Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
Has Google changed technical writing?
In The Atlantic Online - Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nicholas Carr suggests that online writing, and Google in particular, has changed the expectations of the written word. Attention spans are shorter and when asking a question one often receives multiple answers, so there's competition between authorities.
It's certainly true that contemporary software documentation has been heavily influenced by the web. While costs have driven most information online, that move has also forever changed the depth, organization, and style of documentation.
After you read The Atlantic article, visit Internet Evolution - Don't Judge New Media by Old Rules by Cory Doctorow. Two differing perspectives, but the core of what they're saying mesh well.
As technical documentation faces the "Google effect," it must adapt to the new media. As we enter 2009, what will you do to move our field forward, and make our product more useful and relevant to our customers?