Thor’s Hammer and other reasons that superheroes don’t make good technical writers, but that technical writers can be good superheroes

Presentation Abstract

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

Let’s face it, the documentation for Thor’s Hammer leaves more questions than answers:

  • How is “worthy” determined?
  • Who or what is Thor?
  • What power does Thor actually possess?
  • How do you access that power with the hammer?

Nevertheless, at least someone actually tried. In the Disney/Marvel movies, Tony Stark just gives Peter Parker a Spiderman suit, with no instructions whatsoever, leaving a teenage boy to simply figure it out on his own. In his latest movie, Ant-Man has no troubleshooting information to determine why his suit is malfunctioning. In fact, the superhero world seems riddled with a plethora of undocumented technology, simply waiting to cause problems for the hero at just the most inopportune moment. Yet, is this really much different from our everyday, mere mortal existence? Are we not faced with programs and equipment that we must use correctly and troubleshoot rapidly everywhere we turn? The difference? Our superhero technical writers who enable users everywhere to complete their tasks efficiently and effectively.

Just like their movie counterparts, these superheroes are also armed with special tools and extraordinary powers. And with great power, comes great responsibility. Join Dawn as she examines the utility belt of the technical communicator and discusses how we can save the world, one carefully crafted sentence at a time.

Meet the Presenter

Dawn Stevens is the President, and owner of Comtech Services and the Director of the Center for Information-Development Management. With over 25 years of experience, including 15 years at Comtech, Dawn has practical experience in virtually every role within a documentation and training department, including project management, instructional design, writing, editing, and multimedia programming. With both engineering and technical communication degrees, Dawn combines a solid technical foundation with strong writing and design skills to identify and remove the challenges her clients face in producing usable, technical information and training.

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