Did you notice that we live in exciting times? it's exciting to be in the technical communications world today! Why is that?

Everywhere you look at the world of technology, there is this excitement due to the new possibilities and the wave of innovations around metadata, artificial intelligence, machine learning and chat-bots. It becomes common and natural to receive some form of user assistance from a machine in one way or another. For example, when you want to ask a question and the machine is helping you find the right answer.

The machine has become a powerful beast that can bring information and knowledge to man that needs it.


But is that reality? Is the machine the one in charge? I would say "No!".

It's actually the development team and the technical writer who together make sure that we tame the beast and put it to work for the user.

This is where the whole story begins - it is about who controls the machine!

If you have not figured it out yet, here is the one thing that the machine needs to work and bring value to the end user - it's the information! Information on how to use the product, the feature; when to do step 1 and when step 2. Which are the prerequisites for the end-user to fulfill and how to achieve them.

The beast needs this information, it needs to be able to access it, crawl and search thorough it, figure out what link to provide to answer to the user...

But wait a minute - how actually the machine could know all that? And where did this information come from?

The information is the documentation that the technical writer has written, it is the instructional video that he or she has created, it is the info-graphic that was crafted.

You need to realize that to properly prepare the information for consumption, it is not enough to simply prepare a nice documentation structure. You also need to make it possible for the machine to understand the information you are providing. And yeah, the machines can't read!

However, they can consume metadata and this identify the patterns in your content. And a machine can be feed with metadata that instructs the machine for the meaning of the things.

Who feeds the machine?

As an information architect of your content, it is you who is in charge of defining this metadata and how to present and organize it in a way that the end-user and the machine can understand.

This is what we are talking about in the workshop on How to Build Taxonomies.

What is metadata? How to identify the metadata? How to organize it in a meaningful way? How to decide what to take and what to leave out when building the taxonomy?

Once you build your taxonomy, you will end up with a powerful tool: taxonomies allow you to bring together deliverables from various places. They over ache and guide your users directly and precisely to the knowledge you have to share with them.

Taxonomies are the plow you use to bring order in your information landscape.

They allow you to:

  • achieve common understanding among the people in your company
  • define controlled vocabularies
  • aggregate different products based on common characteristics
  • influence the search experience and behavior of the user.
  • bring the needed information in a way that is consumable by the machine.

This means that you, the technical writers are in control of this field!

Is you are interested to learn more, try our course on How to Build Product Taxonomies!