to a deep belief in “42,” and we also think the concept of “re-framing the community” is fascinating, challenging, and probably somewhat controversial.  At least it should make for some really cool debates.  We’ve come along way from square dances, one-room school houses and town criers, but electronic mobility and connectedness casts both shadows and lights into the corners of our communities, and it means big changes in how we think about what we do.

Al Martine’s interview with Matt Sullivan of roundpeg, inc. and certified Adobe trainer is a good beginning to our foray into defining and re-framing community.  The tools and venues for training have changed along with many other facets of technical communications.  This week’s poll also starts taking a look at community, by asking how we as technical communicators engage in our own communities.  We can gain a lot of insight into both the tools and the channels for our professional community interactions. And because our roles often include facilitating communities of one sort or another, the conversation should also inform how we perform in that role.

Speaking of community, it’s always worth a few minutes to visit the email discussion list and see who’s talking about what.  And, if you have an interest in taking a more visible or active part in TechWhirl, the Special Writers Unit is happy welcome you into our rather laid-back but enthusiastic little community. If you have areas of expertise that you’d like to write on, are looking for some portfolio-building writing opportunities, or want to help out with editing, graphics or curation, drop Connie a note, and we’ll “onboard” you and get things going.

Enjoy the weekend!


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Technical Communications: What You’re Talking About

A quick shout out to our Technical Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • Dan Goldstein started an interesting debate on word usage, specifically on “’Allow’ vs. ‘Require’” in design documents on a development project.  After a lot of discussion on the connotations of each, and of “enable,” Dan’s going with Fred Ridder’s suggestion “allow but not require” for clarity and lack of ambiguity.  Word usage debates are always entertaining, and this one is also educational.
  • Kim Bieler is “Interviewing technical writers” and wants advice on reviewing samples, identifying red flags, and doing background research on candidates.  Not really a new question in technical communications, but it’s always interesting to see what kind recommendations come up regarding how screen the resumes, what kinds of questions to ask, whether to ask for samples in advance of an interview. Gauging a candidate’s work style, approach to problem solving, grace under pressure, and basic competence with the requirements of the job take a lot of forms, and there are plenty of interesting tips to review no matter which side of the desk you’re on.

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