August 21, 2021: Writing for Retrieval

We are surrounded by more and more information, while our attention span steadily decreases. Given this reality, it becomes our responsibility as writers not just to document a product but to also design in retrieval; to write so that the user gets the right information at the right point in time. I will discuss this expanded role of the writer as architect of accessible information, go over some issues to consider when envisioning the infrastructure, and some techniques and technologies to leverage and adopt.

About Our Speaker

Rita Tharakan has worked in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry for over 25 years, bringing to market software and hardware products that make the design of chips possible. Over the years, she has architected information from the ground up, started international teams, and trained writers and product team members from all over the world. She is a past member of the STC and mentored the original group of writers who went on to set up STC India. As a senior manager at Synopsys, she currently heads a group of writers spread between India and the U.S.A. Her priority is the user, so beyond traditional documentation, she works closely with global product teams on the entire user experience. Her academic background includes a Master’s in English Literature and a degree in law.

Rita volunteers her time to work with the IEEE 1735 committee that is establishing a standard for data encryption so that IP can be safely shared between tools. She believes in mentoring, and enthusiastically participates in the State Department’s Tech Women program that hosts and works with women engineers and entrepreneurs from developing countries. Locally, she works 1 on 1 with students who are the first from their family to go to college, and in the past has helped refugee families work on their English and adapt to life in the US.

Rita does the rounds of multiple libraries to support her reading addiction, circulates her non-technical writing to a partisan audience, hides her mediocre voice in a choir, delights in exploring new places as often as she can, and has lessened her loathing of exercise with her Covid-time rediscovery of dancing and bike-riding.

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