Episode 83: Tools, Technical Writing, & You with Ben Goddard
Writing elegant code is one thing, but communicating how it works to the wider world is another. This is where technical writers come into the mix and today on the show, we have one in the hot seat! Ben is a technical writer for a company that specializes in remote team collaboration software and he joins us to talk about how he got into the profession, what his workflow looks like, and the kind of value that people like him bring to teams. We hear about Ben’s technical background and how he decided to switch from a troubleshooting role into something more creative and fulfilling. He talks about his favorite tools for note-taking, image editing, writing, and refining his work. We also hear about how he relates with tech teams to learn about a particular product, and what his iterative process of research and writing involves. And if that was not enough, Ben dishes out some great tips for how programmers and technical writers can collaborate more effectively. Today’s conversation also meanders into many other subjects aside from technical writing, so expect to hear the panel’s thoughts on image processing gadgets, Apple versus Staedtler styluses, game programming using Bash, and a whole lot more!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Ben introduces himself with the standard greeting in the artificial language Esperanto.
- The value of technical writers and Alex and Tessa’s experience working with them.
- Ben’s background as a technical troubleshooter and how he got into technical writing.
- The procedure followed at Ben’s company to release articles explaining how new products work.
- Tools Ben and his company use for note-taking, templating, storing, and publishing.
- The favorite tools of Alex, Ben, and Tessa’s for writing, presentations, and more.
- How to get the best deal on a Photoshop subscription and which apps are a good alternative.
- Different cameras and image processing technology the panel has encountered.
- Building things in the most complicated way: CodePen meme templates and Ben’s shell scripts.
- Ben’s love of interactive fiction and how he learned if-then logic building MUD games.
- How bad the design of the Apple Pencil 1 is and why other styluses are better.
- The panel’s knowledge of sentence structure and gendered words in different languages.
- Tips from Ben for how programmers can communicate more effectively with technical writers.
- More tips from Ben for how programmers without technical writers can create good documentation.
- How dev teams without technical writers can advocate for hiring one.
- Where to find Ben online.
“I decided I would maybe not like to troubleshoot things and that it might be fun to teach about technical things, translate technical speak into something that was more digestible.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:04:49 ]
“I do a lot of writing on gut, at least for first drafts. You know, what sounds correct to say, and then I’ll use a tool to help me make sure that it’s the right sentence structure.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:34:55 ]
“Not everybody needs a technical writer but if you are trying to convey information to as wide an audience as possible it is good to hire somebody who is good with words.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:49:20 ]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Bear App
- Docs to Markdown Google Docs extension
- Adobe Photography Plan
- Polaroid Now Plus Camera
- Game Boy Camera
- Ellen Korbes’ photography project
- Plus Ergo Grip for Apple Pencil
- STAEDTLER’s Noris digital stylus
- Josh Darnit, YouTube (dad who follows instructions)
- Glass Reflection, YouTube
Find Ben Goddard online:
- TV: What We Do in the Shadows, Season 3 (Hulu)
- Movie: Old (TheMovieDb)
- Comics: Murder Falcon (Image comics)
- Anime: YuruCamp (MyAnimeList)
- Book: Wildwood (Goodreads)
- Razer Kishi game controller
- The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did), Philippa Perry
- Jet 90 Complete Cordless Stick Vacuum, Samsung
Special Guest: Ben Goddard.