Instruction manuals, users guides, and other types of documentation have always been the way manufacturers distributed the how-to information about their products to customers, as well as sales and support staff and other employees. This kind of catch-all, one-size document forces every user to sift through irrelevant information, applying their own context to find solutions to their problems. Even when they are successful, users remember the experience as painful and tedious.
There must be a better way. In 2008 we (Kees van Mansom and Thei Geurts) developed the concept of Documentation 3.0. In the same year we presented Documentation 3.0 at the ISTC Conference in Eastwood (UK). ISTC stands for The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators.
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Some time after the presentation, we renamed the concept of Documentation 3.0 and changed its name into Smart documentation. A white paper with the title "Improve Product and Brand engagement through smart documentation" was published in 2013 and can be found here.
See also this blog about 'Supporting the product life cycle with smart user-centric documentation'.