Tuesday, August 17, 2010

mass innovation night -- foodie theme

Whoa, I'm behind on posting about Mass Innovation Night number 17. I've been so busy spreading the word about online ordering and catnip greeting cards and Cooking for Geeks, that I've neglected this blog. I've also been wracking my brains for a way to connect the food theme of #MIN17 with technical writing. Except for the idea that technical writers are now essentially the same as cupcakes (stay tuned for a future entry on tech writer as cupcake) and that my favorite take away from the night was a cookbook, I'm stuck for a profound professional connection.

So, here are my favorites of the night:

First thing Thursday morning:

  • Told the owner of my local coffee shop about 1fastbite.
  • Notified my former colleagues that online ordering from BHB, their favorite takeout, is available through 1fastbite.
  • Sent emails to connect Catnip Cards with Merrimack River Feline Rescue where I used to be on the board.
  • Sat down with my new signed copy of Cooking for Geeks and read up on the science of some of the things I like to cook.
In other news somewhat related to Mass Innovation Nights, when I went up to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, I noticed that an electric bike company has already implemented the idea I had after July's innovation night: electric bike rental at off-refuge parking location.

Readers, chime in on the comments section to let me know how technical writing and foodie innovation are related.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

on audience

Coming across a Dr. Dobbs article with the headline Technical Writing for the Kindle and a Scriptorium blog post Retail therapy for tech comm (and I don’t mean shopping) during my browsing adventures in search of the magical convergence between technical communication and social media led me to a revealing insight into the current technical communication scene. We seem to be expending a lot more time and energy discussing tools and output formats than we do discussing and researching the changes in audience needs.

The audience for most technical communication has changed radically in the last decade. There are far more different types of users with different needs. Fewer readers have English as their first language. The Millennials have a shorter attention span than that of other user age cohorts. Software development processes are more collaborative. All of these things affect what content we need to present to the reader and how we present it.

We as technical communications professionals need to be thinking about writing for the reader, not just writing for the output device.