Some years ago, I used to suffer from developer neglect, or to use a more scientific term, from a kind of information exclusion complex. You know what I’m talking about. Developers make updates to the interface, often at the last minute, and don’t let the tech writer know what changed. As a result, the help is wrong and out of date. It’s a frustrating experience from the writer’s perspective.
Technical communicators frequently collaborate in workplace projects and bring a host of different kinds of expertise to this collaboration. Yet the understanding of communicators’ expertise among managers and subject matter experts is grounded in a view of writing as a finished product and authorship as singular. This article documents many different kinds of 'contributory expertise' employed by writers collaborating to produce articles for publication. Expertise in research, textual composition, visual composition, as well as other kinds of expertise garnered on previous projects is often brought to collaborative projects. Often emerging and developing as a function of collaborative work is expertise in framing the project, conducting review processes, and assessing outcomes. These categories are discussed in some detail to provide practicing communicators with ideas for documenting expertise in their specific workplaces, to provide students with ideas for developing expertise in various areas, and to prov
Double agents on writing teams provide benefits to both product developers and technical writers with their unique skills and perspectives. You'll be more likely to get the information you need when you need it because your double agent has already set the stage for success. Learn the benefits of having a double agent working with technical writers as a part of the product development team. Discover valuable secrets never before divulged to the public that you can use to work with your product developers. Take out your magnifying glass and look for the clues.
Almost a decade ago, Walkowski's (1991) study of the interaction between subject-matter experts (SMEs) and technical writers focused on the perceptions of software engineers toward technical writers. Her findings gave technical writers insights on how to improve critical relationships with these organizational colleagues. This study partially replicates Walkowski's (1991) study of technical writer-SME interactions, but instead of collecting data from SMEs, we surveyed technical writers themselves. We report perceptions collected from 31 technical writers and contrast them with Walkowski's original findings, offering interpersonal and organizational recommendations for addressing tensions between these groups. By examining both the SMEs' and the technical writers' perceptions of their relationship, we are able to provide a two-sided view of a dynamic and complex interaction. We also argue that participants in the SME-technical writer interaction cannot fully alter their relationship without the strategic supp
Sports doesn’t always parallel life, but here’s one that’s relevant for the season. Although penalties in football are usually looked upon as costly mistakes, they can actually be a good thing — they demonstrate aggressiveness. Holding back your players into a passive, milquetoast attitude can be worse than racking up a half a dozen penalties. Aggressiveness also happens to be an important quality for technical writers, even if it also results in a few social penalties.