Heidi Waterhouse
Heidi Waterhouse
Waterhouse Consulting
Mercenary Technical Writer
Heidi is a widely experienced technical writer with an interest in writing herself out of work. She specializes in creating entire documentation suites for new companies and products in less time than you would believe possible. She speaks on topics like search-led writing, starting new documentation products, and whistleblowing as a technical writer.
The Death of Data

There are certain inevitable things in life: death and taxes.

There is also the loss of knowledge. Data gets senile. It forgets its links, it only wants to tell you about the old days. Wikis overgrow like the thorns around Sleeping Beauty's castle, and reference manuals accrete into sedimentary layers. Even with search, we can't find what we're looking for. Too much documentation is as bad or worse than no documentation. We are building giant predictive structures on big data, but we are not evaluating the age or value of that data. Have you ever been boggled by your credit report? We are building thousands of reports like that with no consideration for the quality of the data we are using.

It is our responsibility, our moral obligation, to also attend to the death and burial of data. I'll give you some advice on when to kill off data, and how to go about it so you don't end up regretting your choices. I'll also discuss the reasons we need to be building lifespans into all our data, not just documents.