Jan 1, 2012

New Year Resolution for 2012

Happy New Year, readers! What are your career-boosting intentions for 2012? I intend to ring in the new year with the tradition of a New Year resolution. However, my resolution is far from traditional. 

Technical Writers are challenged to become involved with the field of Internet Technology (IT). It is no secret that Digital publication has swept the consumer market. As mobile devices exceed desktop sales for 2011, it is evident that today's Technical Writers will need to be well-versed in creating end-user applications and documentation for these devices. This is an exciting time for our field, as we have the opportunity to mold the end-user's mobile experience. Does this mean we must learn coding languages and become a programmers on the side? No. Over the past decade, the merge into the information highway has been arduous for those writers who knew little of coding languages; however today, many software companies have developed applications that bridge the gap for writers and designers alike. Although knowing code always helps when the need for a custom layout tweak arises, due to these emerging technologies it is no longer critical for the communicator.

I recently participated in a webinar “Creating Student Digital Publications” where Ed Madison, a PhD candidate serving as an adjunct instructor for the School of Journalism and Communication in the New Media Department at University of Oregon (UO), discussed a successful project where these students worked with Adobe to test the beta version of the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. With this software, they were able to both create and publish their online campus magazine, Oregon Quarterly. The UO journalism students knew little to no code, but successfully used to the software to publish a highly professional digital magazine. Madison claims the students were able to adapt to the software easily, and that the course was taught using traditional design principles. This is great news for the seasoned writer because traditional principles of design and technical communication are skill sets we have mastered and adapted within our own practices. With this solid foundation, many Tech Comms are ready to make the leap into the mobile world.

The November 2011 issue of intercom: The Magazine for the Society of Technical Communication dedicated the entire issue to Tech Comm on the Move: Mobile Communication Technologies and Strategies. In this issue, many colleagues submitted articles about merging into mobility including:

  • eBook publishing need to knows
  • Developing user assistance for mobile applications
  • Key guidelines for developing mobile applications
  • Improved security options through mobile devices
  • Best practices for working remote
This issue is packed full of essential and useful information. Personally I found the issue so intriguing that I read it from cover-to-cover.  It is clear that Technical Writers need to think mobile to remain competitive in today's job market. Many software companies are looking for writers who are not only IT savvy, but who can publish digitally for mobile device users. For 2012, I desire to conquer mobile applications. Make your own resolutions to get on the mobile publication trend and hold that competitive edge! I wish you all a wonderful and productive 2012.

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