Technical Writing

People often ask me about what I do, so here are some answers. Get in touch if you want to know more.

What the heck is technical writing?

Any writing that helps you use a machine, a piece of software, or other tools. When you buy a new coffee maker, it comes with an owner’s manual. Someone had to write that.

Technical writers make complex systems understandable. You have to be comfortable asking dumb questions. You have to know your audience. But the weird thing is, you don’t have to fully understand something to write about it.

One of the most important skills a technical writer can learn is knowing how deep to dive. Too shallow, you sound like a newbie. Too deep, you’ll miss the point.

How many tech writing jobs have you had?

Three. After I quit teaching, I wrote for an IT consulting company. I didn’t know anything about IT; they assumed I could learn on the job. The company specialized in assessments, so I got to learn about network infrastructure—switches, routers, firewalls, cabling—while figuring out how to structure really long documents, mostly in Word.

Three years later, I got a job at Bloomberg writing user guides for the Bloomberg Terminal. Almost no work was done in Word. Once again, I knew nothing about the subject matter (this time it was finance). It was fascinating, and I was working at a large company for the first time.

Two years after that, a recruiter from Google called. My background in network security was a great fit for a new role in Google Cloud.

Do you know how to code?

Not really. I can puzzle out languages.

What do you write about now?

I research issues of security and privacy in Google Cloud for internal audiences.

Can you give an example?

I can give a public one. Google has a public service that lets you fuzz test your code. I worked on the documentation for the service.

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