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SCCI 2019 Keynote Talk


Tom Johnson, Amazon

Tech Comm Trends: Providing Value as a Generalist in a Sea of Specialists
Developer tools and languages are becoming increasingly specialized and complex, requiring engineers to play more active, collaborative roles in documentation. The market opportunities for tech writers have gravitated toward this complexity, with most of the jobs in demand involving developer documentation. Yet tech writers are typically generalists, so they face real challenges when it comes to providing value in these specialized contexts.  What value can generalists provide in a world of increasing specialization? How can you avoid becoming a second-class citizen in developer contexts? Even without a specialist’s in-depth knowledge, tech writers can still play powerful roles to shape documentation. By (1) instrumenting the publishing workflow and platform, (2) relaying knowledge of the user experience, and (3) implementing principles for information design, tech writers can provide value as generalists even in a sea of specialists.

About Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a senior technical writer for Amazon in Sunnyvale, California. He is best known for his blog I'd Rather Be Writing, where he posts regularly on technical communication topics. The blog has one of the largest followings of technical communicators online. Additionally, he has created an extensive web API documentation course (http:/idratherbewriting.com/learnapidoc) that has helped hundreds of technical writers transition into API documentation. Lately, he has been working on a series of essays around information design for simplifying complexity (http://idratherbewriting.com/simplifying-complexity). He has given more than 90 presentations over the past decade at various technical communication events. Always open to trying new things, Tom enjoys exploring and discussing ways to innovate in the tech comm space.