Last weekend, I was in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Open Help Conference. Organized by Shaun McCance, it was a three-day event bringing together people who work on open source or community-based documentation and support.
The conference lived up to its aim to be a cross between traditional conferences and open discussion and participation sessions. The atmosphere was informal, but the participants were serious about the subject matter and (I think) they had a lot of fun.
While there were just under 30 participants, the diversity of that group was something to behold. You had people involved in professional Open Source (there was a large contingent from Mozilla, for example), contributors to various Open Source projects, and a couple of non-Open Source technical writers.
And they came from all over: the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. That diversity gave the presentations and discussions quite a bit of depth.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened at the conference.
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 …
- Tom Johnson discusses where topic-based authoring fails
- The joys and pains of a code freeze, from the perspective of a tech writer
- Use Flare 7? Here’s some advice on streamlining your workflow
- The three layers of mobile user experience
- Ten best practices for preparing a Flare (or RoboHelp) project for translation
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 …