The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference | 27–30 October 2024 | Portland, OR
Fawn Damitio

Fawn is a seasoned tech professional with a career spanning since the late ’90s. She’s held diverse roles such as PR specialist, project manager, content designer, and technical writer. In leadership roles, she has managed large documentation teams for Fortune 100 companies and currently leads documentation engineering  for Meta’s AI Infra, Integrity, and Data Infra groups.
Beyond corporate endeavors, Fawn actively teaches and mentors, empowering graduate students and underprivileged individuals in writing and technical skills. She’s also a daily meditator and teaches yoga and mindfulness.

Fawn holds a BS in Journalism and an MA in English Literature. With a love for technology and a commitment to empowering others, she remains a guiding force in the dynamic tech landscape.

Metamorphosis: Empowering Our Craft’s Evolution in the Dawn of Gen AI’s Era

Co-presented with: Peggy Sanchez

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change. —Charles Darwin
In the 90s, there was an obscure function beginning to emerge in tech called “human factors.” This field worked mostly on making consumer goods, and particularly electronic consumer goods, more usable. Around this same time, psychologist Don Norman joined Apple. No doubt, Steve Jobs was exploring the Human Factors as a trend and brought Norman on board to explore it more deeply. As Norman dug into this at Apple, he created an umbrella term that encompassed human factors but also included all human interactions with devices: mental, physical, and psychological. Here arose, seemingly out of dust, the now booming industry of UX.
But did it really rise out of nowhere? Those of us old enough to have been working at this time, knew that much of what “”UX”” and Human Factors did was something that technical writers already did informally. As the first consumers of products, we were strong advocates of product usability. We commonly shaped the design and direction of products with our usability feedback.  After all, the entire point of technical content was to help people better use products.  Then why was it that Jobs, Norman, and seemingly the rest of the industry ended up whole-heartedly embracing UX while continuing to declare  “”No one reads the documentation.””?
The case that could be made then, and still today, that it all comes down to our overall lack of expertise in marketing and branding. Many of us “”hard core tech writers”” shun marketing as “”fake”” or “”unnecessary fluff.”” Even those of us who don’t deride the practice often have little or no experience in leveraging its tools. But there is tremendous power within the craft of a well-marketed rebrand.
We missed the boat in the 90s. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, with GenAI, we have been given a second chance.  Language and technology are our areas of expertise, after all. In many ways, there is no other industry so well-poised to take the reins of this emerging field than our industry. But will we?
In this talk, we will propose the amalgamation of our work into a rebranded function that fuses our expertise in usability, language, information architecture, and software engineering. We will also equip you with the tools that you need to carry this message forward to your leaders. This is a talk not to be missed.