Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Ten years of Usable Help
Today is the 10th anniversary of this website. I try not to wax too nostalgic, but here are some of the things I'm reflecting on at this milestone.
The Internet Wayback Machine discovered Usable Help within a month of its launch and has an early snapshot. I'm not embarrassed that the basic design hasn't changed much at all over the years, on the contrary, I'm glad that this simple format has become more popular. Overall, I've tried to practice the minimalist approach that I advocate. (I've published about 90K words here over the years, or just 750 per month on average.)
My very first post was this manifesto. The world is much different in some ways now. Nobody provides software on CD-ROM anymore, and printed manuals have indeed been left in the past. Sadly, though, many onscreen help systems (and tech writers) are still mired in "book" conventions.
I remember that the blogging landscape was largely empty of comm blogs, and for a long time Noise Between Stations was the only one in my "Favorite Sites" sidebar. Good to see it's still around. Many of the other pioneers have moved on to other projects, such as Ken Dow, Fred Sampson, and Jenny Berger. Today there are plenty of blogs to choose from and I've had to carefully manage my current Favorite Sites list to keep it from getting ridiculously long.
Many people have asked why I don't allow comments on the blog. I used to, but keeping up with the spammers was a chore and I realized that it has never been my intent to build a community around this site. I'm thrilled to have you reading (thank you!), but there are other places you can socialize with fellow writers. I do appreciate it, though, when you use that "respond" link and send me a note about what you've read here.
One of the things I feel that I've done right with this blog is my choice of Tinderbox as its authoring and publishing tool. Tinderbox was just 2 or 3 months old when I started using it here, which I suppose was a leap of faith for me, but it has really paid off. If you're looking for a wonderfully innovative (and slightly quirky) writing and information management tool, check it out.
In preparation for this anniversary, I set up additional ways that you can "follow" (now there's a bit of jargon that wasn't around in 2002) this blog. I was stubborn about only using RSS for a long time, but now you can also read along on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and via newsletter.
Finally, thank you again for reading, supplying me with interesting topics, and your general support. When I started this I certainly had no idea it would be a part of my life for a decade, but I still find it rewarding thanks to you. Here's to whatever the future holds!