How the new Kindles might affect the role of the Technical Author

Here are some initial thoughts on how the new Kindles from Amazon might affect the role of the Technical Author.

Yet more diversity in reading platforms

Technical Authors know this already – their content needs to work on lots of platforms and across different mediums. It’s more evidence that the layout must not be baked into the content; if the two are controlled separately (by using cascading style sheets to modify and adapt the layout), then we can publish to lots of different devices. Technical Authors do this today, but it’s still worth mentioning.

The distinction between video and text based information is likely to become blurred

The Kindle’s new Whispersync for Voice feature means that users can switch between reading and listening. If this extends into the narration of video, in the future, we could see users toggling between text-based content and video tutorials. With the text and the narration synchronised, the video could start from the last word the user was reading. Mozilla’s Popcorn maker project could make this possible across all tablets, not just the Kindle.

Video may be come less serial and more hypertext-like

Amazon’s X-Ray for movies enables users to navigate and explore a video by characters:

Simply tap on any scene to instantly see which actors are currently on screen, jump straight to other movies in which they star, and more.

Wouldn’t it be great if this could be applied to video-based tutorials? For example, you might stop a clip on installing a product to see which tools you need, and then navigate to the other times when you might also need to use that tool.

The time spent reading may increase

Each year, the ability to have hundreds of books on your person, ready to be read at any time, increases. What’s more, with the passive screen technology, people can read “online” material for longer.

Reading will become a more collaborative experience

The Kindle encourages users to share passages and notes on a book. In the future, it may become the norm for you to read a user manual and share your experience with other readers of the same guide.

What do you think?

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