Category Archives: Technical Communication

Posts related to technical communication

Chatbots are not the future of Technical Communication

And suddenly every tech comm and content strategy conference seems to be about getting your content ready for chatbots. Makes sense if you are a conference organizer. Chatbots are sexy and sex sells, even if the definition of sexy is a grey box with a speaker sitting on the counter. But chatbots are not the… Read More »

The incomplete bridge

In the Top Gear Patagonia Special, the presenters come upon an incomplete bridge and have to construct a ramp to get their cars across. This is a great metaphor for technical communication, and, indeed, communication of all kinds: the incomplete bridge. Technical communication is often described as a bridge between the expert and the user.… Read More »

Designing for Feedback

We were discussing the biggest challenges in Tech Comm at the last STC Toronto brunch and we all seemed to agree that the difficulty getting feedback on the effectiveness of the content we create is the biggest challenge. The things that really matter in technical communication is whether users can achieve their goals after finding… Read More »

Affordances are relative

Affordances, those features of a product that help you figure out how to use it, are relative. Most of the busses in the Kitchener-Waterloo region have rear doors that open when you wave your hand in front of them. The one I took downtown this morning must have been an older model because it just had… Read More »

Can Content be Engineered; Can Writers be Certified?

tl;dr: We can apply engineering methods to content development, but we do not have the body of proven algorithms or known-good data to justify formal certification of communication professionals the way we have for doctors and engineers. We talk about content engineering. I call myself a content engineer sometimes. But can content really be engineered? Is… Read More »

What is an “Expert Writer”?

“Hire Expert Writers,” Says Google That is the title of a post from M2Bespoke about Google’s emphasis on returning reputable content. What is an “expert writer” in this context? Many of those who have commented on it and passed it around take it to mean expertise in writing. That seems to be the interpretation that… Read More »

Is There a Reproducible Method for Explanation?

In a recent LinkedIn discussion on “Most important competencies for technical writers,” I commented that the most important skill for technical writers was explanation, and that the ability to write and the ability to explain are not the same thing, and that the ability to explain is significantly less common that the ability to write… Read More »