One feature of Web 2.0 is the idea of the “right to remix”. This means giving people the ability to remix your information and services.
This could impact the documentation department in two ways:
1. Your organisation decides to allow others to remix and “mashup” its application or service. As part of this, the documentation needs to available to third parties to help support their (and now your) users.
2. Your organisation develops software as it has always done, but you still want to enable others to modify and remix your documentation.
So what would be the implications of giving others the right to change and republish your user documents? A few questions spring to mind:
– If your document were to be combined with other information (say training material from a third party) would users have a better product?
– How do you ensure all the safety information and legal disclaimers and retained and referenced in the right places?
– Can the document be remixed? Does it need to be modularised?
– Would/could somebody do a better job at presenting the user information than you?
– What would the impact be on support call reduction and product perception?
– Would they add or remove information?
This is an area where some technical authors and documentation managers will need to establish a policy in the future. If you want to encourage remixing, you’ll probably need to amend your license and copyright agreements to enable people to do this legally. You’ll also need to establish some publishing rules and standards too.