For years I have tried to navigate a healthy relationship with social media, with limited success. Though I deleted Twitter from my phone and silenced my Facebook notifications, I became attached to Instagram and was still checking it (and Facebook) many times a day. That changed a week ago after I listened to a podcast on digital minimalism. The podcast didn't just bring up the usual arguments against social media. It presented an attractive vision of focused living. That combination---damning evidence and the beauty of a more fulfilled life---is what finally pushed me to go on a social media fast.
Design expert Donald Norman has written that when people are anxious, they narrow their thought processes. Conversely when people are happy, they become more creative and imaginative at solving problems. If this is true, it means that one of the best things a technical writer can do is create beautiful content that moves readers to a happier, more adaptive emotional state. Or so I contend.
Technical writers usually think of their job in functional terms: to help end users know or do something. Creating beautiful content is typically not seen as a core part of the equation. But what if technical writers thought of themselves as artists whose aim is to create a thing of beauty? Isn't that, in the end, what makes for a good user experience?
“The only part of an argument that really matters is what we think of the people arguing." So goes one line in this passage from Kim Stanley Robinson's sci-fi novel about settlers on Mars. I think it's more true than we want to admit.
It's quite simple, really: A public pension, encouragement to keep going, and assurance that not all the stories worth telling have been told.
I just published an article on how documentation can enable sales. Here's an annotated list of the resources I used in my research.
Well, whaddya know? Turns out there are advantages to retreating from the frenzy of politics and pursuing beauty as an end in itself.
In which I got some sweet books from a used book sale and started reading Sanderson's 'The Way of Kings' despite initial misgivings. Brief updates too on my essay and fiction writing.
"None of us know what will happen. Don't spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That's it." ~Laurie Anderson
Lent, Rembrandt, and updates on various writing projects (just submitted another article, yay!). Recommended readings on MLK and celibacy.