It seriously feels like the whole country is on vacation at the moment, and technical writers are no exception. Here in Israel, we have a love-hate relationship with the entire month of August (love the beautiful hikes, carefree attitudes, and lazy summer vacation schedules; hate the lack of camp/daycare options for kids and the scorching Middle East heat). Come September 1st, kids will return to school and companies with mandatory vacation weeks will be opening their doors once again. Until then, here are some technical writing summer reads for you to enjoy and learn from:

If Scott Adams were to write release notes
Ever seen release notes in the form of illustrated panes? Neither had we, until Basecamp 3 came out with their...


Technical writers often talk about SMEs, but subject matter experts are actually (gasp!) developers, programmers, scientists, innovators, and product managers. Today’s SMEs are young, smart, and quick. This is not your father’s SME – this is the SME of Generation Y. The smartphone generation. The startup generation. The instant generation. These SMEs will not be impressed by your 1200 page PDF full of screen shots and explanations of self-explanatory features. These SMEs expect you to walk in the door with well-thought-out questions, an understanding of the technology, and the ability to translate their techno-speak into user-oriented documentation. Then, they will expect you to walk right out that door so that they can get back to coding and testing and developing. And Snapchatting....


Here's a short summary of this week's top technical writing news articles from around the web:

Can programmers write?

A seemingly innocuous blog post addressing the question of why developers write horrible documentation resulted in a raging rant response from one technical writer who claims...


The world of technical content
Technical writing overview and food for thought for experienced as well as aspiring technical writers and documentation managers.

Techstars: What startups are looking for

Startups aren’t necessarily looking for someone with a certain degree, but instead they’re more focused on finding people with specific traits. What kind of traits? Read the article to find out what today’s start-ups are looking for.



For the documentation managers out there

What is professional development? Why is it important? And how can documentation managers help their technical writing teams work more efficiently by nurturing professional growth?

Structured authoring: without it, you're spending way too much time creating content

Some really useful advice that will save you time and help you produce better, more streamlined technical...


What is interaction design?
Being attuned to the five dimensions of interaction design not only explains what interaction design involves, but can help technical writers relate better to their audience and improve their documentation.

You’ve heard of Unit 8200, what about Unit 9900?
Teens and young adults on the autism spectrum volunteer to serve in one of Israel’s most elite intelligence units. Members of the “RR” unit are all gifted with an incredible ability to analyze, interpret, and understand satellite images and maps....


Is crowdsoucing in your documentation future?
An associate professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute is designing crowdsourcing frameworks that combine the best qualities of machine learning and human intelligence, in order to allow distributed groups of workers to perform complicated cognitive tasks. Those include writing how-to guides or organizing information without a central organizer.