Sinopsis

A technical writing podcast about the latest trends and practices in the field of technical communication. Technical communication includes topics like technical writing (software help), information architecture, usability, API documentation, information design, web design, illustration, DITA, structured authoring, visual communication, and more. If youre a technical writer or interested in technical writing, this is the one of few podcasts in this niche. I also have a blog at http://idratherbewriting.com where the podcasts and other blog topics are published.

Episodios

  • How to become a 10X technical writer in the workplace

    How to become a 10X technical writer in the workplace

    07/02/2019 Duración: 23min

    How do you become a 10X technical writer in the workplace (10X means 10 times more efficient and productive than others)? In this post, I raise the question and then offer a few tips I try to follow: (1) Record your meetings with engineers, (2) Respond quickly to emails and messages, (3) Iterate on content with ever-expanding layers of reviewers, (4) Put some work back on those who request it, and (5) Learn to say no so you can focus on fewer projects with deeper engagement.

  • How to motivate users to provide feedback: Show that youre listening to their input

    How to motivate users to provide feedback: Show that you're listening to their input

    01/02/2019 Duración: 09min

    To encourage users to leave more feedback, add a contact email field on your feedback submission form. When you receive feedback, provide a quick response that shows you're listening and taking action on their input.

  • Site analytics from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2018 -- are more engineers writing docs now?

    Site analytics from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2018 -- are more engineers writing docs now?

    14/01/2019 Duración: 33min

    Every year, when I re-examine my site analytics, I take the time to reflect on trends I’m seeing with traffic to my own site. Not necessarily industry trends, just trends about which topics are popular on my site. Based on these trends, I assess and re-evaluate some of my directions. This year, I found that the increase in traffic on my API documentation site (which accounts for 59% of my overall site traffic) suggests that more engineers are writing docs. This confirms my earlier predictions at the beginning of 2018 that specialization will drive more engineers to write API documentation, with technical writers playing more supporting editorial and publishing roles.

  • Recording for Menlo Park API documentation workshop now available -- and some thoughts on using cardioid versus omnidirectional microphones for recording

    Recording for Menlo Park API documentation workshop now available -- and some thoughts on using cardioid versus omnidirectional microphones for recording

    04/12/2018 Duración: 11min

    The recording for the full-day API workshop that I recently gave in Menlo Park, California, is now available. This recording provides more than 5 hours of instruction about writing API docs -- for free. I also share some thoughts on cardioid versus omnidirectional microphones, and which is better in a workshop setting. The audio narration of this post switches around the microphones so you can hear the difference.

  • New post in Simplifying Complexity series -- Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist at the same time

    New post in Simplifying Complexity series -- Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist at the same time

    30/11/2018 Duración: 01h02min

    In my Simplifying Complexity series, I added a new post called, Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist at the same time. I also recorded this essay as a narrated podcast.

  • How to avoid being a secretary for engineers

    How to avoid being a secretary for engineers

    19/11/2018 Duración: 27min

    If we just see our task as documenting solutions that engineers have solved, it removes the creativity and critical thinking dimension from tech comm. The creative dimension in tech comm comes into play as we identify and solve tech comm challenges, such as devising ways to simplify complexity or otherwise improve the user experience.

  • Id Rather Be Writing is now an Alexa Flash Briefing skill

    I'd Rather Be Writing is now an Alexa Flash Briefing skill

    05/11/2018 Duración: 08min

    Now you can listen to the latest narrated post on I'd Rather Be Writing as an Alexa Flash Briefing skill. This means you can listen to my audio content through your Echo device.

  • Upcoming full-day API documentation workshop in Menlo Park

    Upcoming full-day API documentation workshop in Menlo Park

    31/10/2018 Duración: 01min

    I'm giving a full-day API documentation workshop on Nov 8, 2018, in Menlo Park, California, in coordination with Scott Abel (aka, The Content Wrangler). There are still a few open spots left in the workshop.

  • Preferring technical acuity over specialized knowledge

    Preferring technical acuity over specialized knowledge

    24/10/2018 Duración: 13min

    In the debate between being a specialist or generalist, there's also a third option: developing technical acuity. A person with a high degree of technical acuity has the technical mindset needed to understand and solve problems across a variety of technical domains. Given the ever growing number of technologies, developing technical acuity can be more advantageous, especially in technical writing contexts since technical writers work with a lot of different technologies.

  • If writing is no longer a marketable skill, what is?

    If writing is no longer a marketable skill, what is?

    09/08/2018 Duración: 25min

    When we try to sell our tech comm skills, promoting our writing skills doesn't seem to impress people anymore, as writing is considered more of a presumed skill everyone has. To give a sense of value, we need to hyphenate our job titles, becoming more of a hybrid professional.

  • My conflicted thoughts about the decentralized web (while taking the Census of Technical Communicators survey)

    My conflicted thoughts about the decentralized web (while taking the Census of Technical Communicators survey)

    06/08/2018 Duración: 24min

    Seeing my name in the Census of Technical Communicators survey as a possible source for professional development made me think about the impact of blogs as a learning resource. Advertising encourages bloggers to create rapid-fire, lightweight content in order to increase page views and other attention on the advertised product or service. The proliferation of blog content turns the wheels of social media, creating micro-bursts of attention for companies. The negative impact, however, is that more traditional forms of learning, such as scholarly journal articles and books, take a hit. The web's architecture and monetization model around content is optimized for blog content, so unless other mediums can find a way to become more visible and engaging within the architecture of the web, they will continue their slide into invisibility (at least to mainstream users).

  • Articulating stories that influence product adoption (new article in Simplifying Complexity series)

    Articulating stories that influence product adoption (new article in Simplifying Complexity series)

    31/07/2018 Duración: 43min

    I added a new article in my ongoing series about simplifying complexity. The article is called Articulating the invisible stories that influence product adoption or rejection and explores why adoption of our products among users doesn't often live up to our expectations. I argue that we need to articulate the story we're telling about the product as well as the story users tell, and identify whether the two are in alignment. Note that you can both read and listen to this article, since I created an audio recording for it.

  • Reducing the complexity of technical language (new article in Simplifying Complexity series)

    Reducing the complexity of technical language (new article in Simplifying Complexity series)

    11/07/2018 Duración: 43min

    I added a new article in my ongoing series about simplifying complexity. The article is called Reducing the complexity of technical language and explores reasons why the language in technical documentation tends become so full of jargon and other unfamiliar terms, and a few solutions for simplifying the language. I emphasize the need to read the competitor's documentation and other articles in the industry to get a sense of the right terms and contexts that users likely expect. I also decided to read the article for those who prefer podcasts.

  • The relationship between academics and practitioners -- Podcast with Kirk St. Amant

    The relationship between academics and practitioners -- Podcast with Kirk St. Amant

    11/07/2018 Duración: 56min

    In this podcast, I chat with Professor Kirk St. Amant about the relationship between practitioners and academics. Kirk recently co-authored an article about research as a unifying focus to bring academics and practitioners together. Using this article as the basis for discussion, we dive into origins of the divide, why both practitioners and academics of the same field need each other, potential solutions, and more.

  • Evaluating the user experience of documentation -- Podcast with Bob Watson

    Evaluating the user experience of documentation -- Podcast with Bob Watson

    18/06/2018 Duración: 58min

    This week I chatted with Bob Watson, an assistant professor of tech comm at Mercer University, about how to evaluate the user experience of documentation. The idea of doing a podcast came up during a comment thread on a previous post about reconstructing the absent user. We had a long exchange in the comment threads and thought it would be good to have a podcast about the topic.

  • Recording of API documentation workshop in Denver

    Recording of API documentation workshop in Denver

    12/03/2018 Duración: 03h51min

    I recently gave a half-day API workshop in Denver on March 10, 2018. Topics in the workshop included how to document reference API content (endpoints, parameters, requests, etc.), what non-reference topics (for example, status and error codes, rate limiting, getting started, sample apps) are common, how to create an OpenAPI specification document and Swagger UI output, and more. You can view a recording of the workshop, browse the slides, and listen to the audio here. Because of the length, the content is divided into three parts.

  • Recording of STC San Francisco presentation: Beyond mere endpoint reference — the overlooked content in API documentation

    Recording of STC San Francisco presentation: Beyond mere endpoint reference — the overlooked content in API documentation

    08/03/2018 Duración: 59min

    I recently gave a presentation to the STC San Francisco chapter called "Beyond mere endpoint reference — the overlooked content in API documentation" on February 21, 2018. You can browse the slides and listen to the audio recording here.

  • Recording of OpenAPI and Swagger presentation (for STC and WTD San Diego)

    Recording of OpenAPI and Swagger presentation (for STC and WTD San Diego)

    14/02/2018 Duración: 01h01min

    I recently gave a presentation to the STC San Diego chapter and WTD San Diego group called "Swagger UI and the OpenAPI specification" (February 13, 2018). You can view a recording of the presentation, browse the slides, and listen to the audio here.

  • Recording of WTD South Bay presentation: Publishing tools for API documentation

    Recording of WTD South Bay presentation: Publishing tools for API documentation

    19/01/2018 Duración: 01h05min

    I recently gave a presentation called "Publishing tools for API documentation" to the Write the Docs South Bay meetup group on January 18, 2018. You can view a recording of the presentation, browse the slides, and listen to the audio here.

  • How to become a voracious reader

    How to become a voracious reader

    01/12/2017 Duración: 06min

    Voracious reading begins with voracious thinking. Asking questions gives us a purpose and drive for reading.

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