Can Technical Writers add value to KM - 28 08 2013x - Meetup

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6 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 3 μέρες)

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TECHNICAL WRITERS


CAN WE HELP WITH KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT?

Neil Woolley

Treasurer and Webmaster, Australian Society
for Technical Communication (Vic)

28
th

August 2013

Brief History of Technical Writing


Early 1900s
-

The first technical writing books
began to appear


Strongly linked to the engineering discipline and military
(aircraft manuals, weapons…)


Post WW II


war
-
time technologies translated into
peace
-
time use


1950s


technical writing courses offered in
universities


1980s


computer era generated a lot of work for
technical writers


2013


Many people doing technical writing who
are not calling themselves technical writers.
Historically we were very technical, now we are
more of a generalist profession

What do you think
technical writers do?

Writing
Plain Language
Clear
,
concise
,
accurate
,
complete
In required
style
For different
output formats
For the
audience
Spelling
,
Grammar
,
Punctuation
,
Vocabulary
Research
and analysis
Requirements
analysis
Needs
analysis
Task analysis
Information gathering
Audience
analysis
Design
,
structure
,
layout
Information
design
Graphic
design
Using
graphics
Presentations
Visual design
Editing
and quality
control
Structural
editing
Usability
and testing
Style guides
Intellectual
property
Documentation
standards
Copy editing
Output
formats
Print
publishing
Social media
,
wikis
,
forums
Online
publishing
Output and
publishing
Other skills
Computer
skills
Tools
Specific
domain
knowledge
XML
/
DITA
HTML
/
CSS
Localisation
Management
and organisation
Project management
Documentation development
process
Scoping
Organisational
skills
We call ourselves
technical
communicators

(but no
-
one else does)!


We do so much more than just “write”

Where do we fit in the spectrum of
communications professions?

But we don’t just write

we also do:


Research and analysis:


research


information gathering


requirements analysis


audience analysis


interviewing





But we don’t just
write

we also do:


Design, structure and layout of information


content design


visual design (look and feel)


graphic design (illustrations, photographs)





But we don’t just
write

we also do:


Editing and quality control


usability design and testing


editing (technical, structural and copy
-
editing)


proof reading


developing writing and editing style guides


peer reviews





But we don’t just
write

we also do:


Output and publishing to a variety of formats to suit
the audience


paper


PDF


online help


wikis


web and intranet content


content management systems

We can also advise on using single
-
sourcing tools
for reusing content and publishing to a variety of
output formats.






But we don’t just
write

we also do:


Management and organisation


scoping of content development projects


project management





But we don’t just
write

we
may also be:


Subject matter experts
in tools such as:


MS Word (advanced features such as styles, templates,
macros)


MS PowerPoint


Adobe Acrobat


Help authoring tools (Author
-
it, Flare,
RoboHelp
,
Framemaker
)


HTML / CSS programming


Video creation tools (Captivate, Articulate)


Proofreading (
PerfectIT
)





How long does it take to understand this?

(From Yarra Council website)

All
reasonable precautions should be taken to
avoid damage to Council assets. If damage occurs
as a result of a skip bin being placed on, or
removed from, the site or whilst there as a result of
its use, the permit holder will be held responsible
for the cost of repairs and/or reinstatement. All
repairs will be carried out by Council. The permit
holder must advise Council immediately of any
such damage.

How

long does it take to understand this?

(
Alternative suggestion)

When using a hired skip, you must take care not to
damage any Council property. If any damage does
occur:


inform the Council immediately


the Council will organise to repair the damage


you will pay the cost of repairs.



The option to temporarily relocate out of the
building while building works are undertaken will
result in significant expenditure, more than the bid
for the relocation as a temporary site will need to
be established before the move, then the old site
will have to be refurbished for the move back. This
would result in a new purchase of equipment plus
additions to move back to the old site and two fit
outs, albeit one temporary.”


How

long does it take to understand this?

(From an unnamed company)


If we move out of the building temporarily while
the building works are being done, it will cost more
than relocating permanently because:


a temporary site will have to be fitted out


the old site will have to be refurbished


new equipment will have to be purchased


there will be two moves instead of one.”


How

long does it take to understand this?

(
Alternative suggestion)

What did that illustrate?


How much time can be saved in an organisation if the
words are written well


Good writing is so clear it is invisible


Technical writing and knowledge
management (1)

One definition of knowledge management (
Duhon
, 1998):


"Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an
integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating,
retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information
assets. These assets may include databases, documents,
policies, procedures, and previously un
-
captured
expertise and experience in individual workers."


Technical writing and knowledge
management (2)

Technical writers can perform many of these tasks:


Identify information


Capture information


Evaluate, retrieve, share information assets


Write
policies,
procedures


Extract knowledge, expertise
and experience
from
individual
workers and convert it into meaningful
information for the audience


Design information so that people can easily find the
piece of information they want when they need it


Discussion

What are the similarities and
differences between knowledge
management professionals and
technical writing professionals?