6 Emerging Trends in Technical Communication (Scriptorium Publishing’s Webcast)

Wondering where technical communication is headed, in 2010 and beyond? Sarah O’Keefe (from Scriptorium Publishing Services), Ellis Pratt (from Cherryleaf), and Tony Self (from HyperWrite) offer their insights, in a more than hour-long presentation, offered through Scriptorium Publishing’s highly informative webcast series.

According to these respected thought leaders, here are six emerging trends in technical communication:

  • Trend 1: Documentation will become more of a [positive] emotional experience for the user.
  • Trend 2: Technical communicators will start writing in a more persuasive (rhetorical) style, rather than their traditional neutral (explanatory|expository) style.
  • Trend 3: XML is now a prerequisite for supporting wider business objectives, providing much more than cost-cutting localization or single source formatting benefits.
  • Trend 4: The paradigm for how users refer to Customer Support versus User Documentation is changing.
  • Trend 5: Autogenerated Documentation—turning task models into procedures—is on the horizon.
  • Trend 6: As the proliferation of information continues to explode on the Web, technical communicators will find their jobs involving more and more content curation.

Make sure to listen in to the audio, in the SlideShare presentation (XML is now a prerequisite, not a feature). This webcast represents one of the best one-stop resources I’ve found, summarizing and exploring today’s technical communication landscape.

9 thoughts on “6 Emerging Trends in Technical Communication (Scriptorium Publishing’s Webcast)

  1. Hallo Peg,
    Thank you so much for this very useful summary of what Tony, Sarah and Ellis have to say in the presentation! It’s interesting to compare the 6 trends. For example, at first glance two of them seem contradictory: more emotional experience in the docs, and more auto-generated docs. Actually, though, they’re all valid points and emerging trends. It just goes to show what a wide field we are in. A pretty exciting one too.

    Cheers, Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      You’re welcome, of course. It was a great webcast, as all Scriptorium’s resources are.

      That’s an ironic observation about the “closeness” to our customers, which Ellis Pratt observed, as being so important to the future of technical documentation, with the simultaneous emergence of auto-generated doc.

      During the webcast, Sarah O’Keefe made the distinction between high-quality docs (the official company-sanctioned user doc) versus one-off docs, like release notes. I wonder if we will see a lower and lower bar, with “good enough” as a standard, for many docs, which could possibly be auto- or user-generated. The higher standard–the types of docs which clients would ask O’Keefe’s Scriptorium Publsihing Service, to convert to XML, for example, would be the docs still professionally written, or curated.

      It’s all still very much a moving target, but the webcast certainly captured a lot of the current developments and questions.

      Peg

  2. Hallo Peg,

    Thank you so much for this very useful summary of what Tony, Sarah and Ellis have to say in the presentation! It’s interesting to compare the 6 trends. For example, at first glance two of them seem contradictory: more emotional experience in the docs, and more auto-generated docs. Actually, though, they’re all valid points and emerging trends. It just goes to show what a wide field we are in. A pretty exciting one too.

    Cheers, Sarah

  3. Great webcast. I have run into the get-it-done-now mindset of “Just do it in Word.” This is something I have to deal with sometimes. Also, what is conceptual documentation?

    • Hi Craig,

      Lots of shops, especially smaller ones, or environments where there’s a lone technical writer, are in that mindset. So, rest assured, you’re not alone!

      As far as conceptual documentation, that would be overview type info, as opposed to procedural info. Systems, process, product overviews, feature descriptions (reference documentation) still require deep expertise and understanding of the entire product. Installation documentation is also likely to remain in the technical communicator’s corner. That’s something not likely to change, and a perspective technical communicators still bring to the table.

      Thanks for stopping by and hope you continue to lend your voice here.

      Peg

      • I am lucky enough to work as my small company’s first and only technical writer. Glad I’m not alone in such a position.

  4. Peg said, “The Society of Technical Communications’ Special Interest Group for lone technical writers is a good resource…”

    I know, but I was not able to renew my membership because of the price increase. Shrug.

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