Another Web 2.0 presentation
For 1,5 hours
What do all these buzzwords have in common?
Business Process Redesign
These are all lost business
opportunities for technical
The bad news is that we are not
Quite the opposite.
We are not missing the opportunity.
We are loosing our jobs.
Against the user communities.
But there is good news…
We are not aware of this.
Are we missing the opportunity again?
User Communities in Technical
Presented by / Bogo Vatovec
We can’t talk about user communities
without at least mentioning Web 2.0
Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 in a rather useless manner.
“Web 2.0 refers to a perceived second generation of web-based
communities and services - such as social-networking sites and wikis -
which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users.”
“Web 2.0 refers to the transition of websites from isolated information silos to
interlinked computing platforms that act like software to the user. “
Internet (Web 1.0) brought services
Power to the users. Suddenly we could
» find travel information and book own travel.
» research medical conditions and treatments.
» analyze financial markets and trade.
» get up-to-date information on almost any topic.
This resulted in a shift to self-service in many industries.
» Generally reduces costs
» Transferred effort to the customers (who didn’t notice this)
» Empowered IT-departments
» In most cases, companies still maintained ownership and responsibility
Web 2.0 puts customers in control of
Provides users the possibility to create content and experiences:
» Pursue social goals
» Create content
» Manage content
» Share content across websites
User experience changes
» From limited, company centered, individual to rich, user centric, social
» “The Web” actually becomes “THE WEB”
The change has been triggered by the
maturity of Internet
» Critical mass of internet users reached long time ago
» Practical added value perceived by all users
» Human social nature
Enabled by simple yet powerful technologies
» RSS (Really Simple Syndication)
» Pod- and videocasts
» Web services
Wikis allows users to easily create, edit
and link web pages
» Wikis are mostly used to create collaborative websites.
» Increasingly used by businesses to provide affordable and effective
» There are several variations of Wikis like PBwiki, Triki, Bliki, Interwiki with
RSS allows for publishing and
subscribing to specific information
» A content syndication standard
» An XML standard provides structure and semantics to the content
» Content is both human and machine readable
» The content can be reused in different ways
» Is delivered to the users when and how they wanted.
Podcasts are multimedia files distributed
using the RSS
» Can be delivered to various devices.
» Can contain voice or/and pictures.
» Can be used as an alternative communication channel in all industries.
Blogs are simple content publishing and
» Blogs display content in a reversed chronological
order – newest first.
» Kept to keep and publish diaries, thoughts on
» A new blog is added every two seconds.
» Blogging has become a mass phenomena and a
topic of much research.
»In September 2007, the blog search engine
Technorati was tracking more that 107 million blogs.
Since then, nobody is counting.
Blogs are major information
polluters and should be managed
by a CO2-like emission voucher
Web 2.0 doesn’t bring many new
For most companies, Web 2.0 offers extensions and new possibilities to
expand the existing business models.
» User content sharing and creation
» Social-network communities
» Recommendations and reviews
» Crowdsourcing (Wisdom of the crowds)
Crowdsourcing taps the potential of masses
» Problems can be explored at comparatively little
» Payment is by results.
» The organization can tap a wider range of talent it
Cambrian House http://www.cambrianhouse.com/
Dell IdeaStorm http://www.ideastorm.com/
Proctor&Gamble InnoCentive http://www.innocentive.com/
Amazon Mechanical Turk http://www.mturk.com
But this presentation is not
about Web 2.0 for corporations.
It‘s about technical communication.
So why should all these
be a threat
to technical communication?
is not really communication.
It‘s mass broadcasting.
We can say what we want, but:
Users don‘t read documentation.
And never will.
Many studies showed that 90% of the users never
look at documentation.
bovacon studies shown that when having a problem,
95% of the users look for help on the internet.
The other 5% don‘t look necessarily into
The sad reality is that we have
known this for 15 years.
But never did anything about this.
This problem is inherently built into
Documentation can provide instructions
on how to use the product.
Which might be necessary for very special and
But is usually just a sign of bad design.
Documentation can‘t solve
a particular problem
the user is facing.
This problem is affected
by too many external, real-time parameters.
Specific software and hardware.
Corporate environment and regulations.
We are fighting a Don Quichote
Users don‘t expect to find solutions to their problems in
Yet we are trying to provide the solutions in our
We are even trying to argue the added value of our
profession using this wrong argument.
Earlier in my career I had a strong
opinion that documentation is an
integral part of the product.
I was wrong.
Documentation should be
It‘s our job to do this.
Or somebody else will do this for us.
Technical communicators should
design innovative ways to improve
The sad news is that, by doing this, you stop being a
You become a product designer.
Bogo‘s three steps roadmap to
Technical Communication 2.0
1) Provide the users with the infrastructure and benefit
2) Become a power user.
3) Make professional organization and companies
Using Wikis to develop instructions and
Using communities to share knowledge
and solve problems
Using modern media and blogs to
improve communication and trust
The challenges behind the integration of
Web 2.0 provide opportunities for TCs
Work under a motto – we need something
Web 2.0 likeish.
Treat Web 2.0 possibilitiess as a separate
Overwhelm with “integration” with social
The user has to find his way through a
mess of options completely ignoring her
Giving power to customers can sometimes
cause interesting PR challenges
» Dell-Hell http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/cat_dell.html
» Chevy Tahoe collaborative marketing http://www.news.com/1606-2_3-
Step 2: Become a power user
Traditional technical communicator TC 2.0 technical communicator
» Interviewer, writer, designer. » Interviewer, writer, designer.
» Hidden behind the corporation » Content provider, expert.
» Introvert – leave me alone so I » Enabler, designer, moderator.
can write my handbook. » On a front-line – I‘m an expert.
» Practically no feedback on user » Extrovert – this is my opinion and
assistance. this is how you should do this.
» Interactive, short feedback cycles
and reaction times.
Step 3: Tasks for the corporations
» Reduce the amount of traditional forms of technical communication
(documentation, online help)
» Support innovative approaches to user documentation.
» Support activities to establish and maintain user communities.
» Establish and recognize “community experts” on the basis of their
contribution to user communities.
The new job description from the STC is a step
in the right direction, but became to broad
At the Society for Technical Communication conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Susan Burton, the STC Executive Director, received a standing ovation when she
presented the new job description of a technical writer/communicator from the U. S.
Government, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as pushed forward by the STC:
Old definition: 27-3042 Technical Writers
Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating
and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.
New definition: 27-1028 Technical Communicators
Develop and design instructional and informational tools needed to assure safe,
easy, proper and complete use of technical goods and services. Combine multi-
media knowledge and strong communication skills with technical expertise to
educate across the entire spectrum of users‘ abilities, technical experience, and
visual and auditory capabilities.
User communities will not replace
But they represent a paradigm shift for the profession.
TC 2.0 enriches the work
of technical communicators
From am unknown writer to an recognized expert.
From a writer to an enabler, moderator and a content
An individual and a community more important then the
Brings the user much closer than any other known user
TC 2.0 demands new skills and
Outbound instead of inbound focus – a communicator
instead of a writer.
A stand-alone writer becomes a part of the
Traditional technical communication quality (grammar,
writing style, …) less important than speed,
correctness and contextual relevance of information.
You probably can’t have
the TC 2.0 immediately.
You should still:
Carefully follow user communities dealing with the
subject matter, your product or competitive products.
Follow innovative thinkers in related industries.
Imagine scenarios about potential use of the new
Think outside the box and be
If there is a knowledge management initiative in the
organization, lead it.
Start innovation wiki where ideas can be shared.
Initiate rewarding mechanisms.
Think about integrating users in your design process.
Now it‘s your turn.
Boo me out.
Throw stones at me.
Tell me I‘m a disgrace for the profession.