Applying Web 2.0 to Technical Documentation

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This article is based on my presentation at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators' annual conference, in October 2006, on new trends in technical authoring. It covers the application of Web 2.0 technologies to technical documentation.

The three waves of interestingness

Every now and then, there are times where there is a change in the value of what a technical author deliveries. These are moments when organizations pay attention to technical documentation. This is because they recognize these changes mean that they can create something that will be of real value to the business and to their customers.

In recent years, there have been three "waves of interestingness". The first wave was the introduction of Windows Help (WinHelp). The second major wave was the introduction of the Internet and intranets. This was a time when organizations looked at how they could take large amounts of information and put them online. They were faced with issues such as how users could access and understand all this information easily – issues which technical communicators deal with on a day-to-day basis.

I believe we're just about to approach the new wave, which we have called "Tech Writing 2.0".

What do we mean by Tech Writing 2.0?

Tech Writing 2.0 is application of Web 2.0 services and technologies to technical communication. Web 2.0 gives us the opportunity to significantly change the quality of what the users receive.

This new wave is not about the introduction of DITA or the introduction of the new Help format in Windows Vista. These two technologies will primarily affect what happens behind the scenes. What the user receives is illegally to change significantly from what they received today.

What do we mean by Web 2.0?

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:

"A second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online. In contrast to the first generation, Web…

Sourced from by Ellis Pratt

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