I'd Rather Be Writing Podcast Feed

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Sinopse

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.

Episódios

  • Are technical writers increasingly playing non-technical roles? Some thoughts on the evolution of technical writing roles

    Are technical writers increasingly playing non-technical roles? Some thoughts on the evolution of technical writing roles

    30/03/2020 Duração: 26min

    How is the role of the technical writer evolving? It seems we're moving away from writing and more towards other roles, such as reviewer/convener, user champion, editor, publisher, and promoter. However, it's difficult to gauge change, especially across different job categories. In some scenarios, writing might never have been why we were hired.

  • Podcast: Users as producers of knowledge mdash conversation with Nupoor Ranade about how tech writer roles are changing

    Podcast: Users as producers of knowledge — conversation with Nupoor Ranade about how tech writer roles are changing

    29/03/2020 Duração: 50min

    How can users shape and influence the documentation you're producing? In this podcast, I chat with Nupoor Ranade, PhD candidate at North Carolina State University, about how the roles of technical writers are changing. Instead of writers authoring content for passive users, users are actively directing and shaping the knowledge that writers produce. In this podcast, we look at ways docs-as-code workflows are facilitating that shift in roles. This podcast is more of a conversation, where I first ask Nupoor a series of questions, and then she asks me questions. There's also a transcript of the podcast.

  • Webinar recording: How Trends in API Documentation Differ from other Tech Comm Trends

    Webinar recording: How Trends in API Documentation Differ from other Tech Comm Trends

    12/03/2020 Duração: 59min

    I recently gave a webinar on trends in developer docs to the STC Washington DC chapter on March 12, 2020. In this presentation, I presented the results and analysis of my Trends in Developer Documentation 2020 survey. A recording and audio file is available below.

  • Introduction to API documentation - Recording from Los Angeles API documentation workshop

    Introduction to API documentation - Recording from Los Angeles API documentation workshop

    11/03/2020 Duração: 01h28min

    In January I gave an API documentation workshop in Los Angeles, and I recorded the first section of the workshop. This section provides an introduction to APIs, including an overview of APIs, the API doc market, info about API popularity, how to submit requests through Postman, and other trends. The recording is available as both a video/audio or standalone audio.

  • Podcast: How Paligo is filling a niche in the CCMS market for complex documentation, with Anders Svensson

    Podcast: How Paligo is filling a niche in the CCMS market for complex documentation, with Anders Svensson

    09/03/2020 Duração: 51min

    I recently chatted with Anders Svensson about how Paligo, a cloud-based CCMS, is filling a niche in the CCMS market for complex documentation needs. Complex documentation refers to documentation with multiple product variants, versions, languages, audiences, and more. In these scenarios, content re-use and scalability become more challenging. Paligo is filling a need for documentation teams that have grown beyond their help authoring tools and need the more robust support that a component content management system (CCMS) offers but without the price tag and implementation timeline.

  • Podcast with Andrew Davis: Hiring API doc writers -- an inside look at fixing broken processes

    Podcast with Andrew Davis: Hiring API doc writers -- an inside look at fixing broken processes

    23/02/2020

    Podcast You can listen to the podcast here: Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. High-level summary Here are some of the topics we cover: Why some job descriptions seeking unicorn candidates are unrealistic and insincere How recruiters, sourcers, and managed service providers work against the hiring process How to avoid getting spammed on Linkedin by keyword sourcers Whether a high hiring bar actually reflects good faith efforts for hiring How to assess whether candidates are worthwhile without too much investment of time How to use Linkedin productively to evaluate candidates How candidates can get around NDAs or private docs to provide writing samples Whether desperation in the hiring team can bias judgment of candidates in the interview process Whether hosting meetups or other community events translates into better candidate applications Detailed notes Before the interview, I provided Andrew with a list of possibl

  • From API docs to developer portals

    From API docs to developer portals

    09/02/2020

    I also recorded this post as a conversational podcast (rather than a narrated one). Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Parallels with content strategy The transition from API documentation to developer portals mirrors the same transition that took place in tech comm domain from documentation to content strategy. When that transition happened, I resisted calling myself a content strategist because I felt like much of the tech writer’s role already involves making many decisions about content strategy. But it’s not always the case, and probably much less often than I assumed. The meaning of “content strategy” forked into several different connotations whether you’re in marketing, tech comm, or running an SEO business, which further complicated the direction. Regardless of parallels, in many circles related to API docs, I keep seeing an emphasis on “developer portals.” Sometimes anything that isn’t strictly “API reference documentation” is c

  • Podcast: API Design and Usability with Arnaud Lauret (API Handyman)

    Podcast: API Design and Usability with Arnaud Lauret (API Handyman)

    07/12/2019

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. The Design of Web APIs, by Arnaud Lauret Podcast topics Here are some of the API design/usability topics we chat about in the podcast: What API usability is, and how usability is the same/different with developer tools How writing documentation tests the usability of a product What tech writers should look for to know whether an API is designed well What to call each of the components in an API (e.g., whether the term “endpoint” should be used) How tech writers can influence design and usability when they’re so far downstream in the development process Best practices for creating tutorials on API doc sites Spec-first design versus auto-generating the OpenAPI from the code Which framework you would you choose to work with to render the API spec Whether we’ll eventually move into a state where manually editing the OpenAPI spec code by hand becomes antiquated The Open Map visual diagram

  • Podcast: Dealing with Project Overload -- Strategies to Manage Overflowing Documentation Tasks

    Podcast: Dealing with Project Overload -- Strategies to Manage Overflowing Documentation Tasks

    02/10/2019

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. I was reading a post on the technical writing sub-Reddit community about dealing with project overload and thought it would be a good topic for a podcast. The Reddit post is In over my head - service docs, user docs, and localization (requesting advice). In part, the topic resonated with me because I’m sort of overloaded myself right now, so I thought it would be good to think through some of these challenges. In the post, “keyboardqueen90” describes how she’s buried in work, her manager doesn’t understand what she does, others underestimate the time required to write docs, requests for more support fall on deaf ears, she doesn’t have time to ramp up on tools/tech or influence design because the docs fully occupy her time, she lacks any champion or advocate at the leadership level, she’s a team of one, and more. My podcast is short, but here’s an even shorter summary. To manage incoming work, especially w

  • Podcast: 10 myths about API documentation

    Podcast: 10 myths about API documentation

    29/09/2019

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. 10 myths about API documentation Here are the myths I address in the podcast. You must read source code to write docs. You’ll need to extrapolate sample code from one language to create code samples in another. You must be a former engineer to be competitive in the API doc space. Technical writers usually create the reference material (e.g., OpenAPI spec, Javadoc). Almost all job interviewers care about, when it comes to API doc jobs, is technical know-how. Developers can and will write if you implement a docs-as-code process. Because their role aligns with the audience, with API docs, developers are most suited to be the ones writing for other developers. API documentation and developer documentation are synonymous. Docs that look good are good. People will respect you more if the word “writer” isn’t in your job title. In the podcast, I mentioned this NY Times article: In the Salar

  • Recording of Tech Comm Trends Presentation (STC Puget Sound chapter)

    Recording of Tech Comm Trends Presentation (STC Puget Sound chapter)

    08/06/2019

    Video Audio Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Slides Presentation description Tech comm trends: Providing value as a generalist in a sea of specialists Trends in technical communication can be hard to decipher, even when looking at data. But one underlying trend is that technology seems to be getting more specialized and complex. This trend toward specialization is driving up the value of technical knowledge, making it more prized than writing skills. To handle the complexity, technical writers may find that they are playing increasingly collaborative roles with engineers to create the needed documentation. To drive up their value in organizations, technical writers should look for ways to collaborate more skillfully with engineers in creating content. Takeaways: The growing complexity in the technology landscape is ratcheting up the importance of technical knowledge in organizations, overshadowing writing skills.

  • Crash course in API documentation -- a one-hour video

    Crash course in API documentation -- a one-hour video

    16/05/2019

    I mentioned in my STC Summit slide links post that I recorded my “Intro to API documentation” presentation using the on-board mic on my laptop, and that STC let me post it on my blog. The sound in the recording isn’t great, but if you’re interested, the video is available below. Someone who recently watched the video wrote me to say, Btw, the one hour crash course was great. I just watched it. This will be my go-to-link to send people interested in the space. It’s a lot of content for a beginner, but its variety and your talking more holistically about the workflow/mindset made it a great introduction. Bravo! In this introductory presentation, I explore Sendgrid as a good example of API docs. For more API documentation recordings, see Video recordings of API doc workshops. I also rendered this video as a standalone audio file in case you prefer it this way: Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. var contents=new Array() content

  • Corporate exodus narratives: A close look at the tension between the corporation and academia

    Corporate exodus narratives: A close look at the tension between the corporation and academia

    01/03/2019

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Going to an academic conference Last year I started a project aimed at bridging the gap between practitioners and academics, and after a number of conversations with one academic, I was invited to speak at the Symposium for Communicating Complex Information, which is a small conference (held in Louisiana this year) that consists almost entirely of academics. I’m always intrigued at opportunities to attend conferences I’ve never been to before, especially to interact with people I’m not accustomed to interacting with, so I thought a two-day immersion with academics might be fun. I agreed to present on trends in technical communication. The conference took place in Louisiana Tech University’s Academic Success Center in Bossier City (just outside of Shreveport), LA. Presenters followed a format where they spoke for just 15 minutes and then transitioned to 15-minute Q&A with the audience. The presentatio

  • Recording and slides for my trends presentation at the Symposium for Communicating Complex Information (SCCI)

    Recording and slides for my trends presentation at the Symposium for Communicating Complex Information (SCCI)

    24/02/2019

    About the Symposium for Communicating Complex Information You can view the conference program and schedule for the Symposium for Communicating Complex Information here. My presentation on trends My presentation was a keynote on tech comm trends called Tech Comm Trends: Providing Value as a Generalist in a Sea of Specialists. You can view my slides at trends-growing-disproportions. The recording of my presentation is available here: If you just want to listen to the audio, you can listen here: Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Latest thoughts on trends Although I’ve written and spoken about trends several times this year, I shifted focuses a bit in this presentation. I abandon the argument that technical skills are in such high demand because the technology landscape is getting more complex. (It might be true, but it’s a hard argument to make, and I’m not so sure about it anymore given some responses in my ongoing Engineers writ

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

    How to become a 10X technical writer in the workplace

    07/02/2019

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Background The term “10X engineer” (pronounced 10-ex) is sometimes used to describe engineers who are ten times more productive than other engineers. It describes someone who is simply more efficient, capable, and accomplishes more than others. The Silicon Valley Dictionary explains: “10X-engineer”: A concept sometimes used in Silicon Valley to describe an engineer that is 10X more productive than an average engineer although the 10X metric is figurative. Sometimes referred to as “Ninjas”, these engineers are highly sought after by all tech companies Jim: You gave me 100 resumes but none of these guys are 10X engineers. Why hire a few of these guys to slow us down when a 10X engineer is so much more productive? For more on this term, see 10X Engineer Series. What has prompted my interest in becoming a 10X technical writer? Well, lately I feel like I’ve let my edge slip a bit at work. I don’t feel

  • 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

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Our original feedback form A few months ago, we added a feedback form to our Appstore docs at work. Right below the title on every page, we added an easily visible button that says “Submit Feedback.” The button opens a Qualtrics form where users can submit ratings and comments. This initial feedback form looked like this: Not a lot of feedback came in through this form — maybe one legitimate comment a day on average. Our metrics say about a thousand people visit the docs a day, so why weren’t more people leaving feedback? I doubted they were all finding exactly what they needed and leaving happy and satisfied. Designing for feedback I wanted to tweak my feedback form to maximize the number of responses. I considered questions like these: What factors influence whether users decide to leave feedback? Are there design implementations that might double or triple the responses? How could we ra

  • 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 Duração: 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

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. I published the recording of the API documentation workshop that I recently gave in Menlo Park (on Nov 8, 2018). You can view the recordings on my API documentation site here: Recorded Video Presentations. This API documentation workshop (which I mentioned earlier) was a full-day workshop, so there are more than 5 hours of recorded material here. If you’re really into workshop recordings, you can also listen to the Denver API workshop that I gave earlier this year (March 2018). Notes on recording – cardioid versus omnidirectional For the Denver workshop, I used a Movo cardioid lapel mic. However, I think cardioid was the wrong choice because it requires you to have a consistent distance from the mic. When you’re presenting, you might turn your head from side to side or up or down. Cardioid mics are very sensitive to changes in position like this, and the volume fluctuated a lot as a result. Also, the au

  • New post in Simplifying Complexity series -- Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist through your technical acuity

    New post in Simplifying Complexity series -- Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist through your technical acuity

    30/11/2018

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. You can read the essay here: Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist through your technical acuity. How exactly does the topic of being a generalist or specialist tie in with simplifying complexity? Here’s an excerpt: Do technical writers, who are typically only familiar with the subjects we write about, need to become engineer-like specialists, focusing in on a couple of domains in depth, so that we can write, edit, and publish more knowledgeably in these domains? Is specialization the only way to handle complexity? Will I need to become a specialist to survive as a technical writer in the future? Note that this content has undergone multiple iterations: First version Second version Third version In this third version, I expanded the research in places, provided better organization in my analysis, and tried to integrate some more personal stories in places. I also narrated it as

  • How to avoid being a secretary for engineers

    How to avoid being a secretary for engineers

    19/11/2018

    Listen to this post: You can download the MP3 file, subscribe in iTunes, or listen with Stitcher. Critical inquiry versus vocational knowledge Lately I’ve been thinking about two types of knowledge: intellectual knowledge versus vocational knowledge. Or rather, critical inquiry versus technical how-to. Or theoretical knowledge versus practical knowledge. In short, asking why versus asking how or what. I’m not entirely sure how to characterize the differences, but the difference in focus has contributed to some angst in my tech writing career lately. Rewind a bit to my previous posts on trends (such as this one or this earlier one), and you’ll find that I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether to be a generalist or specialist. Regardless of any generalist/specialist outcomes around research and what employers want, etc., it’s hard to escape this one critical fact: you can’t write without knowledge. Unless you have a more solid technical grounding, you just can’t write much about those topics.

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