Thursday, January 27, 2005

Groping My Way

I ran across the following sentence in a job posting today: "The ideal candidate for this position is an editor who is eager to create a world-class documentation system that is an essential part of its associated product line, not merely a bunch of auxiliary text in which semicolons are used properly." (emphasis mine) The pretty much sums up what I've been thinking about (nay, obsessing about) for the last two weeks.

Time was, all that was required to be successful as a writer in the tech world was the ability to write credible prose, and a mildly competent interest in the technology. Customers were thrilled to encounter a writer who could actually discuss and understand the technology they were writing about. No more. Nowadays the writer who can't offer something beyond the usual is fodder for the staffing agencies.

This has always been my way of approaching documentation, I just didn't know it. Documentation is how your product talks to the customer. Eventually, every customer is going to want that conversation. Eventually, every product is going to be a conversation.


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