Throughout my career as a technical communicator, I’ve never documented consumer software or devices. My work has always focused on enterprise applications. Even when I did write documentation for PDA software or for the Blackberry, it was in the context of the enterprise.
Which is why I’m fascinated by the documentation that comes with consumer items. Most of the time, that documentation doesn’t do anything for me. It’s not that great. Or, it just doesn’t grab my attention.
Sometimes, though, that attention isn’t just grabbed it’s held on to. Not too often, but often enough.
That happened recently, and got me thinking about some implications for technical communicators.
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Two weeks ago, the Google Summer of Code Doc Camp was announced. I won’t go into that event in this post; you can read more about it here. Maybe you’ll get involved, too.
After the announcement hit Twitter, Shaun McCance posted an interesting tweet:
I know Shaun, and I understand where he’s coming from with that tweet. Thanks to topic-based writing and online delivery, the whole idea of books and manuals seems so twentieth century. And Shaun has been developing Mallard, a topic-oriented markup language intended primarily for the delivery of help. You can read more about Mallard here.
After reading Shaun’s tweet, I got to thinking about the idea of the book.