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Presentation recording: Specialization myopia syndrome and the content journey

Series: Trends to follow or forget

by Tom Johnson on Mar 7, 2023
categories: technical-writing podcasts

This is a recording of a presentation called Specialization myopia syndrome and the content journey, which I gave to a company's private tech comm event. With their permission, I'm posting it here. You can watch the recording via YouTube or listen the audio file as a podcast.

Video recording

(I edited out the discussion segments.)

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Presentation description

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Specialization myopia syndrome and the content journey

Technology’s trajectories include an ever-increasing acceleration towards complexity and specialization. As a result, documentation portals begin to mirror this same specialized focus, with a lot of niches and deep knowledge into single lines of tech. What gets lost in this world of hyper-specialization is the broad view of products and how they fit and flow together. The broad view — what the product is, what it’s used for, what are all the pieces involved, who is the intended audience, how does it fit within the larger landscape — gets traded for a hundred tiny micro-views of each part and how to implement them. The larger developer journey, if there is one, gets muffled by micro-paths leading everywhere and nowhere.

Because technical writers are generalists (who help shape docs across many different product groups, platforms, and services), we are the last hope for some semblance of higher-level stories and journeys in documentation. As technical writers, we can “specialize” in big-picture thinking, in shaping the developer’s journey through a systems-level product landscape. We can try to connect all the fragments together into a coherent whole. But moving in this direction runs against the flow of specialization, in part because much of what is developed is still searching for shape and form even as the code itself is being written.


About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.