It all began when a boy met a girl....
Yeah, you don't care about that.
I am a technical writer, sometimes called information developer, technical communicator, information designer, content strategist, content developer, UX writer, and more. I am unusual in that I have a degree in the discipline, a Bachelor of Science in Technical Communicaiton from the University of Washington. I have designed and developed all sorts of content for a wide variety of audiences and with tons of experience in and a passion for content experience, technology, and usability, and in all cases I have one primary goal: user success.
I wasn't always going to be a technical writer. Growing up on Cape Cod, one of the always-fascinating aspects of life there is the weather. That plus one of my best friend's father working for the National Weather Service, giving me the occasional opportunity to see what he did at the Chatham weather station, led me to embark on a course toward a degree in meteorology. I was also an avid reader, largely science fiction. When I'd go outside at night I'd look up to the moon and tell myself that someday I'd go there. So as I made my way thorugh secondary school, I started thinking I'd also get a degree in astronomy. College changed all that.
We were not a well-off family. We would not be able to pay for college. So in my last year of high school, in searching for ways to pay for college, I applied for an Air Force ROTC scholoarship, that being one where I could pursue meteorological study. I aced the ASVABs (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery)--I always did well on tests--and soon got a letter saying I was awarded a full 4-year ride at Rutgers. And then I took the physical. In the spring of my senior year I got a letter telling me my scholarship was being revoked because my eyesight was too bad. (Not like I was aiming to be a pilot or anything, although I had always been quite nearsighted.) It was devastating, not only the news, but the timing.
Meanwhile, I had also gotten interested in sports. I had long been a gawky kid, the sterotypical last-picked in gym classes, etc. The last couple of years in high school changed that. I joined the cross country team in the fall and the track team in the spring. I wasn't the best runner, but I helped my high school win its first league championships and set a couple of school records. Along with that, my sports fandom bloomed; I will never not follow and root for the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, and to a lesser extent, the Bruins.
I’ve loved writing ever since high school. Not only did I excel in my English classes, I wrote for the local newspaper. I was a computer geek way back then too, writing code on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model II that our electronics shop borrowed during my senior year. (My teachers had to kick me out of shop at the end of the day so they could go home.)
I’m a science nerd too. I once was going to get degrees in meteorology and astronomy, but in my studies toward that goal, I found technical communication and never looked back.
The latter I found was my greatest passion. Creating great content experiences helps people succeed at what they do, whether those content experiences are through printed manuals, online help, tutorials, error messages, release notes, tooltips, or UI text.
I’ve developed content for just about everyone: end users, administrators, developers, business operations, and many more user types, all the while making that content clear, consistent, concise, correct, and most of all, findable and usable. And I’ve done it with all sort of tools, from powerful and robust help authoring tools (HATs) to plain old text editors.
Almost since I began in this industry, I’ve shared with others. From almost the day I began working after graduation, I was involved on the TECWR-L list listening, learning, and sharing what I’d learned. I presented at the WritersUA conference a few times. More recently, I’ve been active in industry LinkedIn groups, and some of my Medium essays are about technical writing, software development, user experience, and tech in general.
I get great pleasure in applying technical communication principles to my work. It is delightful when I discover content I can reuse and successfully make it happen. I think in content patterns and I’m solving content problems in the shower, behind the wheel, and while I’m falling sleep. I read writing and tech books for fun.
That’s not to say I don’t have a life. I’m a sports fan and wear my loyalties on my sleeve. I’m active in many sports, including softball, basketball, soccer, and football. I’m involved in my community, volunteering with a variety of organizations over the years. More recently, I’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity, including many days on the 7555 Mission project in Daly City.
When I’m creating great content experiences, I look forward to waking up and going to the office each and every day. Doing the work that I love has given me the opportunity to meet many great people, develop great products, and learn so many new things. My journey is not complete, and my next adventure is ready to begin.