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Published on June 8th, 2007 | by Rahel Bailie


Why [some] tech writers don’t like content management

Moving to content management means a big shift in the way technical communicators work and the way they think about their work. With some sweeping generalizations (because the very nature of “top ten” lists require such generalizations), here are my five top reasons that technical communicators don’t like content management:

  1. The personality types drawn to structure, predictability, and stability of technical writing aren’t part of the 15-20% of the population who willingly embrace change.
  2. Because so much of a writer’s work is carried out using software, one’s feeling of competence is tied being able to use the software on auto-pilot while concentrating on the craft of communication. Messing with that in a major way creates a crisis of confidence.
  3. Technical writers don’t like the idea of constraints being putting on their writing styles, even though the lack of constraint may be an illusion.
  4. Technical communication departments tend to be insular, and rather than keeping up with incremental industry changes, technical writers lag behind and then get overwhelmed with having to learn several new concepts, technologies, and tools at once – and then it feels overwhelming and disheartening.
  5. Technical writers don’t think like business people, and resist the metrics and measurements that reduce their work to units, measurable like so many auto parts, so the language that gets used to sell content management to management, or describe the benefits of content management sounds cold and threatening.

Next, the five top reasons why other technical writers love content management.

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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

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