To be honest, I’ve liked Google’s documentation for some time now. Not only does it seem to try to conform to the 5 Cs (clear, complete, consistent, concise, correct), it’s laid out in a simple, readable form. There aren’t too many frills, and those frills aren’t always in your face.
Over the last little while, I’ve been taking another look at Google’s documentation. Mainly because of the work I was doing and supervising on the FLOSS Manual for the Chromium Web browser. And, partly, because of a comment by Ivan Walsh on a recent post in this space.
So, at Ivan’s (non) suggestion, I took another peek at the documentation for Google Chrome. Now, more than ever, seem to be following some principles/ideas that Aaron and I have been espousing (and taking heat for in TC circles) for a few years. Not that we’re taking credit for anything that Google’s tech writing team has done …
Confession time: for quite a longer stretch than I care to admit, I learned very little. Yes, this was during the last decade; about the time that I worked at The Company That Shall Not Be Named.
Well, that’s not quite true. I did learn some things, but not enough or what I wanted to learn.
Luckily, that’s changed. And lately I’ve been learning or relearning quite a lot. Not everything has been about technical communication, though almost all of what I’ve been learning or relearning can be applied to our wacky profession. Or any other profession.
Interested in taking a peek into some of the insights Uncle Scotty has gleaned? Then read on …
Recently, a friend forwarded me an interesting blog post. It’s from popular blog on language learning, and the post in question examines the paralysis that comes from demanding perfection from one’s self. Admittedly, I have no interest in the subject matter of that blog, but the post intrigued me.
Why? The thrust of that blog post also applies to documentation.
Most technical communicators I know take pride in their work. They want the documentation that they write to be as complete as possible. They want it to be as good as possible. Maybe a little bit more. They’re aiming for perfection.
Some people see perfection as a laudable goal. I don’t. The problem is that perfection can be a mind killer. Perfection is a trap. Perfection isn’t a good goal. Why? You’ll never achieve it.