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Content Strategy Insights podcast with Larry Swanson about API documentation

by Tom Johnson on Dec 2, 2020 •
categories: api-doc

Larry Swanson, a UX content strategist, runs a podcast called Content Strategy Insights. Larry recently interviewed me a few weeks ago about various topics related to API documentation.

You can listen to the podcast here: Content Strategy Insights Episode 88 - Tom Johnson: Documenting APIs. (Larry’s site is called Elles Media.)

Tom Johnson podcast with Larry Swanson on Content Strategy Insights

Larry described the topics we chat about as follows:

We talked about:

  • his evolution from writing to teaching to technical writing to his current focus on API documentation
  • the things he likes about technical writing and how it’s such a good fit for him
  • the scope of API documentation and some examples of content provided via APIs
  • the difference between documenting self-contained programs vs. APIs, which don’t usually provide a solution on their own
  • how developers access and use APIs
  • how API designers balance the need for flexible use of their API content with the need to not overwhelm users of the API with too much content
  • the differences in assessing and contributing to product design with APIs vs. traditional applications
  • the new ways that usability concerns arise and are addressed in API documentation
  • how tech writers and developers collaborate
  • the differences between writing for technical and non-technical audiences
  • his relationships with field engineers, developer advocates, and other customer-facing teammates
  • how he works with engineering teams
  • the importance of transparency in developer documentation
  • how he manages his workflow when he’s supporting multiple teams and products, in particular the importance of being a proactive project manager
  • the unique challenges that solo tech writers face
  • how he feels more engaged in his career when he’s writing about it
  • how his academic background in literary nonfiction has had surprising professional benefits
  • how refreshing and fun it is for him to reflect on his professional work and to blog about it

You can listen to Content Strategy Insights on Elles Media or through iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tunein, etc. Larry also has an extensive number of podcasts you can listen to. For example, also check out Larry’s podcast with Scott Abel in September.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle 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.

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