Interview: Bob Reselman


Tech documentation writer Bob Reselman will give a talk entitled "How to Make Technical Documentation Work in Your Organization" at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, in the LaJolla Room. The SCALE Team caught up with Bob for a brief interview.
Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: Sure, my name is Bob Reselman. I've been coding and writing about code and how organizations make code for just about twenty years. My first foray into technical writing was a side gig as a technical editor for MacMillan back in the DOS/Windows 95 days. Over the years I wrote a few books and quite a few articles for popular tech sites such as InformIT, DevX, and others. I've had the opportunity to work with some great writers, editors and thinkers in the tech field. I've learned a lot from these people, so much so, that I've been able to take what they've taught me and synthesize a philosophy on the art and practice of technical writing.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk you're giving (unless you want to), can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Over the last few years I've been thinking more about the infrastructures where technical writing takes place. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done working with individual contributors, helping them become better technical writers. But, I find it interesting that there's a lot of good documentation being created, but somehow a lot of it never gets used. Having organizations get more bang for the investment made in technical documentation is an enormous opportunity, not one to be missed.

I think there are many issues concerning the technical document infrastructure that can be addressed better by a change of understanding than an increase in capital expenditure. I intend to talk about different aspects of understanding the practice of technical writing and supporting technical documentation at the organizational level.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I spoke at SCALE a few years ago. I presented "The 7 Rules for Creating World Class Technical Documentation." You can read the article I wrote to support the talk here:

I think the SCALE is an enormously important event. The thing I find most impressive about SCALE is that it really is community driven. Yes, there is a a good deal of corporate sponsorship in play. But, the sponsorship is the grease the allows the wheels to spin more easily. SCALE happens because a bunch of people from all walks of the technical landscape take the time to make it happen. The overriding intent is about sharing one's passion for technology and about helping everybody get better at what they do, from grade school student to seasoned professional. From where I sit, SCALE is ongoing proof that doing technology can be a truly egalitarian undertaking.

[SCALE Team interview by Hannah Anderson]