Web 2.0 has revolutionized the way society uses the Internet. Whether it’s Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, or LinkedIn, we’ve moved from passive readers to active contributors.
Given this fundamental change, why is it that most technical communicators are operating as if Web 2.0 never occurred? Based on what I’ve seen, most writers haven’t embraced the collaborative model that is commonplace with Web 2.0. Why? Here are a few guesses:
- Some of the web sites are relatively new. Twitter, for instance, has really only taken off in the last 18 months. Most writers haven’t figured out whether to use sites like this and how to use them in their jobs.
- Our tools haven’t fully embraced Web 2.0. The tools that technical writers use don’t fully take advantage of Web 2.0. RoboHelp’s newer Help format, AIR Help, does permit users to comment on a given topic but it doesn’t allow writers to moderate those comments. To me, this is “Web 2.0 lite.”
- Slow acceptance of social media by technical communication departments. Marketing people have fully embraced sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But from what I’ve seen, technical communication departments appear to be taking a “wait and see” approach when it comes to leveraging these technologies.
Of course, there are organizations that have taken full advantage of social media—more on this later. But I believe these organizations are the exception rather than the norm.
Too bad. I believe that incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into technical documentation could make our content better, foster more dialog with our customers, and change—and improve—our careers.