Changes in Information - Change is Change

What are we doing now for developing technical information? What should we be doing on developing and delivering technical information? What are the changes in information needs that are affecting us that we should be responding to?

I have been looking at how to categorize some of those changes, and in the process, my thoughts on how you communicate the changes have changed. When you talk of change, it is very easy to introduce or imply value judgments. Old and new, then and now, books and technical articles, printed content and web content. It's very easy for the 'and' to be interpreted as 'versus', and that changes the meaning of the conversation. It is not that what we've done in the past is bad or no longer relevant; it is more that information needs continue to change, and we evolve with the changes.

We have the option to deliver technical content to many places now. Printed docs and docs.sun.com were two of the main options, and we now also have the option of delivering content to developers.sun.com, java.sun.com, BigAdmin, netbeans.org, java.net, opensolaris.org, blogs.sun.com, a lot of sites.

We can deliver books, retail books, online help, man pages, technical articles, tutorials, guides, blogs, podcasts, webcasts, screencasts, how to's, FAQs, forum postings. The choices keep growing, and that is part of the the excitement about the changes in how we communicate.

We can work for months on a technical document, and we can work for minutes on a blog entry, with a lot of options in between. We don't have to wait until a doc is final to get your feedback. We can post a draft and you can comment right away. We have options to work with you that we didn't have a few years ago.

Communication about change goes both ways. People talk to me about changes they want in technical information, and sometimes their message can come across as being judgmental, or the past is bad, or that some of the deliverables are no longer useful. In the end, it isn't one way or the other; past, present, or future; good or bad. It really is about what do you need for your technical information and realizing it is a mix from book to blog, article to podcast. In my opinion, it is finding the right mix of content and information types that best meets your needs for information.

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