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WTD Australia event recording — 'Remote discussion: Techcomm in the times of pandemic'

by Tom Johnson on May 31, 2020 •
categories: academics-and-practitionerstechnical-writingpodcastsstitcher

I recently co-presented in a WTD Australia event titled Techcomm in the times of pandemic on May 28, 2020. The other presenter was professor Kirk St. Amant. A recording is available below.

Watch the event

Audio only

If you only want the audio, you can listen here:

Event description

You can read the event description here: Remote discussion: Techcomm in the times of pandemic

Tom recently put out a survey https://idratherbewriting.com/blog/quarantine-pandemic-impact-on-tech-comm-survey/

Kirk published an article about the tech comm facets of the pandemic that health communicators have been working in or against https://communicating-about-covid19.weebly.com/

What we chatted about

We talked about two main topics, primarily. First, the results of the pandemic survey. (I also recently posted thoughts about this here: Results of Pandemic Impact on Tech Comm survey.)

Second, we discussed the pandemic from the health tech comm perspective, specifically looking at information in some essays Kirk has written on this topic:

Transcript

The following is a machine-generated transcript of the podcast. Expect typos, misspellings, and other inaccuracies from the actual speech.

wtdaustralia_pandemic_discussion

Swapnil: [00:00:00] . All right, so welcome everyone who's made it to the right, the docs, a pandemic edition. I know that's probably an award not to be thrown around lightly. Um, but this is a very interesting sort of a meeting. We, um, we live in strange, interesting time. So, um. You've decided to get someone who's probably share more than happy to share the experiences with how the technical communication industries shipping around in the times of pandemic.

[00:00:38] I just wanted to, before I start, um, can everyone hear me okay? If you just give me a thumbs up sign? Yeah. Okay. Excellent. So I'll just start sharing my screen. I've just got a couple of introductory slides about, um, right, the docs Australia, so.

[00:01:01] Tom: [00:01:01] Okay.

[00:01:08] Swapnil: [00:01:08] Okay.

[00:01:12] Right. Okay. So. This is the agenda for today. We've got a slide. Introduce a small introduction and just welcoming our guests for this event. Today we've got Kirk sent Amman talking about. His article that he recently published around the technical communication. Our technical communicators are helping, uh, in this current times.

[00:01:36] And also we've got, Tom Johnson has just recently published a survey, um, around finding out people's, I guess, perceptions of how the tech, how the pandemic has affected their, um. Industry or, or their personal circumstance. And then at the end of that, we, um, we've got a facilitated discussion. Sarah docs will have some questions for our guest today, and then we've got, uh, if you've got any questions for our guests and just generally, you can put them in the chat window, which I think like Sarah pointed out three dots on the right, or actually it's under underwrite upright window.

[00:02:11] Um. Of your window, you'll have a chat functionality if you want to put in your questions. We've got Guarav joining us from Brisbane who will be moderating these questions, and we'll have this as part of the conversation in the latter part of the event. Um, let me just jump back and try and, um,

[00:02:31] Tom: [00:02:31] so

[00:02:31] Swapnil: [00:02:31] presenting, I just want to let, okay.

[00:02:38] There's a few people still trying to get in. Um.

[00:02:53] Okay. So if you haven't been doing a write the docs event before, it's a series of conferences and local meetups focused on all things related to documentation. So it's the, the key word here is documentation sets. People who. Document as part of their, um, um, work. So you don't necessarily have to be a technical writer.

[00:03:12] You could be a developer, a UX designer. It's your passion. It's your belief in the art of documentation, which this whole community is about. Um, like any other event, we've got a code of conduct, friendly and welcoming. They respectful and be careful in the word study you choose. If you believe someone's violating the code of conduct during one of five minutes, please contact a member of the staff.

[00:03:38] Just a quick note on the right, the docs Australia community, we've got about two, 800 members coming up in the last four years. Now. We've had about 45 meetup events across all the major cities, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and also remote events. We've had guests from overseas try and, um, you know, share their experiences and knowledge of technical communication related topics related to technical communication.

[00:04:03] And to our community, we've had already had three new conferences, um, for, right. The docs Australia, and that's, they've been pretty awesome. Really. So, um, that's, that's the community, the write, the docs, Australian community in a nutshell. How do you get involved with right? The dogs, hopefully a lot of you would have probably seen this on the meetup channels or LinkedIn or the Slack.

[00:04:29] The write, the docs leg. There's also the mailing list. You can join the mailing list at, right, the docs.org and there's a whole list of meetups. I happening all over the. Globe as we speak. So feel free to join in. I think most of the events would probably be remote at some stage. So, um, this is your opportunity to join in and contribute to the community.

[00:04:50] Okay. And that's probably me with my slides. I'm just going to quickly introduce, uh, guests for today. Uh, we've got Tom Johnson joining us. He's a. Senior tech writer for Amazon in California. He is best known for his blog. I'd rather be writing, which is one of the largest followings in the technical community, technical communication community.

[00:05:17] He's also created an extensive online API cause that probably has helped millions of people, I would say, right. Technical writers transition into API documentation. And then we've also got Kirk center month, who's joined us from Louisiana, is, um, is in his Williamson chair in the technical communication at Louisiana tech university where it's also member of the university's center for biomedical engineering and rehab science.

[00:05:47] And he also serves as the director of city center for health and medical communication. Um. Some. I'm conscious of the time. So what I'm going to do here is I'm going to switch over to, I'll probably get invite to talk about his article that he recently published, um, around. Our technical communicators can help, um, in this, in these times, and we'll follow that up by Tom Johnson Holton, talk about his survey and some interesting results from the survey.

[00:06:18] So over to you if you want to share your screen, that should be okay. I'm going to go on mute for a second. I'll just let a few more people in. I just. Just in the background. So

[00:06:30] Kirk: [00:06:30] thank you, Scott Miller. Thank you for the chance to speak and for this chance to interact with you all, and hopefully it'll be a discussion more than a monologue.

[00:06:37] Um, very quickly, one of the things that we were noticing here in the United States as covert 19 began to progress was the breakdown of society. Which I think everyone has experienced things from hospitals were being flooded to fistfights were breaking out in supermarkets. Two people had no idea what was going on at work, even when they were showing up.

[00:06:55] And the question became, why are these things happening? And in conversations with individuals, the local level, as well as with colleagues across the country. A weird thing was going on where the protocols we have for how to live life were breaking down. And essentially we didn't have user docs that tell us how to behave in times of a pandemic crisis.

[00:07:15] And the more you research it, you realize that this problem when we've got a lack of user docs and how to behave in a pandemic seems to occur every time there is this kind of crisis, whether it's the Spanish flu of 1918 or the SARS epidemic that happened at the turn of this millennium. These similar patterns, repeat individuals need instruction sets to tell them how to behave.

[00:07:36] And it turns out that when you look at it, the need of these instructions is not random. We need these user docs to cross certain domains to maintain stability. Um, one of the things that's like into is a script and a play. You've been cast for a play and you show up at the theater, but nobody tells you what your role is, what your dialogue is, what props you'll use, or how you get onto our, off the stage panic.

[00:07:59] And Susan, with that panic, you don't know what to do. You need someone to provide you with guidance. It turns out that the user docs we need are instructions that tell us when and how to visit hospitals to seek care, how to engage in self-diagnosis to see, do we need to visit a hospital or to stay away, but then seemingly more banal things that affect everyday life.

[00:08:21] Things as simple as going to the grocery store is a matter of knowing how to plan meals, which is a matter of knowing how to plan shopping. Which is a matter of knowing then what to look for and how to request it. When you get to grocery store, these are all procedures, um, simple things like going out in society to care for individuals who live off site.

[00:08:42] How do we do that safely? Or can we do it with a technological option? What are the options available to us? Well, how do we install them? How do we talk our elderly family members who we need to visit offsite through the process of installing these things? These are all things that technical communicators do every day, and it turns out they're the linchpin factors that if these kinds of user docs are available in advance, they can prevent society from going into panic mode.

[00:09:08] And so there are different procedures that I've been working with, both locally and with other colleagues in the U S to hopefully try to develop to ease things as we go into a state of reopening again, but also to prepare for the next time an event like this takes place. And with that, I'd like to transition over to Tom, who's done a great deal of work on what is actually going on and how it's affecting the field.

[00:09:34] Tom: [00:09:34] Okay. So. I actually received, uh, an email from somebody the other day, actually a month and a half ago, uh, who had experienced layoffs in their company. Um, they. Basically were freaked out. They had five people in their tech pubs group and three suddenly got laid off. Not this person, but they were really quite, quite scared.

[00:09:58] And they started to wonder, you know, w w w we always have to fight for resourcing. We're last priority, you know, um, is our end, you know, just around the corner. And I started wondering, well. What is the impact of the pandemic, specifically on the tech writer, tech writing, sort of, uh, industry on the market, um, specifically, you know, careers and so forth.

[00:10:22] And so I, I created just a simple survey. Nothing super well thought out, but I wanted to just kind of gut check to see what the results are and I'll paste those in the chat. You can check them out. Uh, basically, um. The results were reassuring in terms of like job stability, because only 5% of the people mentioned that they had lost their job due to COBIT.

[00:10:46] Um, but 39%, and by the way, about 250 people took the survey. I didn't promote it that much. It's just sort of the sort of a, I don't know. Caught on a life of its own in terms of responses, 39% of people are working more each day. Um, I find that really interesting and I'll return to that. 39% of people have gained weight.

[00:11:11] 28% have taken up a new hobby. A 13% have either been furloughed or had their salary reduced. 39% had open headcount reduced or cut. 48% experience better audio in meetings, you can hear people, uh, 11% are creating more content for self-serve scenarios. 37% have seen, uh, an increase in traffic on their dock site site.

[00:11:40] 32% say it's easier to find information because the online footprints are larger. 16% say their budget for online training has been reduced or cut. In response to the question, how will the pandemic impact tech comm in the longterm, which is more speculative? 48% say that work from home will be more acceptable.

[00:12:04] 18% say the job market will be more competitive. 11% say that there will be an increased demand for tech writers due to cut backs on call centers and other live support, and 14% say. There will be more focus on projects related to media, gaming, meditation, online commerce, and other areas. Thriving in the now.

[00:12:29] The nice thing about this survey, uh, and the sort of reassuring part is to see that only 5% have lost their jobs, at least so far. Right? Who knows what's to come. So that sort of allays the, the initial fears that this person who reached out to me, you know, our layoffs going to be tremendous and huge and.

[00:12:49] At least across the industry, 5% isn't nearly the, the, uh, equivalent to the other levels. Um, but I, I do have some thoughts on, um, the increased amount that people are working, cause I find this to be the most interesting with 39% of people saying that they're working more, you know, why is it, I mean, we, we suddenly don't have to commute to work.

[00:13:15] All the events that we'd normally have canceled, right? No, no soccer practice, no PTA meetings or whatever. Uh, so why are we working more? Well, I think there are several reasons. One is that it gives us a sense of normalcy. Work is a kind of. The one thing we can do that we know is a common, consistent part of our attempt to reclaim normalcy.

[00:13:42] Um, so it gives some focus and meaning maybe there's a fear of job security. You want to make sure that you're present and doing a great job so that you're not laid off. Um, I also think that because the online footprint is larger. It's easier for people to include you in email threads, to include you in online meetings, to add you as to mention you in a document or some ticket, and so you just sort of get pulled into all these different directions that before, when we were more grouped physically, it was less common, right?

[00:14:17] People were always complaining, Oh, I wasn't in that meeting, or I didn't hear about that. Well, now you do hear about all that and it's suddenly like. Pulls you real. It stretches you thin. Right? Um.

[00:14:31] There probably probably some other reasons, you know, but, uh, and, and who knows? Like the sense of time is all distorted. Um, I don't think people are meticulously logging their time. Uh, so, you know, with a more flexible schedule, how do you really even know that you're working more? Um, it's kind of hard to say, but in general, um, I do think people are in fact working more.

[00:14:55] Um, all right. So that's basically my, my main comment. And, uh, we save the rest for other discussion points.

[00:15:07] I'll turn it back to swap now.

[00:15:10] Swapnil: [00:15:10] Thank you. Um, thanks. Thanks, Don. Thanks, Kirk. Um, so that's, that's really interesting when the terms of patterns and what we would be currently trying to do. So I think we've got, Sarah Maddox has got a few questions that she'll try and facilitate between you and have some sort of a discussion.

[00:15:28] So up to you, Sarah.

[00:15:29] Sarah: [00:15:29] Yes. Thanks, rod Miller. Hi. Um, thanks. Both Tom and Kirk, those are super interesting presentations and articles. I found that results very, very interesting. Um, what I'd like to do is start off with a few specific

[00:15:44] questions. We'll start off with one for Kirk

[00:15:46] and then went for Tom, and then we'll have some more questions that are kind of more discursive amongst the two, between the two of you.

[00:15:54] So

[00:15:54] starting off with Kirk.

[00:15:57] Um, thanks for that excellent article on the role of communication professionals, independent MC. What I'm wondering is, have you received any indication of support from any tech com or government organizations and leading on from that, are there

[00:16:13] any resulting thoughts

[00:16:14] Tom: [00:16:14] on taking this debt strategies through to implementation?

[00:16:20] Kirk: [00:16:20] Um, great questions. Thank you, Sarah. Uh, what's been interesting is since I've written about this, the folks who've reached out to ask me about how do we move to the next stages of post pandemic, um, again, we're back to, there's no user guide for that. How do we go about doing this to maintain social distancing?

[00:16:39] One of the comments that came through in Tom's survey was someone said, we're probably going to default to the way we used to do things. Because it's just reflexive for us. And I think we're seeing individuals say, we can't let that happen yet because it will cause a resurgence of an infection. And so I've been contacted more recently by the Louisiana department of public health to chat with them about how do we create workshops that are communication based, that look at how do we create the communication protocols that tell individuals how to do everything from congregate and parking lots.

[00:17:14] To enter buildings, to move through hallways, to sit in meeting spaces. Um, I'll be teaching a course this summer for different high schools in the state of Louisiana where myself and some colleagues who work in communication have been asked, can you help us come up with protocols for how to return to schools?

[00:17:31] But what's been interesting about that is they realize an expertise that you've seen technical communication in terms of audience and the generation of user docs because they don't want us to develop the protocols for them. They want us to work with their students who are going to be the actual users of these materials to figure out what should these protocols and procedures be.

[00:17:53] And the idea is not only to help the students develop these protocols, these user docs, but to teach them how to use or test them. And to engage in kind of the overall process. So if you will, we're seeing tech con become part of the high school curriculum in some ways. So that's been just kind of fun and interesting followups to these kinds of things.

[00:18:13] Um, in terms of implementation, both of the things I've talked about, ideally over the course of the summer, we're going to see come to fruition. Where something will come out of them. I think ideally it will be working with these entities, with folks like yourselves, um, with other technical communicators in the field to figure out how can we come up with strategies for dealing with this in the future.

[00:18:35] And, uh, that's basically best practices. We can't come up with the end results, but we can come up with the best practices for understanding the situation and for addressing it through what we do. But that recognition has been very, very nice.

[00:18:49] Sarah: [00:18:49] Thank you. Thank you. That is super cool. I'm really pleased to hear that the state of Louisiana is so forward thinking.

[00:18:56] That's, that's really nice to hear. Um, just a reminder to, to everyone on this call, if you hear something that Kirk says, or Tom says, that kind of triggers a question in your mind or an idea, put it into the chat because Gorav is monitoring the chat and he will pick up those questions and ask them in the next section

[00:19:16] of this

[00:19:17] call.

[00:19:18] Alrighty, so Tom,

[00:19:20] one for you. Um, yeah, thanks for an amazing set of statistics

[00:19:24] that you read are just recently from people in our industry.

[00:19:28] So my overall impression from kind of looking down the growth

[00:19:33] and

[00:19:33] the survey results is. Not much

[00:19:36] has changed. Is that a correct impression, would you say? Well, yeah. I mean, in some ways I think that does seem like the impression, right?

[00:19:46] Tom: [00:19:46] We go to work as usual at home and we still have our projects. It's just a different mode, but at the same time. Everything has changed. Right. Um, and I think some of these percentages may not seem, may not jump out at us as being that huge, but I do think they, they paint a story of kind of what's happening.

[00:20:08] Um, especially that percentage about people working more, 39% of people reporting that they're working more. Uh, I think the trend is that we're going to, we're going to experience increased. Um, drain on our own bandwidth, right? That people need docs for self service scenarios more than before you pulled in more directions, being pulled in more meetings and more threads and more, more tickets and discussions.

[00:20:33] No one's taking vacations, right? So people are just working full, full throttle. You've got people in different time zones that can communicate. All at any time. Right. And you know, how often do you turn off your, your chat and your email? Um, at the same time of having this increased workload, we also see. A decrease in resourcing.

[00:20:55] People saying that, that they're open head counts are cut. I'm sure that even if they haven't lost their jobs, they're probably having hiring freezes. And so we're going to have to figure out how to do more with less. Right. We've always had this, but now I think it's turned up a notch. How do you clone yourself?

[00:21:12] Um, because of course you want to always. Uh, you don't want to Slack off, especially now. Right. Um, so that challenge will potentially cause some shift in the way we work. Maybe when people request documentation, we'll put the burden back on them to create the content and we'll act more as editors and publishers.

[00:21:34] Maybe that's what we're already doing. Maybe you have a different role, but I know that, um, in my work, we work with a lot of. Different engineering groups, and sometimes I read the content, sometimes we write the content, but I kind of see myself moving more towards this model of being the editor and the gatekeeper and the standards bearer and so forth and publishing and orchestrating that rather than writing their content, which is the hard bar.

[00:22:02] Really. Um, so anyway, maybe have other strategies, maybe you see different. Insights into this. But, uh, that's kinda how I, I read the trends there. Okay. Yeah. Super cool. Thanks. Um, I posted a question in the chat where to go around and ask you afterwards as well. Um, actually it's for both of you. Um, so my next question is for both of you, but we'll start with Kirk and then Tom can perhaps respond.

[00:22:31] So looking at Tom's survey, um, there are several interesting data. Pediments Thomas already mentioned quite a few. Um, Koch does any pattern in particular strike you.

[00:22:44] Kirk: [00:22:44] Um, three rare things about Tom's data and the comments, comments that he received on it that I think are surprising. I mean, most of his data falls into two brute force categories.

[00:22:54] We are drastically rethinking the nature of work and we're drastically rethinking the nature of the work today. Something is going on that's causing us to restructure how we think about work day and work week and what does that mean in terms of how we'll perceive of that moving forward. Um, the other thing is the amazing stability, even though there were cuts of the job market for tech comm, given that when you read many of the financials out there, tech comm is often lumped in with the series of skillsets that might be seen as being washed away or supplanted by AI.

[00:23:25] And yet it remains strong. Not only did it remain strong, but when you look at some of the comments that Tom survey produced, technical documentation departments took the place of AI. That is the rules that were thought would be supplanted by AI, um, call centers, project management, to some extent, user testing.

[00:23:44] A number of comments noted that we've taken that on now. And so the question becomes the uptick in work that pokes. Reported is that because we're assuming roles that we will continue to fulfill in the future and that maybe will no longer be seen as a skill set that can be replaced by a piece of technology or an algorithm, but a crucial creation mechanism, as Tom pointed out, where the editing factor that we can bring to existing content, is that something that will change the nature of our value moving forward?

[00:24:13] So those are things I'm really interested in seeing what happens in relation to moving forward. That missing piece that wasn't reported. The great AI wave that was supposed to shift our field drastically didn't happen.

[00:24:28] Tom: [00:24:28] Uh, yeah. No, I, I think that, I mean, that's very encouraging, right? To, to not just be the first, um, kind of tear snipped away by AI or by other factors. I think it is reassuring. Um, I also think there's another, another element. Um. To job security, and that's when you're the only sort of person who knows the author and publishing tools and system and process.

[00:24:53] It seems a lot more risky for companies to get rid of that function. Of course, if you have a team of 20 or 30 writers or even five to 10, it's a lot easier. Right? But, uh, by and large, in another surrendered like 34% of dev doc writers are loan writers. Right? So, um, in some ways of your loan. Possessor, possessor of knowledge about publishing in your company is kind of a critical, a critical skill that you bring.

[00:25:29] great. Okay. Thanks Tom. Um, so here's another question for both of you. We'll start with Tom. So what was your favorite response in the kind of free comment sharing part of the survey? Uh, yeah, I think there were a lot of great comments actually. And part of the reason I wanted to do the survey is because I feel like, um, my blog has visibility and so I can tap into like collective wisdom from the community and, uh, whatever I want to know, like I can plug into people's minds and it's quite amazing.

[00:26:06] Um. One of, one of the persons said that this is the great equalizer for remote workers. I think that's dead on, right? If you are a remote worker in the past, you were often overlooked, not included. You know, now you're just one of the right on a level playing field. And I know there are many people who are very excited about working from home because they've been doing it or they've wanted to do it.

[00:26:29] So this is really like proving it out. Um, another person said that, well, they said that. In their company. The projects are just increasing because no one is taking vacations. And I see you also put a comment about, you know, is that gonna uh, escalate stress levels? I think for sure, like burnout, stress, these, this is inevitable, right?

[00:26:50] Today actually was feeling burned out and stress. I was like, man, I had a. I had, uh, taken an early morning bike ride, following the same route I'd used to take and then going to the park and has all these memories came back to me and I was like, man, so much has changed. Another person mentioned that, that, um, you know, this.

[00:27:11] Pandemic hits people who have small children a lot harder than others because now you've suddenly got to do your work full time while taking care of your children or not. Right? My kid has watched so much Garfield and I feel bad about it, right? But what do I, what do you do? Um, cause the workload's increasing and now summer is going to hit, which is going to make it even worse.

[00:27:31] Right? But just the whole disruption of the family life has been been huge. It's been, uh. For me the hardest. Right. Although if people don't have family, maybe, maybe there's a whole other set of challenges around a solitude and isolation. Sorry. Anyway, those, those are just a few of the comments. A lot of people left other comments and, um, you know, uh, somebody else just asked, what happens if you do the survey in a month or two from now?

[00:27:58] And yeah, hopefully things will change in maybe for the, for the better or for the worse, who knows? But, uh, it is interesting to sort of gauge what exactly is the, at least the job loss rate, right? That's kind of a, probably the main one. Um, and to see where that needle is falling.

[00:28:21] Good. How about you keg? Did you share the same favorite comment as tone? Would you have a different line?

[00:28:27] Kirk: [00:28:27] Again, my favorites are with, with Tom on the homeschooling comments or the, you know, our Workday changing is one thing. Their Workday changing is a whole different thing. Um, and. First of all, I'm wondering all the people who, the 11% who reported they're doing projects on the side, are they creating education or that they're not going to start marketing because they're real?

[00:28:45] There'll be a huge market for quality home, home education products, because I can see that happening. Um, but the other weird thing is, as someone who does home school and our children do homeschool, you become this repository where your time is taken up by everybody asking you, can we borrow this? Can we borrow?

[00:29:00] It's like the neighbor who keeps coming over to borrow your ladder. And so can we use this? Can we use this? And you're right. Eventually a friend says, why aren't you selling this? And you go, so it'll be curious to see, I mean, the expertise is in our field to do these kinds of things and you use different technologies to do it.

[00:29:18] Is a technical communicator going to restructure the education market by realizing people are now aware of this market? Let's go for it. Um, that Tom, the 11%, excuse me, the 40% of people who gained weight, man, that is a home healthcare plan market waiting to happen. I'm waiting for someone to tap that because as a middle aged guy in fair shape, you get on the YouTube and it's all designed for 20 year old people who can get that beach body in two weeks.

[00:29:42] I want something for the 50 year old guy who just doesn't want to, you know, lose 10 pounds. I want to be able to get up every morning. So I want to see, that's a perspective thing to emerge that I think we can tap into. So I'm waiting for those to happen. Elon Musk's got nothing on us. We can take this.

[00:29:58] Sarah: [00:29:58] Absolutely tech can take over the world.

[00:30:02] So just to finish off this section, we have a few minutes left. I'd like to ask a question that Tom actually proposed. Um, and I'll ask you to both of you. So. Given that, you know, we're working more each day, or at least a fairly large proportion of us are, what are some of the things that technical writers may be neglecting?

[00:30:23] So if you're working more, are you missing out on being with your family? Um, Kirk already mentioned that you may be

[00:30:31] missing out on dieting or more healthy pursuits.

[00:30:34] What are we missing out on. Ask Tom first. Well, I think, uh, at least on the API doc space, if you want to stay marketable, you have to really devote some time each day to learning something, right?

[00:30:50] Tom: [00:30:50] If you just never, never go through any course or, or technical, uh, tutorial or whatever your skills, Dole, uh, but carving out that time. One hour a day or something is really difficult. Um, and I think that, at least in my, in my time, has been the first thing to slip, but that's sort of the very thing that keeps you marketable, right?

[00:31:14] If you, if you suddenly lose your job and you're back on the market, uh, employers are gonna want to go into, want to know how technical are you? Uh, are you going to be able to understand our products and our technology? And if you say, yes, well, what proof do you have? And you point to other things, you know, so that neglect is, is huge.

[00:31:34] Of course, the family one as well. But, uh, just focusing on more of the tech comm career, um, I really think we can fall into this trap of just like trying to write and respond to all these, you know, tickets without actually furthering and deepening our learning and knowledge, which is, um, essential. Hmm.

[00:31:56] That's a very good one here. Thanks, Todd. How about you? Cake?

[00:32:01] Kirk: [00:32:01] Um, for me, I think it's thinking about. Making a shift where central figures and management now where this kind of massive work shift from onsite offsite only happens if you've got the structural, the informational structure in place, the tech docs in place, the procedures in place to make such a move seamlessly.

[00:32:20] And I think for many of us, we've seen organizations stumble through that. And the realization that we can't do this again. The losses were catastrophic. And we need people who understand these procedures to create the documentation, the protocols, oversee the transition by knowing what is going on, knowing these procedures.

[00:32:39] So I think it's a chance to talk about renegotiating value and what role technical communicators have in the value of organizations in managing processes, overall production processes, not just documentation. Once. Because now I think the world's acutely aware that communication is key to success and how can we maximize this point in time to move forward in that role.

[00:33:04] Sarah: [00:33:04] Super cool. Technical communicators as tech com evangelists, basically. Yeah. In fact,

[00:33:12] Kirk: [00:33:12] can we go with Buddhist monks instead?

[00:33:16] Sarah: [00:33:16] Yeah. We're, um, we're a little bit like a marketing team and that marketing teams are uniquely set up to

[00:33:21] market themselves,

[00:33:22] and we're uniquely set up to describe our value. So yeah.

[00:33:27] Kirk: [00:33:27] What, forgive me, I'm going to be intrusive. I'd ask a question to the group. I mean, how many people here had someone outside their division ask them to explain a process to them or ask them to generate some sort of documentation on the fly to how to do something? Oh, see all these heads nodding. I think, think about that.

[00:33:44] It's, it's kinda like, you know, we joke about I'm doing your job for you, but suddenly we're, this is a very crucial skillset and I think it's a moment of realization. How do we maximize that?

[00:33:56] Sarah: [00:33:56] Super cool. All right. I'm gonna have to lead the public

[00:34:00] Gaurav: [00:34:00] discussion. Thank you, Sarah. Um, we have few questions from the chart, uh, before I ask those ones, I had, uh, my own two questions, uh, for each of you, Kirk and talk.

[00:34:16] So my first question to Kirk, um, um. Most of it you have already covered, but answering Sarah's question, it's related to the implementation. Um, can any of us help or is like, do we have already planned slate out on how to, uh, like put together, uh, these resources you're talking about and, uh, like will it be.

[00:34:47] X is available for everyone, like on GitHub or open source thing where everyone can contribute your thoughts

[00:34:55] Kirk: [00:34:55] about that. Um, great question. I had not planned it, but I think that's a wonderful idea. Um, I mean, pretty much what I tried to put together was a loose set of guidelines that anybody in technical communication could take a look at and say, I can do this.

[00:35:09] Um, the biggest thing is awareness raising. A lot of these problems break down at the local level where we live and most of the documentation folks are using the design at the national level. And in many ways we become that bridge, whether it's our employer or the local school system with a local healthcare facility, they need us to let them know what they need.

[00:35:31] And to help them develop those systems. So back to Sarah's comment about technical communicators as evangelists. I think that's the big kind of takeaway, making communities aware of what it is that we do and how to value it so that whenever a child goes to a career night and someone says, would you like to be a technical communicator?

[00:35:48] You don't have to spend 20 minutes, you know, draw a diagram so that you know what that means. They realize the importance of it because they've seen it

[00:36:03] Gaurav: [00:36:03] Well, I definitely would want to, uh, I'd say like, not everyone is, uh, so like, outgoing and, uh, being an evangelist and talking to people about, uh, uh, uh. Like showing the value. If, uh, if something comes up and easily accessible or have people to take on available on GitHub and contribute, it will be really helpful.

[00:36:34] So, yeah. And, uh, to Tom, um, do you want to reopen the survey again and like, just, uh, because. You mentioned that only two 50 people, uh, responded to the survey. Do we want to like do it again and probably advertise it more so that more people can respond and get better numbers?

[00:37:01] Tom: [00:37:01] You know, I'm, I'm pretty whimsical when it comes to surveys.

[00:37:04] I know that, um, yeah, it would be nice to have a baseline and to, to do more in depth. Actually, I think 250 is, is fine. I mean, when you, uh, do UX stuff, Jared. Oh, what's his name? Uh, pool, whatever. He says, all you need is four to five people to get. Uh, uh, an 80% accurate response or something. Right? So I think that, thank you spool.

[00:37:28] Um, I think, eh, even if you have 50 to a hundred, it's probably fine because I, you start to see the percentages don't really change after you get to a certain amount. Um, and it's probably skewed because I just promote it to my blog and Twitter and so forth and LinkedIn. But, uh. I like to just do surveys about things I'm interested in.

[00:37:50] So I've probably changed my interest in a couple of months. Um, I know that academics are much more trained to do better and more well thought out and proven surveys that can actually be data you can build on. Uh, I was just trying to do like a gut check, you know, um, trying to catch the pulse of something in the moment, which may be completely different in two months.

[00:38:11] So,

[00:38:15] Gaurav: [00:38:15] yeah, that makes sense. Thank you. Okay. Taking on questions from chat now. Mmm.

[00:38:28] So, uh, you already talked about stress levels. Uh, do you have any pointers on how we can help produce that? Um. And can you do to,

[00:38:40] Tom: [00:38:40] well, I, I've, uh, I don't necessarily have pointers about reducing stress, but I will note that, um, the part of Amazon that I work at is the devices organization like fire, TV, fire tablets.

[00:38:55] So you kind of get a sense of like what apps people are using. And like, meditation apps are very popular as well as, uh, like beach body apps, right? Exercise and, uh, even like ABC mouse type stuff, educational apps, you know, people are reading more on Kindle. The use of devices has gone, has gone way up because, uh, media is a form of comfort and, uh, and distraction, right?

[00:39:25] Um, I don't think the methods for reducing stress are any different from all the wisdom you've heard from other sources. So I don't have any particular insight there, but I do like, I like Kirk's, uh, th the post covert essay about rewriting the scripts in your head because I think that's really the challenge.

[00:39:46] Like. You know, I have certain scripts in my head about how life should be and about how I want to go about it. And this, this time is so difficult because we're re reconfiguring those scripts. We're rewriting them. And I don't really like the new version. I don't like the new draft. Right? So I'm trying to figure out how I can rewrite that script in a way that makes it more fun.

[00:40:05] Um, but, but I haven't, I haven't really thought beyond that to, to actually arrive at that. Um.

[00:40:15] Gaurav: [00:40:15] Any pointers from you, Kirk?

[00:40:18] Kirk: [00:40:18] Um, I'm one of the people who downloaded 10 versions of Tom's meditation app. Um, so I, I'm big on that, but, um, one thing I think as a YouTube geek, as I think of your, to figure that out, what's interesting is watching the trends in three areas that have really taken off, um, teach yourself Taoism.

[00:40:37] Teach yourself Zen and the self-styled, stoic, you know, these kinds of three areas, but all things that you have little control over to the external environment live in the now. Um, I'm curious to see how that mindset affects things moving forward and many of the things that Tom has talked about in terms of this worldview, we take on things.

[00:40:57] How do we think about work childcare. Thinking about life moving forward, will we take that more kind of Zen live in the moment? Let's think about what's going on approach, or will it be more back to the nine to five routine again? Will the sub-routine kick in and we just keep going? Um, I'm with Tom. I don't want to rewrite.

[00:41:15] I'd like to think or re repeat it, like to rewrite and what's the best way to do that collectively that makes it successful?

[00:41:29] Gaurav: [00:41:29] So if you had one more question regarding the survey, and it's mostly about, what are your thoughts on session of covered situation on job? Um, a few months after now. So like Tom already said, I think, um, he probably won't do another survey right now, but, uh, yeah, maybe. Yeah.

[00:41:55] Tom: [00:41:55] No, I mean, who knows, right. In, in my mind, that's the biggest fear is like this huge, huge laugh.

[00:42:02] But I think in any market, we, we risk being laid off and the same strategies you would use to, to maintain yourself as marketable seemed equally apply. Um, so, you know, keeping your, your skills skillset sharp, uh, deepening your knowledge. Getting together portfolio, you know, all this stuff is, is always good.

[00:42:28] And, and, and hopefully you wouldn't have to use it, but then you would, you would already have it. I'm sorry, I don't really have any insight there. I'm trying to just stick with, you know, the, the survey said right now, 5% of people have lost their job. I, you don't want to hear me speculate. I have no, no insight more than anybody else.

[00:42:49] Gaurav: [00:42:49] Yup. Um. People also reported that, uh Hmm. In addition to, uh, like more emails and more, uh, then roped into other things, uh, grant work, uh, it also increased. I'm

[00:43:07] Tom: [00:43:07] kind of curious about that. W w what do you mean grunt work increased? Like suddenly.

[00:43:12] Gaurav: [00:43:12] Yeah. So someone said, I've found the opposite just this week.

[00:43:16] Two projects that I haven't been involved in are being put to me to own and provide the grant work. So it's probably more like paper are getting more things too, but nobody else wants to do. I

[00:43:31] Sarah: [00:43:31] guess. I think, um, if the person who put that comment in, if you do want to unmute yourself and say something that's, that would be fine as well.

[00:43:39] If you, if you don't want to, that's also

[00:43:41] Kirk: [00:43:41] great.

[00:43:42] Audience: [00:43:42] I'm more than happy to, I'm

[00:43:44] sorry.

[00:43:46] Um, yeah, so that was me. Um. Basically, there's been a bunch of meetings that I met about

[00:43:51] these suit projects that

[00:43:53] I had an idea were being worked on, but I wasn't involved in any of those sort of planning and set up and stuff.

[00:43:59] And now they've been sort of handed to me and was like, Hey, now you're going to own these projects. Um, and uh, yeah. It's just happened that two of them were this week. And I'm like, well, kind of,

[00:44:10] Hey, how

[00:44:10] come I wasn't involved in the meeting? I've got these sort of, this sort of clarification on this and, you know, um, you know, how am I supposed to do, do that?

[00:44:19] And then it's

[00:44:19] just

[00:44:20] a, yeah, it's kind of

[00:44:23] kind

[00:44:23] of given me a bit of frustration in, uh, in that I've been left out of these, uh, sort of planning meetings and discussions about how it's all gonna work. And, uh, I've just been told, Hey, this is yours now. I think that scenario might become more common, even if tech comm doesn't experience tremendous layoffs.

[00:44:42] If people around other parts of the company are laid off, then the work comes to somebody, right? If you've ever had a teammate, like leave your team. You know, that that means more work for you, right? Uh, until you can backfill a position and, uh, maybe this is a chance to broaden your skillset. Now you're doing project management, it looks like.

[00:45:04] Um, uh, yeah, it's, it's funny you mentioned that because I would used to be a team of three, and now I'm a Lorne writer. Um, but, uh, I did mention it in another comment. I'm in the eCommerce industry and everything like this. The whole isolation and covert situation has been a massive boon for. Our customers in e-commerce because everyone's buying online now.

[00:45:29] So, so we're doing, we're doing great.

[00:45:33] Um,

[00:45:34] but, uh, yeah, it's, it's sort of, um, transitioning more into a bit bit more marketing and, uh, and it's sort of customer support style, uh, projects is where they've, where they've sort of landed that, that, um, brings up, or like a related point. Somebody else was asking.

[00:45:52] Um. On one of the questions, I was really curious to know if like tech comm would experience a boom of boon. Kinda like some of these other companies, right? If you're, you make hand sanitizer or you make other popular products, you have e-commerce, your door dash you suddenly like skyrocketing, right? And I wondered, well, with everybody going online and interacting and needing information and call centers closing and people having to just like.

[00:46:20] Get information from online sources is tech com undergoing a boon like that? Are we just like exploding in demand? Uh, but didn't really see that. So, um, uh, I think a lot of, you know, the content that needs to be written is just going to be written by lots of different people. Um, not necessarily technical communicators can just grow them on trees.

[00:46:42] But, uh, uh, I mean that's part of the reason I wanted to do the survey cause I wasn't sure if like. Yeah, it was going to be great for tech comm or bad for tech comm or it looks like maybe a little bit about, I don't know.

[00:46:57] Gaurav: [00:46:57] Yeah, thanks to Curtis for a clarifying. Thanks for that question. Mmm, Mmm. Next question is to both of you, any thoughts on how the pandemic may have affected the open source community?

[00:47:13] Um, any idea. Or anyone in the audience.

[00:47:21] Kirk: [00:47:21] I mean, one thing for someone from the education side of things, or you know, public education, open sources, kind of a godsend right now in terms of, we don't have the technology to do X in the classroom. We need to know how to do it. We can't pay for it. Is there an opensource option out there?

[00:47:39] So not only the interest in, can we use it, but can we play with it. And so I think that ideally open source could be a mechanism through which you see more integrated activity between industry and education to try to figure out how to work together. Cause we've each got different parts of the puzzle.

[00:47:57] So I'm curious to see how that evolves over time

[00:48:02] Audience: [00:48:02] from the open source community and have been working with it. 10 years or so. And the communities I've been working with have been very volunteer based and so consequently, and the distributor working is, um, is core to what is happening. And so I don't actually see much change with regards to the practice of how people are working.

[00:48:28] But. It's a community that has a whole lot of processes that are right, ready to be copied and duplicated and used. The other thing that I'm finding is that, um, within this open source community, w we, we have things that we can take forward and, um, and, and push out and help us with.

[00:49:03] Sure.

[00:49:04] Thanks Cameron. So, uh, have you noticed any like, uh, contributions or opensource contribution at like an increase in volume or anything like that? Uh, I haven't noticed and I

[00:49:17] Gaurav: [00:49:17] actually am not in a position to notice,

[00:49:19] Audience: [00:49:19] but what I, I have no,

[00:49:21] what

[00:49:22] I.

[00:49:23] And noticing is that people who are volunteers,

[00:49:27] um,

[00:49:28] only spend time when they have spare time on the open source community.

[00:49:32] And I have seen a few people who've had to step back a bit because of their other commitments.

[00:49:38] Um, I'm not,

[00:49:40] so it's

[00:49:41] possible that there has been

[00:49:42] Tom: [00:49:42] a

[00:49:42] Audience: [00:49:42] cutback,

[00:49:43] but I tend to find that those sorts of things bounce around a lot. There's a lot of noise in the opensource community as people come in and out with the projects that they're working on.

[00:49:55] Hey Gorav can I, can I ask a question? I'm just kind of looking at the chat and I see we have Andrew Davis with us and he, I know he really has a good feel for like the job market for tech writers in the Bay area and elsewhere. I'm wondering maybe if he could speak to trends he's seeing in the job market, at least in the Bay area.

[00:50:13] Is that a, is it, you mentioned strong demand persisting. W what do you, what trends do you see, Andrew, do you mind? Uh. Jumping in

[00:50:27] you got got to unmute if you do. Sorry to put you on the spot.

[00:50:40] she's trying to unmute himself. I think if you just click in the main area, you should see like a little toolbar appear in the bottom of the screen.

[00:50:48] Yeah,

[00:50:49] Tom: [00:50:49] yeah. Uh, yeah,

[00:50:55] I think you're unmuted.

[00:51:04] Well, if he figures that out, that'd be great. If not, uh. You know, just looking at his comments seems it seems to suggest that, um, there's still a strong demand persisting and maybe companies are more open to, to remote workers. I mean, that that would be the longterm trend. That would be the most fascinating if company companies flip the switch and really allow longterm remote.

[00:51:25] I know that. Uh, a couple of companies, Twitter, Facebook seem to already suggest they're allowing permanent remote, but with reduced salary or whatever. Uh, so I mean that that would change the workforce for substantially. I know that I would certainly move out of this area, move just much more livable and inexpensive area.

[00:51:45] Um. I'm not necessarily one who wants to work from home, but I know a lot of people who do work from home because of whatever situation they're in. Uh, it would be a real boon to then them because they would be much more marketable. They wouldn't be that, that exception that lives way out in the, uh, in the middle of nowhere that, you know, has to qualify for a virtual position.

[00:52:05] But, uh, that'll be an interesting trend to see. And maybe in a couple of months I'll, or actually you wouldn't even need to do a survey. You could just look at company. Policy is to find out if that, if that sort of spreads. Um, yeah. Okay. Andrew says the Bay area isn't slowing down at all. Some have frozen near term, but all want to hire and we'll will as soon as they can secure budgets.

[00:52:30] So that's definitely good. And I trust his judgment. He certainly knows like most of the companies in this area. Uh, of course. That's not Australia, but anyway,

[00:52:47] Gaurav: [00:52:47] so we have a lot of questions about how will the pandemic and tech tech communications in longterm, um, can I share your thoughts?

[00:52:58] Tom: [00:52:58] Well, I think, uh, I think we're going to see an uptick in, in self-serve type scenarios, right? Um, more. Better search, better findability of information. Um, I know that personally I've been checking out Algolia lately.

[00:53:15] I want to integrate a much better search into my documentation. And I think, uh, there are a lot of, there are a lot of like doc tools and others that, that, um, have better built in search and find stability. But I think that long term, um, I think that will definitely be a trend. And. But yeah. I don't know.

[00:53:36] Does anybody else have any thoughts and insights on on that?

[00:53:52] Gaurav: [00:53:52] I think like we previously discussed that like now that we are in like being involved in two more. Um, more things to do and more projects maybe, uh, yeah, will come out better as, as evangelists.

[00:54:15] Um, I'm just filtering to the chat.

[00:54:31] Um, there are some comments. Sorry. I'm like the Chapman to disclosing. I reappointed and the scroll has went off. I'm just trying to, it

[00:54:51] so a question for Kirk. What level of, uh, documents related to Ben dumbing? Were you referring to that as needed? For example, uh, like for an individual company or a country or state or like we have made a global documentation set.

[00:55:11] Kirk: [00:55:11] Um, great question. Yeah. I mean, ideally all of the above, but the real, the reality of it is at the local level, um, not just within industries themselves, but the communities that industries are a part of.

[00:55:24] Most of our national government have come up with some sort of protocol in the United States is the CDC, and it's done at a very abstract. High level, it gets distributed down to the next level of government and it's adapted for that level. But at some point it stops and it still remains in the abstract.

[00:55:40] This is what you can do in theory with no one taking the last step to say at the local, on the ground, pragmatic level, what do we actually need? Who was our actual end user? What are they actually trying to do? And it's at that level where there's, I think the greatest need. For any kind of documentation that tells people what to do, how to monitor their health, how to check on their health, how to check on others, how to help others download needed technologies.

[00:56:09] Um, you know, Curtis and Tom mentioned shopping online. That's great if you fall within a certain demographic. But for folks like my father's generation, I'm thinking of to whom that's completely new and are dependent upon adult children to help them. That's a very different animal to train for. Um, and so that becomes a challenge area.

[00:56:28] So those local level concerns that are quite often left for somebody to pick up or an area that we're desperately needed in. And that's kind of where I get into this was at that local level. We don't know how to do this. What do we

[00:56:41] do?

[00:56:50] Gaurav: [00:56:50] okay.

[00:56:53] Question to Tom that because you mentioned learning and like how we need to keep learning new things, so about missing out on technical education due to working longer. What strategies can we use within a workplace to get those extra knowledge. Um, and he told us,

[00:57:15] Tom: [00:57:15] well, one strategy that somebody recommended in another discussion was to look for learning opportunities within your own company.

[00:57:24] Yeah. This is especially common in larger companies. They might have your own engineering excellence group that has, uh, other training. That way you'll feel a little more connected to your workplace. Now, it's not as if you're often left field, uh, on some other. Site, you know, doing something completely unrelated to work.

[00:57:45] But yeah, if you can take advantage of any resources at your work, that's great. Or just try to find, um, something related to a project you're working on so that it's much more relevant. Um, I, I think there's also just a need to not feel as if we have to go at a breakneck pace and to push back on the, um.

[00:58:09] I get this, what do you call it? I'm feeling like I have to be ever present and as soon as somebody cha, uh, chats with me, we use chime. Uh, so many, as soon as somebody emails me, you know, people almost expect immediate response and that completely fragments any kind of focus, right? If, if every time you get into something, somebody starts a chat with you and pulls you into some different direction, you're never going to get.

[00:58:36] Much flow. Right? So that is very difficult right now to somehow turn off the instant chat, because it's almost like you're, you're sort of become invisible to people. And it's, it's weird if you're offline or if you have a do not disturb notice. Um, but honestly, there, there's, uh, it's like, it has to be done, um, if you want to, to find that time.

[00:59:00] So,

[00:59:04] Gaurav: [00:59:04] um. I'm just going to quickly jump in here kind of more of a comment than a question for Kirk. I think as part of our user research, um, workshop couple of days this week, and I think a lot of. Participants in the user research course, um, mentioned how trustworthy or how information on different websites are.

[00:59:30] All right, let me, let me start over again. What you're trying to do was we were trying to interview each other in terms of what sources do we go to to find out information and how trustworthy these websites or these sources are. And I think that's where the communication that we create produce, I guess it is.

[00:59:49] Uh, important because why would someone come to visit your website? Like if it's a government website, but it's still, the information is not updated regularly or something. Why would they even come to your website? They read the newspaper side that, you know, the, the different, it's pulling different resources.

[01:00:05] It's like I said, it's more of a comment, but, um, Kirk, do you see something like that happening to like it in terms of where we contribute to makes, makes for more

[01:00:16] Kirk: [01:00:16] impact? Um, great question. I mean, government officials are SMEs for the most part. They speak their own technical language and they need someone to provide them with plain language training, if you will, or to create technical docs that helps them interact with society.

[01:00:32] And so I think it's a matter of helping individuals realize that. Tech docs are from more than just hardware or software. They're for life. Where that every interaction you have that is outside of a certain group of people with a certain kind of knowledge is nontransferable. You need someone that's got an expertise and understanding audience.

[01:00:51] Content, content delivery, user assessment, those kinds of things to help them understand how to convey ideas. That's going to be the key to it. So you mentioned credibility. If you look at many organizations, they dump a lot of time and effort into the visual side of things, which is grant. But at the end of the day, you and I need some sort of text to tell us what to do with those visuals.

[01:01:15] And that's something that often is left until the last minute, but it's the single most important part. And so when I mentioned like agencies asking to collaborate, a lot of it is about language. How do we fine tune the language of things for an audience to understand it? And I, again, I think it's the key credibility comes down to, do you speak in my voice in a way I understand and that I trust you based on how you talk to me.

[01:01:40] That's something that only folks with our expertise can really master and work with to give credibility to different organizations. And I think this situation has made lots of agencies acutely aware of that factor.

[01:01:53] Gaurav: [01:01:53] Oh, well thank you.

[01:01:56] Tom: [01:01:56] I have a sort of follow up question for Kirk, if I can ask. Um, I feel like a lot of the instruction that we see related to Covin stuff is pretty plain.

[01:02:06] Like, think about face masks, for example, or distancing. Uh, but in every. Communication. There's a rhetorical element to, uh, around persuasion, right? It's not just about clear clarity, but persuading your audience to act in a certain way. Um. What, what kind of guidance do you have around that? Persuasive elements?

[01:02:30] Uh, like what, what can we do? Let's take, for example, children in high school, going back to high school and being told to sit six feet away from each other in the cafeteria. My kids told me flat out that they wouldn't do that. Um, so like how would you add a persuasive element. Even when they clearly understand what the new guideline is.

[01:02:52] Kirk: [01:02:52] Awesome question. Um, I mean pretty much it comes down to, it's the classic example of, to use a bad stereotype, the public health films from the 1950s and sixties where, you know, some 45 year old bureaucrat was designing a film to tell teenagers how to behave themselves. Um, it's that audience delivery gap there.

[01:03:11] That credibility is created by what situation is this person in. What's, what, why do young people not want to be six feet apart? I don't know about your young people, but my young people on to electronic devices could be six state support and they wouldn't care. But it's asking that audience, well, what is it that's queuing your behavior in this space to want to behave that way?

[01:03:33] Explain to me why you're doing this. Help me recreate the narrative, the picture in my head that I used to understand why you're doing what you're doing and using that picture, I can create something you can understand. And I think that's the key piece you were talking about. It's people do top down communication when it comes to public health.

[01:03:53] We've written it well. We've written it effectively written, understandably, you understand it needs to be more bottom up. Why are you behaving this way? What is guiding that behavior? What would make you want to change your behavior? What do we need to tell you in such a way that it's happened into what you value in behavior that would make you change it?

[01:04:09] And you can only get that by research the audience and asking them. And so I think that's going to be the key thing. Uh, we do enough crowdsourcing now to build everything. It seems like, why can't we start crowdsourcing how we communicate about public health, not in terms of content, but rhetorical style of delivery so that when it comes to that, it's effective.

[01:04:31] Tom: [01:04:31] Thanks. That's, that's interesting. I like the idea of like looking at. What the, what the person wants, what are their goals? And trying to work from there to try to kind of meet those goals. Um, I've definitely seen my, my kids, uh, engage in really long group conversations on the phone for hours on end. So, uh, you know, uh, in order to meet their social goals, even when the physical distancing wasn't, wasn't allowed.

[01:05:02] Kirk: [01:05:02] And actually I want to turn this question back on you, Thomas. Swab Millen everybody else here. Um, I'm bringing it for one reason. Employment when employment increases, people going back to school increases. So folks in my position kind of look at this and say, Oh, this is going to get interesting. But what we are preparing for essentially is a new wave of student, very different, who's coming in at a very large number with very different life experiences at very different points in their life that want a very different kind of education.

[01:05:30] They're very tech savvy now because many of them have worked online to an extent. And the question that I think you'll find folks like myself asking many of you who practice in industry a lot more is what should we be teaching? How, in what ways and how can we collaborate with you to provide education instead of create for you back to that audience dynamic.

[01:05:54] So I think you'll see that. Folks mentioned, you know, the grunt work that gets done. I think you're going to see education become part of that grunt work. Also, as more educators began to ask, how do we work with you to prepare the next generation of students for what's needed?

[01:06:12] Tom: [01:06:12] I think, I think at the educational curriculum will drastically change.

[01:06:18] Uh, when I saw my kids go online, like. The, the way that the approach that the teachers and the class took just did not work. I mean, my students or my kids hated it. It was, it was drudgery. Right? And, and college is the same way. I've seen so many people just complain about endless work and just like having to listen to really dry lectures and it's just not engaging.

[01:06:42] I think. Education, if it's going to be something that works, that engages people, um, is going to have to reinvent itself in a much more like student directed way. Uh, because right now it's, it's, at least in, in our schools is certainly not working. Um, my nine year old just kind of stopped doing a lot of her homework.

[01:07:01] It's like shocking to us, but she just won't do it. It's just very, very boring. Um. And it needs to sort of tap into the student's own ability to direct their learning. I don't know. I'll be curious to see how, how that changes and what the tools are, because certainly whatever would work in that scenario could have an application to e-learning and others and in instructional documentation scenarios.

[01:07:35] Gaurav: [01:07:35] Thank you. So I think you're done with all the questions in chat. There was some comments back and forth, but I think everything is handled. Uh, so back to useful, man. Thank you. All right. Thanks. Right. It says, hang on, we've got another question from. Yeah. Question in there about the tone, I think. What such tools, what do you use with companies that want to implement search, but keep the information private?

[01:08:10] So do you have any specific recommendations

[01:08:15] Tom: [01:08:15] stone with want to keep their information private? Is that what you said? Yeah. Uh, no. So look, I'm not an expert in search. I just kind of mentioned it to try to give more personality. Uh, but I do think there are a couple of. Huge players. Algolia is one, and Swift type is another.

[01:08:34] Search is emerging as a service. And, um, there's just so much that you can mine from search analytics from these companies that you're not going to get through something like lunar. Uh, like you want to be able to see what people are searching for, what results they're finding to be able to customize specific data sets, provide faceted filters.

[01:08:52] You know, like, I honestly want to take my docs to the next level by implementing an advanced search. And, uh. I think that the tools are available kind of now. Now there's a lot of different tools. Like I said, I don't know the, the search landscape that much. I'm sure, uh, other things will work as well. But I, I do think, um, even flare, for example, has micro content.

[01:09:15] They're really kind of pushing that, uh, because it has a better kind of interaction component. Um, uh. I, I do think that's going to be a very fruitful area to explore. Um, especially as people are looking for information and if you can, if you can go to a company and say, look, I can implement faceted search in and I will allow your people to actually find information that they're looking for.

[01:09:37] I think that would be huge. Um, in terms of a persuasive portfolio skill.

[01:09:47] Gaurav: [01:09:47] Oh, thanks Tom. Um, I think we pretty much out of time, but I just wanted to say a quick thanks to Gora for moderating the questions and also Sarah or the facilitating the discussion. Um, and a huge thanks to Tom and cup for joining us and providing a very healthy discussion of what's happening around the world.

[01:10:07] And. Just in the technical communication industry and just, just in general, in terms of, you know, what do technical communicators need to do, um, to be more effective. So I thank you both. Um, and like I previously mentioned on the meetup page, this meeting has been recorded and I will put it up on the right, the docs, YouTube channels, and, um, what started link.

[01:10:31] So thank you everyone. Thanks for joining in. Thanks.

[01:10:35] Kirk: [01:10:35] Thank you.

[01:10:37] Swapnil: [01:10:37] Thanks everyone.

[01:10:39] Tom: [01:10:39] Bye.

[01:10:40] Swapnil: [01:10:40] Thank you. Bye.

[01:10:42] Kirk: [01:10:42] Thank you.

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About Tom Johnson

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.

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