Updated Metrics and Measurement section in API course to remove scoring aspect

I recently updated the Metrics and measurement section of my API course to remove the section on scoring the various API documentation criteria. I also consolidated the first- and second-level checklists into a single checklist.

Results of the survey about fizzled trends: Every trend is still with us

Recently I posted a short survey trying to identify trends that faded or fizzled. About 300 people took the survey. As I was creating the survey, I thought there would be some clear trends that failed. To my surprise, I learned that anything that once surfaced as a documentation trend is still "hanging in there" as a common practice in the field. About the only thing you can say is that tech comm has become more fragmented, plural, diverse, and multifaceted than ever. There are superseded technologies, but apparently no non-trends.

Survey about documentation trends that fizzled (one-minute survey)

In preparation for a presentation on trends that fizzled or faded, I launched this short survey to get some help in identifying fizzled trends. The survey is still open (so feel free to take it), but I'm not longer actively monitoring the results. The survey is here. The survey has you rank the trends using sliders.

Webinar recording of 'Using MadCap Flare to Generate API Documentation'

'Using MadCap Flare to Generate API Documentation' provides an excellent introduction to API documentation, along with an example implementation in Flare. This webinar, hosted by MadCap Software, was presented by Athena Adiksson and Jana Cromer of VAS. The webinar focuses on the basics of API documentation content, not necessarily on OpenAPI specifications or integration. VAS provides a farm management API. You can view the recording here. (Note that MadCap Software is one of the sponsors of my site.)

Part 5: More specifics about finding a focus

In the previous post, I debated about the type of content that engages an audience versus the type of content engages the writer. I said the thinking/writing process is probably more valuable than the subject, but also that the subject should be something you, the writer, should be naturally drawn to because you'll be most productive being in that space. At the same time, if you want to engage a particular audience, you need to find topics that both you and the audience resonate with, which might be challenging. In this section, I'll get a little more down-to-earth about my audience and focus.

Part 4: Creating engaging content: A balance of interests

In the previous post, I explained some web fundamentals, such as having a website, learning SEO, capturing subscribers to your newsletter, and so on. However, given that documentation reports and meeting notes failed to engage my readers, I wondered about the key ingredient to influence: engaging content. What types of content would readers find engaging? This turns out to be a complex question with no easy answer other than to focus on what engages you and hope that someone else has a mutual interest. The problem is that those with a mutual interest are likely outside the target business audience.

Part 3: Five basics for building an audience on the web

In the previous post, I explained how email fails as a communication channel in the workplace, and how solely relying on email-based content can cause you to miss out on my analytics and other common web techniques. In this post, I'll look at a few aspects related to content production on the web. Although these techniques all seem basic, hardly any of them are followed in the workplace.

Part 2: Initial attempts and failures with workplace content

In my previous post, I explained that anyone can create content and broadcast it on the web, gathering up an audience and building a reputation of expertise. I wondered if these techniques could be implemented in the workplace. In my initial attempt to create content in the workplace, I focused on two efforts: (1) creating documentation reports and (2) sharing meeting notes. The efforts sort of failed because I neglected some web fundamentals.

Part 1: Introduction to influence on the web

This is a multi-post series exploring a hypothesis about influence on the web and in the workplace. The main question I'm exploring is whether the same techniques for visibility and influence on the web can have a similar effect within the workplace, which has different dynamics, cultures, tools, and expectations.

Themes from 2021: working from home and podcasting

Many themes surfaced in 2021, but I want to address two: working from home and podcasting.

Site analytics for 2021 -- a few observations and reflections

I updated my site analytics page for 2021. As far as noteworthy metrics, not much that has changed, but there are a few small trends worth reflecting on.

PDF and eBook formats available for API doc course

PDF and eBook formats are now available for my API doc course. People have long-requested these formats, and I finally decided to create and make them available.

One year later after moving to Seattle

A few people have asked me how I like Seattle and how things are going after the move. Given that it's been a year since we moved to Seattle, I thought this would be a good topic to write about. Overall, the move was a good decision, and we've all adjusted well. As I head into the next year, one thing that concerns me is that I've been writing less, so in 2022 I plan to rekindle that energy.

Broadcasting your meeting notes (API documentation topic)

A few months ago I added a topic to my API doc course called Sending doc status reports – a tool for visibility and relationship building. Another tool for accomplishing a similar purpose -- that of making others in your company aware of documentation processes, newly published articles, how to work with your team, etc. -- is to broadcast your meeting notes after each meeting. Although sharing meeting notes with meeting participants after the meeting isn’t anything new, with a few small adjustments, it can be a powerful way to influence those around you. Read more here: Broadcasting your meeting notes to influence a wider audience.

Barefoot shoes, basketball, and how to avoid recurring calf strains

This post is mostly about shoes (and the way the shoe industry has gone awry), but it's not entirely unrelated to technical writing (which is the usual focus of this blog). Technical writing is a sedentary career that involves sitting all day. In this sedentary mode, it's easy to develop bad posture and other physical problems. At any rate, almost all of us have physical ailments of some kind, especially related to our feet, knees, and back. In this post, I argue that shoes with elevated/wedged heels might be partly to blame. Elevated/wedged heel shoes shorten and atrophy our calf muscles and imbalance our posture, leading to back pain, strained calves, and other issues. I share my story of why I got into wearing barefoot shoes and how I've reconciled natural movement with basketball playing.