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I'd Rather Be Writing Podcast

Technology Podcasts

A technical writing podcast about the latest trends and practices in the field of technical communication. Technical communication includes topics like technical writing (software help), AI, information architecture, usability, API documentation, information design, web design, illustration, DITA, structured authoring, content strategy, visual communication, and more. If you're a technical writer or interested in technical writing, this is the one of few podcasts in this niche. I also have a blog at https://idratherbewriting.com where the podcasts and other blog topics are published. For an index of all podcasts, see https://idratherbewriting.com/podcasts.

Location:

United States

Description:

A technical writing podcast about the latest trends and practices in the field of technical communication. Technical communication includes topics like technical writing (software help), AI, information architecture, usability, API documentation, information design, web design, illustration, DITA, structured authoring, content strategy, visual communication, and more. If you're a technical writer or interested in technical writing, this is the one of few podcasts in this niche. I also have a blog at https://idratherbewriting.com where the podcasts and other blog topics are published. For an index of all podcasts, see https://idratherbewriting.com/podcasts.

Twitter:

@tomjohnson

Language:

English

Contact:

408-781-2129


Episodes

[Podcast] Breaking ground: New API documentation course at UW, with Bob Watson

1/5/2024
In this podcast, I chat with Bob Watson about an upcoming API documentation course he'll be teaching at the University of Washington. Bob has extensive experience working as an API technical writer at big tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. The UW reached out to Bob to develop this new course offering. The 14-week evening course will cover fundamentals like understanding developer behaviors, working with various types of APIs, publishing workflows, as well as hands-on practice. A key component is having students create API documentation portfolios they can use to demonstrate their skills.

Duration:00:53:05

My 2024 technical writing trends and predictions

1/1/2024
I've been mulling over whether to write a trends post this year. There's so much uncertainty, it's hard to feel confident about how the tech writing profession will play out. But little trends-related ideas keep surfacing in the back of my mind, so I decided to write out some of my thoughts. Before I jump into this, I want to say that I’m much more agnostic and unsure about directions this year. 2024 could be amazing, it could also be terrible. Or everything could be overblown and remain more or less the same. One thing is for sure: in predictions,...

Duration:00:28:28

Podcast: Notes and themes from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

12/15/2023
These are some notes and thoughts from reading Robert Pirsig's classic philosophical novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, published in 1974. My reading here focuses more on the technical writing aspects and themes from the book. Some themes include Classic versus Romantic modes of thought, the concept of Quality, our relationship with technology, doing your own maintenance, caring about the work, peace of mind, systems thinking, multiple paths through a problem, troubleshooting, being in-the-scene versus removed, the road trip, effortless action, going with the flow, traveling along the backroads, and presence in the moment. I also include some...

Duration:01:03:29

Webinar recording: Experiments and use cases for AI from a tech writer’s perspective

12/13/2023
I recently gave a webinar titled 'Experiments and use cases for AI from a tech writer’s perspective' on December 8, 2023. The webinar was sponsored by the STC Washington, DC - Baltimore Chapter. In this presentation, I shared some personal experiences in using AI for different writing-related use cases, explaining what I’ve found helpful. These use cases and takeaways were all experiential, based on my experiments with using AI both in the workplace for documentation-related scenarios and writing on my blog.

Duration:01:02:34

30+ ways I’m using AI in everyday writing life as a technical writer, blogger, and curious human

12/4/2023
In this post, I provide over 30 real-life examples of how I'm using AI on a daily basis, not just for technical writing tasks but more broadly in life, including summarizing content, explaining concepts, answering questions, troubleshooting problems, and having engaging conversations for a variety of tasks and scenarios. In my view, AI use cases are ubiquitous, equivalent to the use cases for computers or the Internet in general.

Duration:00:44:33

Podcast: The evolution of podcasting, with Ed Marsh

12/3/2023
In this podcast, I talk with Ed Marsh about podcasting. You may have listened to Ed Marsh's Content Content podcast previously. As an experienced podcaster, Ed has a lot of insights and thoughts about podcasting. We discuss what initially drew him to start podcasting, the equipment and logistics involved in podcasting, different formats that engage listeners (from co-hosts to single person podcasts, and more), incorporating AI tools, why podcasters often go on hiatus, the ongoing appeal of podcasting, and more.

Duration:00:57:24

Podcast: Tech writing and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, with Dan Grabski

11/18/2023
In this episode, I chat with Dan Grabski, a senior content developer based in Portland, both about his recent WTD talk titled 'Zen and the Art of Manually Creating API Documentation' and Robert Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.' Dan explains the importance of focusing not just on technical details of implementations but also on integrating the people side — on understanding the perspectives of different users and stakeholders involved. Dan provides examples from his engineering background to illustrate how intuition develops from experience, how to avoid spectator mode through hands-on exploration of APIs, on carving out time...

Duration:00:42:12

Doing research with AI tools -- avoiding the trap of fabricated URLs

11/9/2023
In this short podcast, I explore using AI tools to do research, the potential for fake URLs, and how to deal with the fabrication. I started by using Claude to summarize a podcast and provide a list of salient points, including the potential counterargument. What I didn't expect was for Claude to fabricate a list of imagined research and then summarize the fictitious research to conclude that it lended support for the counterargument. I took Claude's list of research and pasted it into ChatGPT with Bing to browse the real-time web to validate the sources. Using Claude and ChatGPT in...

Duration:00:14:56

Notes for Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality

11/6/2023
In Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett describe how the Dutch achieved so much cycling success, and how other cities might do the same. The authors bring up a variety of techniques and approaches the Dutch have used, such as seamlessly integrating cycling with public transit, pursuing customized strategies based on each city's unique landscape and culture, taking an iterative approach to infrastructure, using tactical urbanism and prototyping, and more.

Duration:00:49:01

My experience trying to write original, full-length human-sounding articles using Claude AI

10/25/2023
You can use AI tools like Claude to help you write full-length content. By going paragraph-by-paragraph, you can direct the AI while seemingly maintaining your own voice and ideas. However, despite my attempts to use AI with writing, I've found that it's harder to pull off than I thought. I can get close, but due to the way AI tools are trained, they inevitably steer into explanation more than argument. This can remove much of the interest from a personal essay.

Duration:00:37:30

Chatting about AI trends and tech comm with Fabrizio Ferri Benedetti

10/20/2023
In this podcast, I chat with Fabrizio Ferri Benedetti, a tech writer in Barcelona who blogs at passo.uno and works for Splunk, about various AI news topics. We talk about the Forrester AI jobs impact forecast, the community element in documentation, the way the profession is changing with AI, content design roles with LLMs, how complex processes and interactions can't be automated, whether the word 'content' is problematic, and more.

Duration:00:49:01

[Podcast] AI and APIs: What works, what doesn't

10/14/2023
In conversations about AI, a lot of tech writers are asking what kind of scenarios is AI good for? What works, what doesn’t? In which scenarios? You may have read my responses to these questions before in previous posts, but this time I recorded a podcast with slides. In the podcast, I try to pull together these ideas into more of a narrative shape and flow. This podcast focuses on clarifying those scenarios where AI excels and where it doesn’t, particularly for technical writers creating documentation. I also argue for the inevitability of AI integration through an argument referred to...

Duration:01:00:58

Presentation recording: Specialization myopia syndrome and the content journey

3/7/2023
This is a recording of a presentation called Specialization myopia syndrome and the content journey, which I gave to a company's private tech comm event. With their permission, I'm posting it here. You can watch the recording via YouTube or listen the audio file as a podcast.

Duration:00:50:52

Podcast: All about Redocly, with founder Adam Altman

2/26/2023
In this podcast, I chat with Adam Altman all about Redocly, an authoring/publishing tool for creating API documentation. Topics we discuss include why he started Redocly, the approach to API doc tools, what explains the continued popularity of Redocly, the docs-as-code approach to API tooling, and more.

Duration:00:36:16

Podcast about Archbee -- a new documentation tool with a block-based editor, API publishing capability, content re-use, and more

10/31/2022
Archbee is a relatively new documentation tool that offers a block-based editor, API publishing capability, content re-use, and more. The initial version of Archbee was released in early 2019. Since then, the product has been steadily ramping up in features and growing its customer base. In this podcast, I chat with Claudiu Dascalescu about Archbee, the features driving its adoption, their target audience, and more.

Duration:00:29:09

Keynote presentation to STC India 2022

3/26/2022
This post is part of a series that explores tech comm trends that I've either followed or forgotten, and why. The overall goal is to better understand the reasons that drive trend adoption or abandonment in my personal career. This post contains a keynote presentation I gave to STC India on March 26, 2022.

Duration:00:57:10

[Podcast] Become a technical writer: conversation with Bobby Kennedy about the technical writing courses he offers

2/21/2022
I recently chatted with Bobby Kennedy to learn more about the technical writing courses he's offering at becometechnicalwriter.com. In this podcast, he shares a bit about why he started offering technical writing courses, some of the activities and strategies in the courses, and the outcomes so far.

Duration:00:29:50

MEGAComm recording: How to increase awareness of tech comm inside corporate walls

2/10/2022
I recently gave a presentation called How to increase awareness of tech comm inside corporate walls at the MEGAComm 2022 conference, which is a conference for tech comm professionals in Israel. The recording, slides, and description of my presentation are available below.

Duration:00:52:23

Presentation recording -- 'Best practices in API docs: Product overviews and getting started tutorials'

10/29/2021
I recently gave an online presentation about product overviews and getting started tutorials in API docs, sponsored by the STC Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Chapter. This post provides a recording of the presentation and related details.

Duration:01:01:32

tcworld China 2021 keynote: 'Tech comm and marketing: How to make your tech comm group more visible to those within your company'

9/16/2021
I recently gave a keynote presentation at tcworld China 2021 on the topic of tech comm and marketing. This post provides a recording of the presentation, slides, and detailed notes for the presentation.

Duration:01:10:42