Don’t Forget the Technical Writers!

Much of the conversation (and tool development) these days centers around how to involve subject matter experts in the content creation process. It’s true that an increasing amount of content is being generated by non-writers: engineers, developers, business analysts, support personnel, and so forth. If that’s the case, then where does it leave the technical writer? Far from pushing technical writers out of the content creation process, the shift towards SME-created content leaves technical writers positioned to add a completely different value to content.

In this presentation, Leigh shares a few anecdotes from her own and others’ careers that illustrate how technical writing has moved from, “Let’s just try to get the updated manuals out the door at the same time as the software,” to “How can we get manuals and online help out of the same source,” to “How can we use XML to create intelligent support chatbot responses?” Leigh also discusses the many hats that today’s technical writers must wear, and how in fact, technical writer is fast becoming an obsolete job title, being replaced by other titles such as content architect, information architect, or content strategist–all indicative of the shift from creating content to curating, organizing, and managing content to deliver the best user experience.

Finally, even though this presentation focuses primarily on the changing role of technical writers, you can’t get away from the tools. Leigh also discusses some of the technologies and tools that today’s technical writers must master to ensure they can take their place in this new post-content-creator era.

What can the audience expect to learn?

While a lot of the current focus is on how to integrate SMEs into the content creation process, that discussion leaves technical writers a bit at sea as to what their role will evolve into. This presentation will offer some insights into what those new roles might be and how to prepare for the transition.

Meet the presenter

Leigh White is a DITA Specialist at IXIASOFT, where she works with product integrations,product design, and marketing communications. Leigh has spoken on DITA, content management systems content conversion, and DITA-OT plugin development at a number of conferences, including DITA North America, DITA Europe, Intelligent Content, Lavacon, Writers UA, DITA Netherlands, and Congility. She is the author of DITA For Print: A DITA Open Toolkit Workbook and a contributor to The Language of Content Strategy and The Language of Technical Communication. Leigh is also a member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee.

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