In this podcast, we look at the job of a Technical Author/Technical Communicator, and how you can start your career.
Yesterday we released our latest elearning training course – single sourcing and content reuse.
This online training course teaches the basic skills in single sourcing and writing content for reuse. The ten learning modules in this course contain videos of the trainer with supporting slides and images. The course includes exercises for the delegates to complete and review.
Editor’s Note: Introducing a new guest blogger to Cherryleaf’s blog: Dr. Tony Self of HyperWrite.
Where are all the technical writers?
I have often wondered why there are so few technical writers in the world.
In my country, Australia, the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates there are over 2,000 technical writers within the total workforce of 11.65 million people. The Australian Government groups technical writers into a category called “Journalists and Other Writers”. That category of writer has shown little growth over the last decade, and in 2011 represented just 21,400 people.
In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there were about 50,000 American technical writers in 2010.
We are living in the information age, yet the numbers of technical writers in countries like Australia and the US are not skyrocketing. Why not? Continue reading “Where are all the technical writers?”
Do let us know if you’d be interested in us scheduling another public course for our Trends in Technical Communication – Advanced technical writing techniques course. We need just a couple more people for us to schedule a course date for June. Do let us know if you’d be interested in attending this course.
Interested in an online version of the course?
For writers based outside of the UK, we’re also considering offering this course in a “live and online” format over the Web. Using Google+ Hangouts, the course would be spread over a number of days, rather than delivered as a full day’s worth of training. The price of the course would be the same. The first course would be limited to just 5 or 6 delegates. Do let us know if you’d be interested in attending this course.
About the course
In this course, you’ll find out how Technical Authors in leading companies are now applying techniques from other disciplines (such as psychology, copywriting, usability and elearning) into the information they create.
Using examples of Help pages from a number of applications (including from vendors such as Apple, Facebook, Google, HTC and Mozilla), you’ll learn how to spot where these techniques have been used, and you’ll have the opportunity to practise these in the workshop.
Yesterday, we launched our online Technical Writer induction course.
This online course covers the technical documentation process and the skills you need in order to be a successful Technical Writer or Technical Author. Created by the authors of the popular “How to Write Instructions” book, this 14 module course explains the technical communicator’s role in today’s environment.
For more details, see our Technical author induction training course Web page or go to www.technicalwritercourse.com.
Cherryleaf has skills in developing and creating content for Confluence based systems, and we’re developing our skills in this area for Mindtouch Technical Communications Suite as well.
We’re available to work on your project. Contact us if you’d like to know more.
Internet Psychologist Graham Jones wrote an article last week, in which he stated, search is dying, and is being replaced by sharing information socially.
“So worried is Microsoft about Google that they haven’t realised that Google is not their real competition any more. It is the likes of Twitter and Ecademy…Google already knows this. Much of their labs work and their adaptations of what they already offer are geared to sharing information socially. They realise that search as we know it is dying. Microsoft is so focused on fighting Google, they haven’t realised they are on the wrong battlefield.”
Let’s assume Graham is correct. Where does this leave online user assistance?
Since Online Help was introduced, technical communicators have provided hypertext links, key word search and an index to help users find information.
Today, there is greater emphasis on key word search (finding stuff via Google), and we’ve seen a few authors add tag clouds too.
So how could online user assistance (“Help”) be shared socially? Is it likely that someone will respond to each question by tweeting a link to a particular page in a Help file?
That’s incredibly labour-intensive. For Support teams to answer queries via Twitter might be less time-intensive than responding to emails, but it may be difficult to provide an answer within 140 characters. Most likely, they could provide to links to places where the question is answered.
We’ve talked about the emergence of “landing pages” in Web based Help (so have Michael Hughes and Matthew Ellison), and that may be a less intensive way to guide people to the information they need. By this I mean, point people towards say 6 landing pages, from which they can be guided quickly to the information they need.
It may also be difficult for users to pose their questions within the limitations of Twitter.
A more likely scenario, I believe, would be to create Twitter avatars. The fictional characters from “Mad Men” post regular tweets about their imaginary lives. If Don Draper and Peggy Olsen can tweet, then why not create a personas for your customers and let them do the same? Billy the Beginner and Patty the Power user, for example? Their posts could guide customers through the key tasks via a series of daily Twitter posts.
Of course, this is more than about how to best use Twitter. It’s about social networks, the ideas from the Cluetrain Manifesto and Web 2.0 ideas of syndicating content, collaborating with your user base and aggregating content.
Graham Jones concluded by saying “just concentrate on providing and sharing good material”. Technical Authors can help the organisation provide good material. What we may all have to work out is how we can share this material in more effective ways.
We’ve had a number of new vacancies for technical authors come in within the last few days – in the UK and mainland Europe. You can see them on our Technical Author Vacancies page.