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Strategies from pickup basketball -- Why you shouldn't guard the worst player or focus too much on the documentation no one reads
Most of my readers are technical writers, so I rarely post about basketball. But given the current NBA playoffs, I'd like to briefly explain my latest pickup basketball strategy and how it can help you win not only on the court, but on documentation projects too.
New Simplifying Complexity article on shaping information into familiar schemas, especially story
In case you haven't been following previous posts, I have a microsite called Simplifying Complexity where I'm exploring various approaches for making complex information more usable and consumable. This microsite contains longer, more in-depth articles following a specific theme. My latest addition to the site is a new article called 'Reducing complexity by shaping information into familiar schemas, especially story'.
A Review of the MadWorld Conference -- guest post by Jayna Locke
In this guest post, Jayna Locke explains what brought her to the MadWorld Conference the first time and what keeps her returning. She describes the main reasons for attending, tips for getting the most out of the conference, best practices, and more. The MadWorld Conference takes place June 3-6, 2018 in San Diego, California.
New article on Simplifying Complexity: Reduction, layering, and distillation as a strategy for simplicity
I published a new article on Simplifying Complexity called Reduction, layering, and distillation as a strategy for simplicity. It's all about how reduction and distillation of information helps reduce complexity for users.
The math game my daughter and her friend created with Codesters
My 13-year-old daughter and her classmate recently created a math game designed for fifth grade students learning variables. They used Codesters, which is a website that uses Python to let kids code directly in the browser in an easy-to-learn way.
What can we learn from the homogenous profiles in the Stack Overflow 2018 survey?
Stack Overflow recently published their 2018 survey, which included more than 100,000 developers. What surprised me most was the lack of diversity in the survey participants.
WTD podcast episode 14: Humanizing your documentation
In the latest episode of the Write the Docs podcast, we chat with Carolyn Stransky, a journalist and JavaScript developer living in Berlin, about ways to humanize documentation. We discuss dilemmas with transparency in docs (the balance between honesty and negativity), ways to avoid gendered language (including whether to correct workplace misuse of "he"), strategies for achieving plain language and clarity (such as by reading your content out loud), the term "user" and alternatives, how to develop empathy for your audience, why terms like "simple" and "easy" are problematic (even in Marketing), tools for identifying insensitivity and complexity in docs (Hemingway, Alex), what makes content sound truly human, and more.
Recording of API documentation workshop in Denver
I recently gave a half-day API workshop in Denver on March 10, 2018. Topics in the workshop included how to document reference API content (endpoints, parameters, requests, etc.), what non-reference topics (for example, status and error codes, rate limiting, getting started, sample apps) are common, how to create an OpenAPI specification document and Swagger UI output, and more. You can view a recording of the workshop, browse the slides, and listen to the audio here. Because of the length, the content is divided into three parts.
Guest post: The story behind DocToolHub, a site for finding tech comm tools
Last week I ran across an interesting site called DocToolHub that classifies hundreds of tech comm authoring and publishing tools. When I shared the link on Twitter, it received 38 favorites and 16 retweets, so I assume many others found the site useful as well. I decided to follow up with Greg Babb, the person who created DocToolHub, to find out more details and the story behind DocToolHub. I told Greg I was interested in strategies for tagging and classification, as these strategies apply more generally to documentation as well. The following is a guest post by Greg Babb about DocToolHub.
Recording of Docs-as-code tools and workflows presentation
I recently gave presentation to the Rocky Mountain STC on "Docs-as-code workflows and tools" on March 9, 2018. The docs-as-code approach is most common in the developer doc space. In this presentation, I explore the upsides and downsides of treating documentation as software code, and what details are involved in adopting engineering tools, workflows, collaborative processes, and other practices. You can view the recording, listen the the audio, and browse the slides here.
Recording of STC San Francisco presentation: Beyond mere endpoint reference — the overlooked content in API documentation
I recently gave a presentation to the STC San Francisco chapter called "Beyond mere endpoint reference — the overlooked content in API documentation" on February 21, 2018. You can browse the slides and listen to the audio recording here.
New article in Simplifying Complexity -- Ensuring information harmony in the larger documentation landscape
In the Simplifying Complexity section of my site, I published a new article about how to ensure information harmony across a larger documentation landscape, where other articles might contain similar themes and information. In the article, I dive into two factors that increase complexity in a system: specialization and interconnectedness. Relevant to documentation scenarios, when subject matter experts contribute specialized articles into a larger system without understanding how their individual article interacts with other information in the system, the result is often a redundant, contradictory, and ever-increasing jumble of content. In this article, I explore ways to solve this problem through better metadata, primarily evaluating tags and whether they can help identify all known instances of content. You can read the article here: Ensuring information harmony in the larger documentation landscape.
Perspectives on tech comm from the VP Candidates — Q&A with Pam Brewer
With the beginning of the 2018 STC elections, I decided to ask the Vice President candidates a few questions to get to know their perspectives on tech comm. The elected VP automatically transitions into the president role the following year after election, so it's an important voting decision. I asked both Pam Brewer and Ben Woelk the same questions. The following are Pam's responses. (You can read Ben's responses here.)
Perspectives on tech comm from the VP Candidates — Q&A with Ben Woelk
With the beginning of the 2018 STC elections, I decided to ask the Vice President candidates a few questions to get to know their perspectives on tech comm. The elected VP automatically transitions into the president role the following year after election, so it's an important voting decision. I asked both Ben Woelk and Pam Brewer the same questions. The following are Ben's responses. (You can read Pam's responses here.)
Recording of OpenAPI and Swagger presentation (for STC and WTD San Diego)
I recently gave a presentation to the STC San Diego chapter and WTD San Diego group called "Swagger UI and the OpenAPI specification" (February 13, 2018). You can view a recording of the presentation, browse the slides, and listen to the audio here.

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