Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
Instructional search engine
It is cliche to write about the enormous impact the world wide web has had on society, so I'll try to avoid that as I point out that one of the professions most impacted is that of technical writers. In the not-so-distant past, the primary source of information about how to use a product was the manual provided by the manufacturer. More recently, third-party manuals have blossomed and are largely considered a must-have for learning how to use a new piece of consumer equipment or software. But beyond the so-called missing manual, the web offers a variety of instructional materials that are often easier to find, if not more honest, than any official or vetted channel. Created largely by customers, for customers, these "fourth-party" documents are everywhere.
The debut of Find How makes it even simpler to find good instructional material on the web. Instead of having to wade through Google results that include people asking unanswered questions and misinformation, you can search only for material that provides "how-to" information. KnowHow promises to offer links only to "trusted" sources of information. Virtually any topic you can think of is categorized and available; making reaching for the manual or Help menu even more of a measure of last resort.