I suppose I owe those who read this site something a bit more upbeat regarding last year than my previous post-2008 post. So I wanted to focus on one of the very positive things that happened to us last year.
My job at Bentley.
I had a good feeling about this position from early on, partly due to happening across the BE Communities site (as I posted earlier). I had joined before actually officially coming to work but due to a back-end issue, wasn’t able to start blogging for a couple of months afterwards.
And though blogging isn’t exactly my primary role as the tech writer for the structures group, I felt like this was a good way to apply some of my interests to my job. It also happens that I work for a company that has really embraced giving it’s employees a voice.
I think over the past couple of years, we’ve all read or heard of companies that have gone “transparent.” That is, they allow employees &emdash; often high-ranking or at least high-profile employees &emdash; to speak plain truths to the masses. They start blogs, create podcasts, guest on news programs, and so on. Those who do so with success are often the humble who are willing to admit being human. They seem unfiltered and honest. When they speak of success or make promises, they seem that much more believable. And there’s good evidence this strategy works in a market of cynics and skeptics, all connected to the giant megaphone that is the internets.
And I, for one, think this is a good thing.
Which is great now that I’m working for an employer that gives not only all of its employees an open account on the company’s site from which to blog, edit wikis, etc. but they also provide this for their users as well. Basically, it is total access to any and all employees1 from every level of the company: from the CEO (who does post at least as much as I do!) down to every new employee. It has quickly become a part of the company culture. Much to the credit of the Bentley brothers, they appear to fully believe in the benefit of this open community of employees and users. One area is the use of wikis for documentation purposes. Of course we’re still internally working out the mechanics of just how to make the best use of wikis for this. We have already put a lot of FAQs, TechNotes, tutorials, and user manuals in wiki format already, though.
In addition to producing some blog posts, wiki pages, and screencasts for work, I’ve of course been writing documentation for software. This, too, has been a fun learning experience. Of course I enjoy writing — you’re reading a blog, aren’t you? I’ve also learned that the technical writing industry is moving towards adopting a lot of the same changes that are happening in the world of Web 2.0. Namely, using symmantic, structured documents which can be re-styled and re-mixed for different document destinations (think: web-based help, user manual, installation guide, etc). I’ve also gotten the opportunity to be a part of this.
So, if it isn’t obvious, I’ve been enjoying this immensely. I’ve been given the opportunity to actually make use of my hobby-level interest in all things web. Some of the things I’ve learned in working on this site have directly helped me in my current job. It’s been a perfect combination for me of my professional background (structural engineering) and my interests in other areas of technology and the web.
Going forward, as I’m becoming more familiar with the technical writing community, I plan on posting some findings and thoughts here on my experiences. But before I get into that (and the inevitable rants and complaints that will come), I wanted to just say how wonderful it has been to find a job that ended up being a perfect fit for my interests.
- Employees who wish to contribute, of course. Not all employees are as active for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that they’re actually kind of busy). However, as you can see, there’s some good incentive to for them to do so. [↩]