I realized I’ve never really talked much about what I do and where I work on this blog.
I’m an Information Architect* at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh that employs about 20 people. Our specialty is streamlining business processes that involve information, including things like policies and procedures, product documentation, and portal design. The company has been around since 1989, when it started as a technical writing firm. In the 90’s with the advent of knowledge management, the company got involved with wider issues around organizing information, such as portals and intranets.
I’ve worked here since 2003, and my job duties involve all parts of the information life cycle. On some projects, I’m essentially a technical writer: I gather source materials, interview subject matter experts, and write documents like procedures or user manuals. I’m also the “techie guy”, and much of my work involves designing efficient publishing processes that can take advantage of reusable information and publish it in many formats. Much of our documentation is based on XML formats that can be flexibly repurposed into, e.g., a print manual, online help, training slides, web-based interactive training, and so on. And finally, we help businesses organize and manage all this information as well, helping them understand their needs for content management systems, portals, intranets, etc., and how to integrate those tools into their ways of doing business.
So that’s what I do. It takes a broad range of skills, from technical writing, to indexing and classification, to thinking about usability and accessibility, to markup and scripting, to systems administration. I can’t say I’m especially good at many of those, but I muddle through somehow.
*I’m still not sure I really know what that means, but it looks pretty on my business card.