Ryan Macklin (he/they) is what happens when you put software development, game design, user documentation, and neurodiversity into a blender. This human smoothee works today in security UX and user doc writing, specializing in human empathy with disconnected design. His massive cat lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so he does as well.
What is empathy advocacy?
Empathy advocacy is a name I use to describe a sub-field of technical communication centered on realistically repecting variable human emotions. Everyone comes to your thing—product, docs, emails, etc.—preloaded with an assortment of brain chemsitry, life experiences, and recent events in mind. Emapthy advocacy takes that on as a beautiful challenge.
"That's great!" it says. "We'll meet people where they are, as best we can when we're not able to talk with each one personally."
Emotional personas: writing for the human animal
Write the Docs Boston/Florida –
We know users aren't purely calm, logical beings. They get mad, bored, distracted, anxious, and so on. What does that mean when it comes to writing? It means cultivating empathy and understanding with the thousands of users you'll never see or hear from. A huge task!
That's where emotional personas come in. From Anxious Armadillo to Furious Ferret, each of these five animal-themed personas explores what people go through and how to guide them to a better mental space for processing your material.
5 things game design taught me about technical writing
Write the Docs Portland 2021 –
I cram five lessons book-based game design taught me about technical writing, and two lessons going the other way, into a breakneck lightning talk.
three careers, melded together
technical & UX writer
Feb 2015 –
the foreseeable future
From specialized clients to users of major multinational products, I've written for all sorts of audiences.
My favorite projects are the security systems and marketing products: security systems because I relish oppotunities to inject humanity and respect into moments of stress that frequently happen in security, and marketing because I likewise relish moments where I can help people feel like they're humans rather than mere "consumers."
game writer & editor
Jun 2007 –
somehow still occasionally
Between writing and editing, I've left my thumbprint on over 200 books. My highlights include the independent projects helmed by passionate people on shoestring budgets—people who, like me, want to respect the reader's time and attention by meeting them where they are. Which is to say, often as overly busy working adults. That approach led to a dozen industry awards and numerous acolades for my heaviest contributions to the community's body of work.
recovering software engineer
Mar 1998 –
I started as computer science major, thinking I would take an academic approach to a software career. In that time, as the world was figuring out how to make internet businesses work, developers like me did everything—front-end code, APIs before they were APIs, database admin, all that.
I went from thoughts of academia to being a jack-of-all-trades engineer, eventually landing a job with the California state government where. for fun, I reverse engineered and extended .NET libraries to make my coworkers' jobs easier. Writing the docs for those libraries got me on the path you see now.