Probably the least original theme to pick for a blog this week (but a pleasing distraction none the less) is the chance to think about 2009 from a technical writer’s perspective and try and lay a few foundations for a better year ahead.
So for the sake of argument (or ‘blogument’ even), what would my new year’s resolutions be for IT writing?
It would be so good to speak to less vendors and more users, developers and designers – but it’s not always easy. I have this frustration that often surfaces at developer symposia when I try to informally chat to engineers on their way out of sessions to find out if they rate the materials, speakers and content positively. Mostly, they see my press badge and think I work for the politburo. I did a VOX-POP for ZDNet.co.uk at IBM Rational this year and was left feeling like I had prostituted myself. Come on chaps, please.
Should I speak to more analysts or less? What’s the difference between an analyst and a journalist? Why do vendors venerate them at higher level than they do journalists? Why do journalists use analysts’ quotes but not vice versa? A couple of my pals are analysts, but should I speak to other less helpful ones instead? These and other similar questions typify my thoughts in this area – I wonder if the average ZDNet.co.uk reader follows analyst reports for industry insight?
HEAVEN CAN WAIT:
Technology evangelists are, arguably, just highly technical marketing managers – so should they be regarded as anything more than that and should we clarify our vision of what they say and how they say it in regard to the industry? The answer is almost certainly yes, the difficulty arises when you get really technical guys that don’t give it the whole cheesy grin routine and come across as quite impartial. Microsoft has strong speakers on architecture, Adobe has great speakers on application servers – and in many cases these guys are respected technical authors in their own right. But they are being paid and we need to remember this.
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
There’s a tendency to want to follow the big players in the industry and leave the small fish to pick up the scraps. It would be great if we could take a more even hand and give some of the ‘smaller footprint’ companies a chance to comment and add to the argument. The problem these companies often have though is that because they are smaller, they sometimes come across with an overly aggressive tone or a, “Well, we know we’re not an IBM,” sort of self-deprecating approach. It’s sometimes tough to find a chilled out smaller outfit that is relaxed. Web development and design companies are, I would suggest, the exception that proves the rule here.
I could go on and on – but let’s leave it there and head merrily towards the New Year. As a closing thought, I was going to try and pick one person from the technology industry that I haven’t yet met but would like to. With the obvious exception of Google’s Marissa Mayer I’m finding it hard to pick someone. I’ve been very lucky to meet quite a few CEOs, top VPs and project leads over the last 18 months in particular. I’ll probably have to wimp out here and go for all round technology enthusiast and Twitter-tweeter extraordinaire Stephen Fry. How about you?
END NOTE: huge and unreserved thanks to any and all that have read (or even skimmed) anything I have written this year – I am, dear readers, obliged to you…