Update May 23, 2015: Much has changed since I first wrote this back in 2009. There are more social media platforms. More mobile devices. Wearables. I think it’s still a good idea to continue to look at techcomm with an eye on innovation. To continue to try new methods. To experiment. To push the envelope. To continually reinvent technical writing …
More and more, I think it’s time to discard main approaches to tech writing and come up with new methodologies. The world and technology is changing so much that I think it’s time to start fresh. Just as sometimes when you’re working on a sentence and you tweak it and change it, but it’s still not quite right, and you finally just drop it and come up with something different. Perhaps it’s time to drop existing methodologies and develop something new instead of trying to tweak what’s there to fit what’s happening now. Perhaps the old methods no longer work.
The old print book model won’t do any longer. While I realize that there has been movement away from that for a while, I think that more is needed.
Let’s toss everything out and see what we can develop. Let’s use the modes of delivery that are out there now and pretend that books and their chapter formats don’t exist, online or otherwise – and that screens will remain small. Let’s cut content even shorter (using the 140-character limit in Twitter as an example). Let’s think more about how people are going to create and access content and plan accordingly.