Rose sits down for a chat with Brightspot content director Mark Hoover for his insights on the power of the Brightspot platform and what it takes to synthesize and communicate highly technical CMS concepts to diverse audiences. He also shares about his love of movie-making, a talent he also puts to good use while producing a variety of video content at work.
How long have you worked for Brightspot? What brought you here?
I started in January 2020, which means I’ve been with the company a little over two and half years. When I graduated from college, I worked as a reporter for a government contracting news magazine company, and I used a CMS there. I was the embodiment of that use case that we like to describe at Brightspot, of the reporter needing to use a CMS to file stories, send newsletters, and things like that. I learned a lot about content management systems, and I enjoyed using a CMS back then. In that role, I would also interview a lot of technology companies, and I became fascinated by them, so I knew my next move was to work for one. I did that for a couple of years, and then decided I would take my CMS experience and my love of technology and combine the two, and I found Brightspot. I figured that that would be a happy marriage of the experience I had and the type of experience that I was craving, and that was what interested me. On top of that, when I learned more about Brightspot’s mission and how Brightspot serves the communities that it is a part of, that really resonated with me as well. So, now I am here and very happy to be.
Can you tell me more about your role as Director, Digital Content? What is a typical day like for you?
My role is threefold. I primarily head up our documentation team. We write technical documentation on how to use Brightspot and explainer content on why Brightspot was built the way that it is. I also write content for Brightspot.com, and I do a decent amount of video editing for our product demos and other video needs.
What do you find the most interesting about being a technical writer?
For me technical writing is a science versus an art. When people hear that someone is a writer they might think of classic or contemporary authors or maybe they’ll think of marketing writers, but for me technical writing is really more of a science. It’s figuring out how you successfully communicate a concept or give direction in a way that is concise yet effective across a varied audience. So I find that fascinating and I get a lot out of that.
What traits or characteristics make someone successful at technical writing?
First and foremost, a technical writer has to be curious about how a product works the way that it does. I think they also need to be analytical to try to go further and understand why the product works the way it does. Additionally, I think that a successful technical writer has to be a strong proponent of communication because that’s really what all writing is—it’s communicating a set of ideas to an audience, and getting that point across.
How have you grown professionally since starting at Brightspot?
The amount of knowledge that I have about technology is so much greater now than it was when first I started. That’s not to say that I don’t have so much more to learn, but I just feel much more confident and capable working for a technology company and in the work that I do than I did before. I have been enabled here, and it’s paid off in a big way, and continues to do so.
You've helped educate many customers and employees about Brightspot. What's the one thing you wish everybody knew about the platform?
From its inception, Brightspot was developed according to this core set of principles that we refer to as Dari. As Brightspot is still being developed many years later, those same principles are being respected and considered when we do development today. I think the fact that we were able to put that together so long ago, and that we still utilize these principles, is a testament to how strong of a product Brightspot is. These concepts have withstood the test of time. It has led to a lot of success for our customers.
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
This may seem a little redundant, but the technology; the actual platform. Again, having used a CMS elsewhere in my career, being able to use Brightspot just shows me how powerful and flexible of a product it is, especially compared to the one I was using before. There is basically nothing you can’t use Brightspot to do, and I love seeing new features developed for it. It’s an incredibly intuitive platform, and I use it every single day for many different reasons, so that would have to be my answer.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I play video games—probably too many! I love being outside. I finally started gardening this year. I play music. I am a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Lastly, something sort of related to what I do for work: I make a lot of home movies. I grew up watching my dad making home movies, and I make them now. At the end of every year, I’ll take all of the video clips that I’ve created, and I’ll edit them all together. I’ll put time stamps on them, and what I’m left with is this document of what that year was like that I can watch in the future or share with my future children. So, lots of hobbies!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would go to Japan, hands down. Everything I have ever learned about Japan resonates pretty deeply with me. I would love to make it there some day.
What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?
I actually don’t do a lot of formal reading like that, unfortunately, which is funny. You would think that I do, given what I do for a living. Most of my reading is the news and/or stories in a video game. I’ll gladly take recommendations.