Landing Pads

I’m guessing that you don’t want to miss that landing pad because if you do you’ll end up ditched in the ocean, floating around aimlessly and with no real idea of what to do next. Can you imagine how horrifying it would be if that happened? Floating there, unable to get back to land and with who knows what swimming around underneath you… Yet this is the predicament that many users of online help find themselves in, having strayed into the online help they have been cast into an ocean of information with no real idea of how to get back to shore. Ohhh sure, we tell ourselves that the there is an easy way to get to the information …

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Why everything is changing

I’ve agreed to present at this years ISTC conference, and my topic will be blogging and technical communications. It’s a nice topic title, vague enough that I can stretch it in many ways, but specific enough that it has some natural constraints. I’ll write up some of my thoughts here, naturally, but it’s interesting that I’m starting to see how other areas of the online world, the Web 2.0 vision of the future, are coming into play. Case in point: Rhonda Bracey blogs about the presentation Tony Self gave, based on an article he wrote titled What if Readers Can’t Read? which I’d already read, and linked to in my monthly newsletter column for the ISTC. The premise of which …

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Why I joined the ISTC

In their own words, the ISTC is: the largest UK body representing professional communicators and information designers I joined the ISTC a couple of years ago. They’ve been on my radar for a while now, but to be honest I’ve never been sure of what the benefits have been, nor have I found much need to be a member of a professional body. So what does the ISTC offer members? Well the ISTC website states that: the ISTC offers opportunities to exchange views and information with other professional communicators. Members enjoy discounts, news, training events, networking and recognition of professional status including the use of FISTC or MISTC (for suitably qualified people). OK, so you can now refer to me …

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Small changes

Sometimes it’s the little things that add up to make something better. The realisation that I probably post to Twitter more than I should hit home recently. I use Twitter to update my Facebook status and, as a few work colleagues can see my Facebook profile, one of the jovial nitwits has created a special Facebook group just for me, titled “Gordon Mclean cannot stop updating his status”. However, despite jokingly suggesting I might stop using Twitter soon (it has jumped the shark, hasn’t it?) I don’t see that happening, in fact I’m still finding new ways to use it. One of the first applications I put on my iPhone was Twitterific. It was good enough for me to buy …

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Meetings and Contacts

A quick reminder to those of you in the West of Scotland, there is an open meeting this evening to which you are invited. No agenda, just a chance to meet up with fellow technical writers. We are meeting at 7 p.m. in the offices of Sumerian in Glasgow city centre, at 19 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4BG. Tea & coffee will be provided. Thanks Katja for organising this, I’m looking forward to it as it’s always informative and interesting to meet fellow professionals. As my career progresses (or perhaps just because I’m getting older) I start to understand the true benefits of, what has now come to be known as, networking. It’s the same reason I joined the ISTC, …

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Sudden need for habit

Everything happens at once. It’s always the way of these things, the calendar remains empty until, all of a sudden you realise you have a concert and a leaving do to attend one evening, and a day/evening session in the pub the next day. Such is the case this coming Friday, Radiohead gig at Glasgow Green on Friday evening the same night my boss is having his leaving do (he’s sharing it with another member of staff who is leaving, double trouble!). I’m really looking forward to both, and only hope that I’m not so completely soaked that they don’t let me into the pub later on… It’s also approaching the end of our release cycle at work, so things …

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Hi there

A quick welcome to anyone visiting from the ISTC Communicator magazine. I feel a little spoiled getting two mentions in subsequent pages (10 & 12 if you are wondering) but I’m not really complaining. Over the past year or so I’ve definitely got the feeling that the ISTC is changing, and it certainly feels like a more modern and dynamic organisation than it has seemed to be in the past. Perhaps that’s natural, but it’s amazing how little things like a redesign magazine and newsletter, and hopefully a new design for the website, can refocus the energies of those involved. Anyway, thanks for dropping by, there are plenty of links and opinions to be found in the archives (scroll down …

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A day in the life

As featured in the Spring 2008 edition of Communicator, the magazine for ISTC members. I’m the Publications Team Lead at Graham Technology, a mid-sized (and growing) software company based in Scotland and like many people in this field, I have a wide range of duties. As well as the more traditional technical authoring work, I also manage resources, consider strategy and working practices for the team, and generally do my best to represent the user during development meetings. I also find myself spending time considering the information strategy of the company, investigating translation requirements, and keeping up to speed with the Technical Communications industry. I joined Graham Technology just over a year ago and it’s my first time working in …

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Hello to ISTC Communicator Readers

I got home this evening to find the next issue of Communicator sitting on the mat. Thankfully it was in one piece so obviously the cat hadn’t found it… Anyway, just to confirm that, yes, I am the same Gordon McLean who features in the final piece in the magazine. Worryingly that means you now know what I look like, so I can only hope it doesn’t put you off visiting my blog again in the future. I’m also going to be featuring in the monthly newsletter, but more on that when it happens. The article was a “day in the life” style piece and although re-reading it brought a few omissions to mind, it remains a fairly accurate portrayal …

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Neologism

Busy busy busy, so I’ll “borrow” this from a recent ISTC newsletter. The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a …

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