Technical documentation might not typically “stir enough froth to cover a cappucino”, but that’s not stopping Peter Thompson — who offers that unflattering description — and Robyn Stephen from putting examples of it on display.
Thompson, who turned to technical writing after senior management jobs at Telecom, Data General and IBM, says for all its lack of glamour the discipline is important in helping users get to grips with software and in helping it sell.
“The better quality the documentation, the easier it is to sell the goods,” says Thompson.
The best of it — print and online — will be on display in Auckland later this month and will travel to Christchurch and Wellington later in the year.
It’s here courtesy of the STC (Society for Technical Communication), an international body of technical writers, designers and others in the documentation business.
Every year the STC holds an exhibition of award-winning documentation; this year it gave the New Zealand chapter a grant to bring the winning pieces to New Zealand, says Stephen, the chapter president.
There are three categories: online communication, technical art and technical publication. Entries are marked according to what’s lacking from the documentation, not what’s there, Stephen says.
A survey of the winners reveals IT is at the forefront of good design — brochures and manuals from companies such as IBM, Intel and 3Com feature prominently, though the winners come from many industries.
The entries will be on display to the Auckland public at Multisystems at 228 Queen Street on February 11 and February 14.