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The Manuscript Podcast, with Breno Barreto -- Episode 2, How technical should a tech writer be?

by Tom Johnson on Mar 8, 2020 •
categories: podcaststechnical-writing

The Manuscript is a new tech comm podcast produced by Breno Barreto, a technical writer working for VTEX in Brazil. Breno interviewed me for episode 2, titled How technical should a tech writer be? In this podcast, we talked about changes in the tech comm field, how I got started, comparisons with copywriting, API docs, processes for tech writing at Amazon, explanatory writing versus exploratory writing, trends I'm seeing, and more.

Here’s a description of The Manuscript:

In The Manuscript, we delve into the intersection of writing and the development of technology products. Every couple of weeks we talk to people making a difference in Technical Writing, Instructional Design, UX Writing, Content Strategy and anywhere else there’s someone thinking about content in digital products and the tech industry.

You can subscribe on Spotify here. Or you can view episodes on Breno’s website. You can learn more about Breno on Linkedin here.

Currently, the podcast has just 3 episodes (interviews with Mark Baker, Jacob Moses, and me). Breno interviewed me for the episode How technical should a tech writer be? The description of this episode is as follows:

Tom Johnson is a technical writer from California, currently working for Amazon in the Appstore group. He is also the creator of the blog I’d Rather Be Writing, one of the most influential blogs on technical communications today. In this episode, Tom explores how a tech writer should approach the balance between writing expertise and technical knowledge. He also talks about the most common pitfalls in writing API documentation and shares his thoughts on how beginner writers should tackle the challenge of learning to use and document APIs.

Here are some questions covered during the episode:

  • What motivated you to start blogging?
  • Have perceptions about the job of tech writers changed from the time you first started blogging?
  • How does copywriting compare to technical writing?
  • How do we find people who are both technical enough to write but also interested and willing to write documentation?
  • How technical should a tech writer be?
  • Does the high traffic to your API doc site indicate that tech writers are eager for technical education?
  • How do you go about continually learning and increasing your expertise in the field?
  • Where do developer docs usually go wrong?
  • What is the technical writing process at Amazon like?
  • Is there a place for exploratory writing in the workplace?
  • How do you write for users with different levels of expertise?
  • What trends are developer docs moving towards?
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