* The TentuPlay People series introduces the roles and responsibilities of the staff at TentuPlay (Sentience, Inc.). This time, we met technical writer Scott!
Scott is in charge of technical documentation and document engineering at TentuPlay. As an expert on technical communication and API based on information structuring and visualization, Scott has accumulated years of experience in information and communications, medical imaging, and biometrics.
Now, let’s learn more about how it is being a technical writer.
Q. Hi, Scott! Please introduce yourself.
Hello. My name is Scott, and I’m a technical writer at TentuPlay.
Q. What does a technical writer do?
Let me give you an example. You asked, "What does a technical writer do?“ A technical writer gives different answers depending on who is asking this question.
- Someone familiar with Wikipedia-like definitions: A professional writer of technical content or technical information.
- Someone preparing for the real estate exam: An information agent who facilitates communication between information producers and information consumers.
- Someone working in the manufacturing industry: A person who writes product manuals.
- Developer: A programmer is someone who uses the language of machines to make machines work better. Similarly, a technical writer is someone who uses the language of humans to make humans work better. Technical documents are instances under the class of technical writing.
- Elementary school student: Let’s say you lost your way while traveling. You can ask for directions, or look up a map. A technical writer is someone who draws maps. It’s not always fun drawing maps for others, especially if you’re working on a familiar place. But there will be people who find the maps extremely useful.
Q. What is your role at TentuPlay?
I am in charge of writing and managing technical content, both internal and external. TentuPlay has a site dedicated to technical documents (Docs). The two areas I am involved in are the Docs platform and Docs content.
- Docs Platform
A platform is like a plate that holds information. My duties include choosing, building, and maintaining the Docs platform. Building a technical document site actually falls under the domain of front-end web development, not technical writing. Thanks to Jamstack, even non-developers like myself can magically create static sites. We switched from a SaaS subscription to Jamstack, and the site has now entered a more stable phase. Of course, there are still some functions to be added.
- Docs Content
The documents are written in Korean and English, and translated into other languages (e.g. Japanese) by a translation company. Adding and modifying content fall under the general routine of technical writers. The ability to make global improvements is a privilege I get to have. This is still possible because the service has not yet seen explosive growth (laughs).
Q. Do you have special tips on conveying information in an accurate and easy-to-understand manner when writing technical documents?
Special tips? Not really (laughs). I think it’s the same for everyone.
- Learn it. (You can only write about what you know.)
- Try it. (You have to experience a place before drawing a map.)
- Use it.
- Get feedback. (If there’s no one to give feedback, look at your own document while pretending to be a reader.)
- Fix it.
Q. What do you think is the most important when writing a technical document?
The most important factors are the users’ purpose of viewing a technical document, and how they feel when reading it.
In UX methodology, there are steps for customer journey mapping. The mapping process includes drawing an empathy map. How do users feel when looking up a technical document? It will be quite different from the moment when they’re about to hit play on their favorite OTT drama or when clicking on the latest episode of a webtoon. They will most likely be reading the document to obtain information or simply because they are required to. Their emotional state will be, at best, neutral.
What about the documents? They should be organized in a way that allows readers to know which section contains relevant information. Having a search function will help save time and effort. The external appearance is also important. This can help readers ease into a better mood.
Q. When do you find your work most meaningful?
Never (laughs). Given the nature of my work, there are not many moments when I can say “Wow, it’s amazing how I solved that.” or “Wow, we did it!” Some smaller achievements that give me satisfaction are when users give positive feedback, when my colleagues remember me as a technical writer even after I left for some time to participate in a project, and when my colleagues give me a thumbs-up for something I wrote.
Q. What is it about TentuPlay that you are proud of?
I’m proud of our organizational transparency. TentuPlay’s recruitment notice was quite unique. It introduced team members related to the position and their current concerns. This was a culture shock as I had not seen other companies sharing such sensitive information. Now that I’m a member of TentuPlay, I can see that the recruitment notice was written in a way that reduces information asymmetry.
Q. What qualities do you hope to see in your future colleagues?
I’d like them to be fun people, but I can also enjoy working with those who are not. It would be ideal if they are like my current colleagues.
Q. Thank you for participating in this interview. Lastly, what would you like to achieve at TentuPlay?
I want to help my colleagues be better at what they do. I can do this by drawing maps for them, or by helping them in the drawing process.
Personally, I’m interested in applying gamification theory to technical documents. I also want to participate in a game development toy project. (I seem to be saying what’s on my wishlist rather than my goals.) I have seen developers becoming technical writers, but not vice versa. I would like to set an example. I was impressed when a Ruby developer of an open-source documentation tool introduced himself as a technical writer. It’s amazing how someone can be proficient in the languages of machines and humans.
I would love to do the same, but life is too short (laughs).