Strange Bias

Pulling together my monthly column for the ISTC (I write about blogs, unsurprisingly), I noticed something rather odd. I really, sincerely, hope this isn’t something I’ve been unconsciously doing but it does seem that many of the technical communications blogs I follow, and which I feature in my monthly column, are written by men. Given that, for the bulk of my career, I was usually outnumbered in many a Documentation department, with on one occasion when I was one guy in a team of six, I find this gender balance quite odd. Thinking back to the Technical Communications conference I’d say there is a fairly even split of gender in our profession, but I can’t say I was paying that …

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Not here

I don’t think I’ve done this before and to be honest it’s more an experiment than anything that has particularly good reasoning behind it, yet here I am, tapping away on my iPhone. It’s because I can, pure and simple, yet there is a part of me screaming “SWITCH IT OFF!!” and begging me to step away, switch off, detox from all of this modern technology. And I should, I have the books, the moleskine contains few scrawls and aches for more, yet I’m drawn to this tiny screen. How sad. So I will, turn it off I mean, and go lose myself in a book, or wander across the empty pages, trailing inky thoughts behind me. This is a …

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How to prioritise your work

We all have a need to make sure we are working on the most important thing, the thing that needs our attention and focus the most. Given that all of us will have more than one thing that needs to get done, you need to prioritise. But how? Ivan Walsh recently posted his thoughts on this topic but he doesn’t cover the process that comes before the daily decision making of “what shall I do today?”. Presuming that you don’t lurch from day to day and that you have a plan, or at least a list of things that you need to deliver, how do you go about setting the priority? Some people will be lucky to have a direct …

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ISTC & Community

Over the coming month or so, I’ll be casting around for opinion and insight from you, my lovely readers, particularly if you are based in the UK and especially if you are a member of the ISTC member. Why? I hear you ask. It’s because I’m planning, designing, and building, a community focussed extension to the website (or sub-website, or side-website or.. well that bit has still to be agreed). I’m still figuring out how best to collate the information and requirements for such a website, and where would be best to hold those collaborative conversations that will be required throughout the build and test phase of the website. I’ll announce things here as well as the ISTC mailing list …

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Why blogging is good

The blogs I read are written by a reasonably diverse group of people. Naturally I steer clear of people who have hateful views, or from which I’m not going to learn anything except that they like the sound of their own voice, but on the whole I read interesting posts written by intelligent people. When people ask me why I blog, what I get from it, why I bother, I tell them this. I tell them that, whilst there is a level of chaff which you need to sort through (that ‘Next’ button in Google Reader is a lifesaver at times), there are times when you get a series of blog posts on a particular topic that really make you …

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Finding Balance

My balance is quite good, says the Wii Fit Plus, but then it also says I have a “Fit Age” of 31 so what does it know. So whilst my physical balance isn’t too bad, I’m finding myself looking for balance in the other parts of my life. I feel like some caricature when I say this but I’m increasingly realising that I should really be doing more of the things I enjoy, and prioritising everything else. That’s why, already, I can say that I have read at least one book this year. I couldn’t say the same for the whole of last year which isn’t something I’m happy with. Nobody to blame but myself of course, and I did …

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ISTC West of Scotland area group – January meeting

Theme: The remit of communication professionals in the organisation. How can different comms professionals (technical authors, editors, web content/marketing/training writers, internal/corporate comms, information architects, graphic designers…) work effectively with each other and the rest of the organisation? Time: Monday 25 January 2010, from 7.30 pm onwards. Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level. The event is free and you don’t need to be an ISTC member to attend. Get in touch with Katja McLaughlin for more details.

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Bayerische Motoren Werke

I’d love to say it isn’t. It’s really really not a personal thing, and I do know a few of them so I KNOW they aren’t ALL bad. It’s just that 8 times out of 10, when I finally see the badge, it’s one of them. I’m willing to concede that it might be one of those things, you know, when you are more attuned to something inevitably you see more of it than you had before. Yet there does seem to a mindset and, let’s be honest, it’s not just me saying this, the type of people who buy them seem to be of similar personality. Brash, aggressive, impatient and inconsiderate. I could go on, but their driving style …

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Words and books

I’m blaming Stephen Fry. I tried, I really did try and read his autobiography but it just didn’t flow for me. As wonderful a wordsmith as he is, it just didn’t read well, the flow and cadence was wrong and I found myself slowing down to read things in his voice. Whilst I like Stephen Fry, taking him to bed every night got a bit taxing. So I gave up. I stopped. I admitted defeat and stopped reading which isn’t something I’ve done before. Actually that’s a lie, I’ve given up a several books after faltering in the first few pages but that’s different. That’s like taking the first bite of a meal before realising it’s not what you wanted, …

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Making the brave choices

I was recently asked to write an article about blogging for inclusion in a piece focussed on social media and how it will both challenge and change our profession as a whole and the more I wrote the more it helped me sort out my own thoughts on the matter. One thing I’ve realised is that even if you don’t think social media will impact your own professional circumstances, I have no doubts that it will change the way our profession is perceived. I’ve also come to realise that I’ve done a fair bit of talking about a lot of this stuff, yet continue to be stalled on actually doing it. So, with a new year stretching ahead of me …

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