If you had just one day

We technical communicators are consummate professionals. We take our jobs seriously, 365 days a year.

We seek to inform, instruct, and assist. Never to entertain. We leave that to other, lesser scribblers. Yessir, we’re all business, all the time.

And yet….

What if we had one day when the rules were different? A day when we’d still write informative, accurate content, but when we could let our professional hair down just a little?

I’m not talking about writing some whimsical placeholder text, and then deleting or replacing it right away. I’m talking about an imaginary world in which we could have a whole day to write stuff that was off kilter, and publish it, and there’d be no repercussions.

Did you ever wish you could have a day like that? Did you ever think about what you’d do?

I’ve thought about it. I think my Policies and Procedures documentation might look something like this:

Humorous

Source: High Tech Panda (@HighTechPanda)

And my Terms and Conditions might look like this:

Humorous Terms & Conditions for software

Source: Chris Lindgren (@lndgrn)

Oh, wait. That second one’s real. Ah, the joys of writing for open-source projects!

What about you? What would you do if you had just one day? Know of any good examples you’d like to share?

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2 thoughts on “If you had just one day

  1. Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Larry,

    Thanks for the smiles. You ask for examples. Have you seen the website for the TeuxDeux (to-do) app: https://teuxdeux.com? Here’s an example of to-do items it gives: “Settle in Catan. Romance 4-5 stones.” Their demo videos weave in humor in a wonderfully helpful way, too. And their FAQ cracks me up—even as it tells me things I want to know. Example—”Q: I really need to create recurring tasks. A: We hear you on this. We don’t use TeuxDeux this way, but we get this request a lot. We’re going to spend some time thinking of the best way to implement it without injuring the overall interface. Also, not to nitpick, but that is more of a statement than a question.”

    UPDATE: Since I last looked, TeuxDeux has added this feature, so my Q and A example is now old. Here’s what I see on their home page today: “Recurring to-dos. If you’re like us, you’re always worried you’ll forget pants. Never again. Simply add ‘Put on pants every day’ to your to-do list, and TeuxDeux will make sure you never forget again.”

    Another example: the T-Mobile G1 “Getting Started” guide, (which I don’t find online anymore). Here’s a snippet: “Water will damage your phone and accessories—even a small amount such as water droplets from a soda in your car cup-holder, melting snowflakes, tears of joy, squirt-gun crossfire or steam from hot water in the kitchen or bathroom.” Any writer who pulls off saying “tears of joy” in a manual has my respect.

    Thanks go to tech writers nonpareil Amy Reyes and Mark Hartz for pointing me to these examples back when Scott Abel interviewed me and asked me what role humor can play in tech comm. (That interview was published in STC’s “Intercom” magazine, Nov/Dec 2012 issue.)

    For more tech-comm smiles, see the TechWhirl page dedicated to humor: http://techwhirl.com/category/technical-writing-magazine/lighter-side/

    Reply
    1. Larry Kunz Post author

      That’s great stuff. Thanks, Marcia. I especially enjoyed poking around on the TeuxDeux site: they’ve proven that, with the right audience, humor has a place in technical communication.

      Reply

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