TechComm and Artificial Intelligence (overview of a podcast by Seth Earley)

Nowadays, artificial intelligence is a central subject in the constantly evolving world of technologies. It is believed that in the long run, it will define the next generation of software solutions. Simultaneously, there is a lot of anxiety that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to lead to significant labor displacement.

So, in the context of Technical Communication, does the advance of AI mean that our trade is doomed to extinction as well?

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Leading by example in legacy projects

One of the typical ways for agreeing to have project documentation in place is this:

  1. Customer voices the need for documentation (on a side note, product-based software companies are not considered in this discussion).
  2. Documentation team provides the estimates.
  3. Estimates are adjusted and approved.

This works well for new projects and new features in existing projects. On a side note, this also assumes that the people who give the final approval for documentation do understand why documentation is needed.

But what about legacy projects, the ones that are poorly documented or not documented at all? How do you convince the company (or the customer) that documentation is needed?

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Operation Cleanup: CSS refactoring for InfoDevs

Hey, fellow writers who work in MadCap Flare! Have you ever opened your CSS style sheet in a text editor and checked if it contains conflicting entries, style duplicates, or empty style definitions? Maybe there are unnecessary repetitions of a property assigned to child elements, but this property is already assigned to a parent element? (I had this problem with fonts and colors).

Being unsure of what is going on with your CSS, you might be surprised to find that, for example, after you changed one property, half of your document inexplicably changed its color or indentation level. And there you are wasting time trying to apply a quick fix that most probably breaks something else. It is only then that you finally realize that the CSS refactoring time has come. Continue reading

5 reasons you need knowledge transfer on your project

To check your project for knowledge management problems, try answering the following three questions:

  1. Do you know what your project team needs to know?
  2. Do you know what they already know?
  3. Do you (and they) know where their knowledge is stored?

If you have troubles doing so, your project might require knowledge transfer. Here’s how a dedicated Information Developer can help you. Continue reading

TechComm prep school: six takeaways from customer support

If you merely scratch the surface, it might seem that the only similarity between a technical writer and a customer support agent is the broad goal of serving the needs of the target audience. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll see that these jobs are not only connected but also have a lot in common. Following my own experience in customer support, I will share a couple of observations and show that customer support might even turn out to be a sort of TechComm prep school.

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InfoDev in the future

I’ve never imagined, even for a second, that my job might soon be replaced by what we now know as Artificial Intelligence. Have you?

That fact dawned on me when I came across a recent McKinsey Global Institute study. The report states that half of today’s jobs can theoretically be automated in the near future. More precisely, 400–800 million jobs will be displaced, and 375 million (or 15% of all workers) will need to completely change their occupational field.

Unbelievable, right?

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