Alan Moore speaks the truth

March 24th, 2009

Sorry for holding out on you, but Wired has a good interview with Alan Moore.

Near the end, he talks about the corrosive effect of too much money on storytelling:

It removes artistry and imagination and places money in the driver's seat, and I think it's a pretty straight equation—that there is an inverse relationship between money and imagination.
...
...if they have $100 million, say, pulling a figure out of the air, to spend upon their film, then they somehow don't see the need for giving it a decent story or decent storytelling. It seems like those values just go completely out the window.

This is something that I've believed for a while (which, obviously, makes it true), and goes with my theory that too much success ruins creativity.

Just try to tell me that you read Moore's quote and didn't think about George Lucas. (Or Michael Bay's entire career, but it's not like he started with any artistic talent or integrity.)

Artists need to suffer. Happy artists don't produce good things. Which is why I really appreciate it when creative people that I respect, such as, say, Harlan Ellison, do their best to manufacture their own suffering, when required.

Random information about me

March 23rd, 2009

Whenever I see something about Capoeira fighting, I always read it both as "a Brazilian martial art," and as capybara, the rather large rodent.

So a game named Capoeira Fighter is either about giant rodents kicking the crap out of things, or about kicking the crap out of large, slow rodents. One of those is more awesome than the other.

But now that I think about it, I'm honestly not sure which one that is.

Classy, CNN

March 18th, 2009

Poorly juxtaposed Brain Stories

This amused me

March 17th, 2009

Cat Stories

Which does a good job of reinforcing their point about "the dangers are many."

What's my line (part 2)?

March 10th, 2009

So, back onto the topic of "what the hell does my job involve?".

So far, the Web Style Guide is probably the best-all around book that I've read. It summarizes Information Architecture, usability, project planning, and, of course, web page design and layout. All in 312 pages, and it's not a dry slog of a read. I mean, it's no Tim Powers novel, but it's a style guide, after all.

Based on that, and the other books that I've read, I figure that my job as "technical writer" actually encompasses these roles (most of these are pulled from "Web Team Roles and Responsbilities", in the Web Style Guide):

  • Knowledge management
  • Information architect
  • Web designer
  • Quality assurance tester
  • Media specialist
  • Usability lead
  • Art director and Graphic designer
  • Site editor
  • Content domain expert

Eventually, I'll need to learn more about CSS, and "CSS coder", or whatever, will be added to that list.

Fortunately, I'm working with a very capable junior tech writer. She's not only writing a large part of the content, but I've also been relying on her to do more of the graphic design, and the "media specialist" role (creating Flash tutorials).

Oh, and I also created a training course recently, and I'll probably be running the course in a couple of weeks. So that can go onto the list.

Day to day, I'm juggling half a dozen tasks, usually answering questions about the documentation, suggesting UI improvements, tracking the programmers' changelists to look for new features, testing those features, editing a doc written by the other tech writer, tracking changes that other people are making to the docs, sending task requests to my producer (a job that I'm happy to offload), and maybe even trying to get some content written. Which usually means that less than half of what I do is really "technical writing."

When I take a second to step back and evaluate my role, I can appreciate how much it covers. And that's freakin' amazing. This is exactly what I want to be doing, even though I'm constantly worried that I'm not getting enough done.

I've been in similar positions before, and I know full well that any lone tech writer in a small company is probably filling a similar number of roles. The neat thing is that now I'm better able to quantify and describe what I do, instead of just "Oh, I'm a technical writer." Now I can bore people to tears by telling them that I'm a tech writer, information architect, knowledge manager, master of screenshots and crappy flowcharts, site editor, etc. This is absolutely, completely, and utterly information that makes me happy, but which I would never expect anyone else to care about.

Hell, when people ask what I do, I just tell them that I document the game-creation tools that we build. Which is true, at least about half of the time.