Times have changed. In fact, less and less often do consumers even seek out content by actually going to a given site.
To paraphrase Jeff Jarvis, if something is important, it will find me, be it via newsletter, Facebook, Twitter or a shared link in an email…
The context – Facebook, Twitter, email – in which people are introduced to media and consume it is becoming more important than the content itself. Content is no longer king, context is…
This is why you need both lots of content and a diversity of it.
Karbasfrooshan is talking about videos, but will the same be said about user assistance?
Today, we assume users will seek out Help and other forms of technical documentation, but will that change? Will technical communicators need to disseminate their content via an increasing number of channels?
Visualisation Magazine has created a diagram showing how you can use Web 2.0 tools to increase the number of readers of your content – “building an online presence”. It shows the extent to which content can be republished today, through free sites, Web feeds and embedded content. It also shows how you can monitor and receive statistical information on its progress.
So why keep your content tucked away in a Help file, when it can be republished in some many other places as well?
At a rough guess, there no more than 20 UK technical authors using Twitter on a regular basis. Given the Social Web is going to play an increasing role in User Assistance and Customer Support, that’s a surprise.
What’s stopping them, I wonder?
It may be they don’t understand how to use Twitter, they might not have the time or they may not be convinced of the value of using Twitter. As I said, it’s a surprise.
I wonder if the BBC’s Technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, is regretting posting an article in August called “Read the manual? Never!” . In it, he said:
It may be sad that we no longer seem to have that thirst for knowledge about how things work. But I’m afraid I’m just not going to start reading the manual.
I say this, because in his recent Blog post about Google Wave, he complained about the lack of user guides for the application:
We saw a lot of bugs that still need fixing, and no very clear guide as to how to do so.
Rory’s experiences with Google Wave – unfamiliar concepts, uncertainty between features and bugs, unfamiliar tasks – illustrate why it’s not always possible to do away with the need for user documentation and user assistance.
To his credit, when I pointed this inconsistency out to Rory, via Twitter, he said “it’s a fair cop!!!”.
Originally delivered as a presentation for the prestigious User Assistance Europe Conference 2009, it has been extended and converted into a training course, containing videos and demonstrations of software applications, to help it all make sense.
You also get access to the full 37 minute, transatlantic video interview we recently conducted with Anne Gentle, author of “Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation”, where we talked about The Social Web for Documentation.