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I'd Rather Be Writing blog

Presentation recording: Specialization myopia syndrome and the content journey
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.
Podcast: All about Redocly, with founder Adam Altman
In this podcast, I chat with Adam Altman all about Redocly, an authoring/publishing tool for creating API documentation. Topics we discuss include why he started Redocly, the approach to API doc tools, what explains the continued popularity of Redocly, the docs-as-code approach to API tooling, and more.
Building your own balance board for a standing desk
This tutorial shows you how to build your own balance board with both single and double rollers, intended for standing intermittently at a standing desk. If you browse balance boards online, you'll find they're expensive for how simple they are: a piece of wood on a roller. Buying all the materials yourself will likely equal the cost of pre-built board, but your custom board will probably be better and you can make multiple balance boards (one for work, one for home). Plus, you can create a balance board with a double roller, or innovate in other ways.
Finally got Covid -- my experience
After 2.5 years of avoiding it, I finally got Covid, probably Omicron based on the symptoms. I usually don't write about personal illness, but I also figure that my blog would have a void if I never wrote about Covid during the entire pandemic.
Five ways to leverage big-picture thinking as a technical writer
In a technology world growing increasingly specialized, technical writers can stay relevant by leveraging their most salient skill: the ability to see the big picture, to look across systems or individual APIs and see the shape of the whole. Technical writers can employ big-picture thinking with docs by emphasizing the following content types: (1) Detailed product overviews, (2) developer journeys, (3) cross-system workflows, (4) integrated API data, (5) and external domain knowledge.
Conclusion and takeaways from my Journey Away from Smartphones series
A New York Times article about Luddite teens who rejected their smartphones made me reflect on my own journey away from smartphones and the complexities of discerning how to adopt transformative technology in my life. In this conclusion to the series, I highlight key learnings and realizations throughout the year, including how the project changed me for the better.
New Job-Hunter Support Group course offered by Bobby Kennedy
Bobby Kennedy provides various courses on to help people transition into technical writing. Previously, he mostly offered eight-week Jump School courses. Starting this spring, he's also offering a new, one-of-a-kind course called the Job-Hunter Support Group, which focuses on helping people find job openings for technical writers, prepare a resume and portfolio, and interview convincingly for the positions. The following is a Q&A with Bobby about the new course. (Note: This is a sponsored post.)
New series: Sitting, standing, and walking
I'm starting a new series called Sitting, standing, and walking. Near the end of my last series on Journey away from smartphones, I described the growing discontent I felt by sitting in front of a screen all day. I longed to be outside, walking, engrossed in a panoramic view of the surrounding sky. Instead, it seemed most of my life, especially working in tech, was spent sitting. This series is all about ways to reduce sitting and avoid a sedentary life in front of the screen.
The diametric pull towards technology vs. wildness
Not long ago, I decided to take up a goal of walking for two hours a day. The goal didn't last more than two weeks, but the trajectory informed me about my ongoing push and pull with technology. However much I try to break away from tech's screens, I'm drawn to them because of their continual inflow of multifaceted information; it's like a magnetic pull. At the same time, there's an opposing pull in the opposite direction: towards wildness, as Thoreau puts it.
Book review: May I Ask a Technical Question, by Jeff Krinock and Matt Hoff
Jeff Krinock and Matt Hoff's 2016 book, May I Ask a Technical Question? Questions about digital reliability each of us should ask, provides an essential addition to the growing cyber-skeptic genre. The authors don't aim to vilify digital technology, but rather to encourage readers to thoughtfully consider the costs and benefits of each innovation.
Thoughts on ChatGPT after reading Crawford's Why We Drive: whatever skill you outsource, atrophies
Whatever skill you outsource, atrophies. When we outsource tasks to machines to perform, our ability to perform the task ourselves weakens. From driving to writing, automation threatens to reduce key elements of the human experience. In this post, I'll use Matthew Crawford's Why We Drive as a lens through which to interpret ChatGPT. Although Crawford's book is about driving, so many of the arguments could equally apply to writing.
Having fun with ChatGPT
If you haven't already heard about and experimented with ChatGPT, you need to. This generative AI writing tool has the potential to do for writing what art AI tools have already done for graphic content. ChatGPT is pretty mind-blowing. I didn't realize AI writing tools were so advanced.
What the Default Mode Network (DMN) and Task Positive Network (TPN) modes of the brain teach us about focus
The DMN and TPN areas of the brain perform different functions. The DMN is active during brooding, rumination, and other imaginative thought. The TPN is active when you're focused on tasks. Understanding these different networks can help us understand why our attention can sometimes shift its focus.
Two examples where high-level overviews are essential: Macbeth and Elon Musk
In my previous post, Pulling readers through long documents, I explained that almost no one will read long documents, in my experience. It seems only task-based information demands enough payoff to make reading worth it to users. In this post, I'll explore a couple of examples where high-level information is essential and used, but in another light. The two examples are Macbeth and Elon Musk.
Pulling readers through long documents
Long, high-level conceptual docs don't command the same reading attention as task-based docs. How do you pull a reader through a long doc when the payoff isn't a completed task, but merely greater understanding?