What is the future of technical writing? The answer is interactivity. The phenomenon of Web 2.0 has converted Web surfers into Web content providers. People don't just browse the Web anymore, they get involved. They post their photos on flickr, track their movements on twitter, interact with their friends on facebook, review books and CDs on amazon, and comment on their favorite blogs. Many of them probably blog themselves. Today's user expects to reach out to companies whose products he or she buys and uses, and they expect solutions if they have a question or a problem.
Blog posts are generally short, around 300-500 words. So it shouldn't take you long to develop a few posts that will engage, entertain, and inform your readers.
How often should you post? That's up to you. The most important thing is to post regularly. Once a week is fine, even twice a week is alright. Posting more than once a day can annoy your readers unless you have really useful information every time.
Make your writing style more informal and conversational than you're used to in your other writing. Don't cut and paste sections of a user's manual and call it a blog post. You'll want to give readers the impression that you're talking face to face with them. And don't forget to encourage them to participate. Ask them questions about the products and their experiences with them. Invite them to leave comments and ask questions.
How candid should you be? Do you want to air your Company's dirty laundry? Do you want the world to know that there's a significant bug in your interface and your company hasn't figured out how to solve it yet? The answers to these questions will vary by company, and unless you're the company, you won't decide on them alone (or at all). One thing to keep in mind, though, about the Web, is that openness is fast becoming a standard. It may be impossible to prevent information from getting out without your company's permission, and with networking applications like Twitter, news travels quickly. If you discover a problem, your best course may lie in being the first to tell the world about the bug. Instead of looking like you have something to hide, you'll look like a stand up company for owning up to your mistakes.
|Join the Community|
Whether you get involved by posting to other writers' blogs or by starting your own, it's a great idea to get involved. In a high tech field like technical writing, everyone is online. Blogs are the places where people go for information and to meet others who share their interests. As you move forward with your technical writing career, you'll find that you have more and more of your own experience to share.
Technical Writing can be a skill you need from time to time in developing and marketing a product, or it can be a dynamic, rewarding profession. As technology pervades every corner of our daily lives, good technical communicators will continue to be in even greater demand. This course is just the beginning of all there is to learn about technical writing. Get involved. Join the online community of technical writers and the STC. Learn all you can, and never stop learning.
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