TechWhirler Recap for July 29

This week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool.


ev·o·lu·tion noun /ˌevəˈlo͞oSHən/

The gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form or A pattern of movements or maneuvers (Webster’s Dictionary)

For today, let’s agree that evolution can mean the gradual changing of our moment. With that idea, we can evolve from child to adult, care-given to caregiver, intern to executive and child to adult. Sure there’s interesting pub conversations on evolution for the physical characteristics of animals and our poor stuck in the middle friend, the platypus, but evolution in the strictest sense really means change.

I (Al) recently received an invitation to a friend’s 60th birthday party. In it, they used the quote “For the first 30 you learn; second 30 you earn; and third 30 you return”, which really made an impact on me on a number of levels. For this platform, it can really be an interesting framework for our work and careers as they evolve from entry level, to semi-entry level, to the first manager role, mid-manager; to – if we want and have the ability – taking our place as an executive with a company.

We have to evolve. Yes, the quote falls apart with the theory that after 30 we no longer learn, when in fact, it can be argued that the entire career progression is based on learning. Whether it be small things like rephrasing “I don’t know” to “let me get back to you because I don’t have enough visibility on that area” to better understanding how to motivate employees we are evolving all the time. Yes, some people can regress and yes, we probably all have horror stories of knowing people who were great sales people but abysmal managers. Show me a person who doesn’t believe in the Peter Principle and I’ll show you a person who is either an example of it or doesn’t work in corporate.

As we’ve mentioned before, most of July’s articles are on Career Decisions and Transitions. Or, you know, your evolving career.

This week brought us two new articles. The first from Craig Cardimon entitled “Sliding Into Technical Writing” ( and our second was “This IS Your Dream Job” by Vancouver Island University’s Julie Clark ( Finally, our classic article division decided it was time to start talking about how to “Promote Yourself as a Contractor”, which was written by Bruce Byfield (

Next week we shift from careers to collaboration with our features touching Collaboration Tools, Techniques and Strategies for Better Tech Writing. However, since we’ve been having so much fun (and needed another weekend) on our portfolios article, we’re ceremoniously adopting August 1 as an honorary member of July. What about August 2? Forget-a-bout it – Aug 2 is out of the club and has to stay with the collaboration gang.

How have you evolved as a writer? Worker? Leader? Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Share your story with us in the comments.

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:

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What You’re Talking About

Quick shout outs to our Tech Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

o Matt Moore has the enviable assignment of managing his company’s “Evaluation Process – HATs” and started a popular thread on what to look for with the major players, why you should pay attention to the lesser known tools and the importance of look and feel.

o With a slight morph to the topic above, Chris Despopoulos is pondering “Modern vs Old-fashioned Help” and lots of whirlers are discussing the virtues of tripane, removing frames and refreshing CSS, and giving users what they say the want.

o Monique Semp is seekng affirmation on her feelings about list “non-parallelism – looking for the ok to let it go….” and getting responses that encourage parallelism for clarity’s sake, and consideration of the content of a list (document versus presentation) among others.

o Ruth Sessions is looking for a little TW bartering with her post on “swapping monitors?” Seems like there are quite a few folks ready to sacrifice newness for high resolution.

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

· New: “Sliding Into Technical Writing” by Craig Cardimon |

· New: ‘This IS Your Dream Job” by Julie Clarke |

· Classic: “Your Own Best Ad: Promoting Yourself as a Contractor” by Bruce Byfield |

· Poll question: Important factors when moving into contracting/freelancing|

Upcoming Events & Articles

· New: “Can You Create an NDA-Compliant Portfolio” by Connie Giordano, and “Introduction to Content Management Systems” by Jacquie Samuels

· Classic: “Getting Contractors Up to Speed Quickly” by-Micki Magyar

· Poll question: What kind of system do you use to manage technical communications content?


We want to send a very special “thank you” to sponsors. Without them, you’d be reading this on a bbs using a 14.4 modem …

Platinum: Adobe, ComponentOne, Madcap,

Gold: EC Software, Society for Technical Communication (STC)

Silver: Vancouver Island University

> Before the PR firm for the platypus contacts us, we meant no offense and did not intend to harm the platypus brand.

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