New post in Simplifying Complexity series -- Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist at the same time
You can read the essay here: Principle 11: Be both a generalist and specialist at the same time.
How exactly does the topic of being a generalist or specialist tie in with simplifying complexity? Here’s an excerpt:
Do technical writers, who are typically only familiar with the subjects we write about, need to become engineer-like specialists, focusing in on a couple of domains in depth, so that we can write, edit, and publish more knowledgeably in these domains? Is specialization the only way to handle complexity? Will I need to become a specialist to survive as a technical writer in the future?
Note that this content has undergone multiple iterations:
In this third version, I expanded the research in places, provided better organization in my analysis, and tried to integrate some more personal stories in places. I also narrated it as a podcast. Overall, this still remains a challenging topic, and the length of the article probably shows.
Also, if you’re viewing the essay on my Simplifying Complexity site, you’ll notice that I increased the font a bit. I don’t know if my eyesight is getting worse or what, but while reading it I kept squinting and decided to simply make the text more readable.
I feel like I’ve let this essay occupy quite a bit of attention on my blog lately. With each iteration, I’ve gathered feedback from you through surveys and used the information to write the next version. I don’t always push content through multiple revisions like this. Many blog posts are one-and-done efforts. But this particular topic has been the focus of multiple presentations this year, so it receives continual attention and improvements.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.