Nicky Bleiel is coming to Denver in April to talk to us about github. Here are her responses to our questions:
RMC: How long have you been in technical communication?
NB: 22 years
RMC: How did you get your start?
NB: My first tech comm job was at a simulation software company. I was hired to work on a large set of hard-copy manuals, but within a month or two, I was asked to move everything to online help. I just had to figure out how to do it!
RMC: What are the top three skills a communicator should have?
NB: Research, organization, negotiation (writing is a given)
RMC: What is your favorite thing about being a technical communicator?
NB: There is always something new to learn. Never a dull moment!
RMC: What tools do you use?
NB: One of the tools I use is Oxygen, for editing DITA topics.
RMC: How do you stay current with issues related to technical communication?
NB: I read STC’s Intercom and attend the Summit every year! I also read tcworld magazine and several blogs, in addition to being a member of quite a few LinkedIn groups. And I keep my eye out for interesting webinars. Once you get yourself on enough email lists, the educational opportunities will come pouring in.
RMC: What advice would you give to people who want to begin a career as a technical communicator?
NB: Build a portfolio of work whatever way you can — contribute to open source projects, attend local tech meetings and look for opportunities to volunteer to collaborate on a project. Join STC. Read.
RMC: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be?
NB: An event planner or a magazine editor.
RMC: Favorite industry book?
NB: So many! But one of my recent favorites is Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra
RMC: Favorite fun tool or gadget?
NB: SuperTintin is a tool you can use to record Skype video. I have used it many times for interviewing people for Intercom or STC’s Notebook blog. You can record picture-in-picture or side-by-side video. It’s easy-to-use and flexible.
RMC: Favorite book?
NB: Impossible to choose! I’ll say anything by Steinbeck. And I love biographies.
RMC: Favorite word?
NB: Onomatopoeia, though it is hard to work into conversations.
RMC: Website you visit every day?
RMC: Favorite travel location?
NB: It’s always fun to visit new places.
RMC: Something else?
NB: I’m hoping to complete a project I can demonstrate at Maker Faire this fall.
Nicky Bleiel is a Watson Information Developer at IBM. She is a Past President of the Society for Technical Communication and has over 20 years of experience writing and designing content for software products in a variety of industries; including documentation, media, industrial automation, simulation, and pharmaceutical. See nickybleiel.com for a list of her talks and publications.