Tech comm trends: Providing value as a generalist in a sea of specialists (Part I)

Tom Johnson, is a technical writer at Amazon and a prolific blogger. I’ve been after him to speak at our chapter meetings when he visits Seattle, but so far, no luck. He lives in the Bay Area, but does visit Seattle pretty often as Seattle is headquarters for Amazon.

Tom recently published an insightful article on his blog site that I am reposting here. If you are considering your direction and future as a technical writer, this is a great analysis of the field and the direction it seems to be moving in, with one exception, IMHO. There is software that is complex enough to require documentation, but as interfaces do improve, the day is coming when even that software will be simplified and developers will develop tools that remove the need for us technical writers. It is just a long way off for medical, laboratory, engineering, and many other fields. So software documentation isn’t dead, but on the whole, the type of software we document is more complex as UI improvements change the way end user software functions.

I’ve been trying to talk UW into adding more classes or a second program for technical writers who want to become programmer technical writers and this article provides some good justification to support that request.

Here is the link to the article. It is multi-part article, so be prepared to take a little time to read all 7 parts.

If you read the article and are interested enough to have a discussion about it, I’d be happy to put an online meeting event together. Just reach out to me at

Also, Tom’s site is a treasure trove of information, especially if you are interested in becoming a programmer/technical writer. I highly recommend that you check it out.