Wednesday Dec 05, 2007

Jonathan Speaks About Docs

On November 19, 2007, Jonathan Schwartz spoke about technical documentation in the new millennium at a joint IPG brown bag session and editorial forum meeting. Here, a little past sell thru date, is my take on my notes on his shpiel. Feel free to comment, Jonathan, if I've misrepresented you.

Documentation is defined by the user, not by Sun. The perfect product is one in which the user is enveloped in information. We as writers should do all the work for the user by navigating the chaos but how we can be compelling? Well, Jonathan is very big on blogging. Me, too. Interestingly enough, the number one reason Jonathan started to blog was to get 4000 others to start. (I think that means us.) He finds blogging the single most important way to engage the marketplace: the more people are talking about us, the less they are talking about our competitors. And because our competitors have more sales people, bigger brands and a broader reach, we can fight back by engaging people in their interests through blogging. Here are some paraphrased questions and answers from, shockingly enough, the Q&A:

Q - Shouldn't all the info be in one place rather than all over blogs?

A - It is. The internet.

Q - What do we do with globalization?

A - No great wisdom from Jonathan except ask. Find out what people are downloading globally.

Q - How do you measure success? Metrics?

A - It's next to impossible to measure. What Jonathan cares about most is engagement as once someone is engaged, you've got them.

Peter Fernandez summed up the talk when he said (paraphrased of course) that now we typically use a set of tools to create deliverables and post them to docs.sun.com. For us as writers, the challenge is not whether a blog is replacing this traditional documentation but how can we integrate the blog, and other non-traditional sources of information, into what we do now.

So, if you can't blog today, how about tomorrow or the day after that.

Now that sounds like a seque...

I embed this video of Liza Minnelli singing, um, The Day After That in commemoration of World AIDS Day which was four days ago on December 1.

Even Lucy, my cat, was mesmerized when she heard that voice, jumped up on the desk, and saw Liza's face close-up on the computer screen.

Hey, where else can you get your Jonathan Schwartz fix and your Liza Minnelli fix in one blog entry?
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