Muji Manifesto

Can’t recall where I saw this but it struck a chord so I grabbed the main tenets with a view to expounding on them at a later date. However, as simplicity suggests, I really don’t need to bother. Because there is complexity in purity. Elegance in plainness. Intricacy in streamlining. Richness in reduction. Depth in minimalism. Surprise in uniformity. Innovation in re-use. Cool in the avoidance of cool. And there is true sophistication in simplicity. These were not written about Technical Communications but they might as well have been. I’m seriously considering printing these off and pinning them up on the wall.

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What’s in store for 2008?

Back after a couple of weeks of merriment, over-eating and general lazing about. Hopefully the festive season was as good to you as it was to me. But enough looking back, this time of year is all about looking forward. So what is coming up in the next 12 months? Well, I’m hoping to start migrating some content from Structured FrameMaker to AuthorIT, having decided that the overheads required to get DITA up and running just don’t stack up against the cost of ownership of AuthorIT. I’m a big fan of the principles behind DITA, and I will keep up-to-speed with progress, but it doesn’t suit our needs here. I’m also hoping to post a bit more often here, and …

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DITA is not the answer

Single sourcing is good, I’m sure most of us can agree on that, but I’ve recently been wondering if perhaps DITA isn’t quite good enough? The thing is, I’ve been looking at DITA as a solution for our single sources needs for a while now. I’ve attended conferences, read whitepapers, listened to vendors and everything else that goes with it and I’ve got a pretty good handle on things. If applied correctly the benefits you can gain are very large, although the same can be said of any other single source project, yet what seems to be consistently missing during all of these wonderfully theoretical discussions is the cost and impact of getting such a solution “applied correctly”. A key …

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This is not a video

As I mentioned previously, the opening presentation at TICAD was by Adobe and featured their vision of the future of Technical Communications and information development. Apparently that future includes video. Video has been available to many for a few years now, yet it is never really the main focus of a documentation team. Tom has questioned this as well: “For too long I’ve minimized the importance of the audiovisual. Captivate — the industry standard tool for creating screen demos — is actually a relatively simple application. Mastering it and integrating audiovisual into user help will take it to the next level.” This echoes what Adobe suggest, no big surprise there, but I have to admit that I don’t fully agree. …

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A word of advice

Many years ago, when I was just starting out in Technical Communications, my boss at the time gave me a piece of advice. Every now and then it pops back into my head and, as well as allowing me a small smile, reminds me to do just what he suggested. His advice was one word. He didn’t explain it and, to be honest at the time I was a little befuddled. It took me a while to grasp the depth of what he was saying as, at first glance, as it is only one word it does seem very slight and somewhat obvious. Looking back now it even seems a little trite but, remembering the type of man he was, …

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Do you RSS?

Over the past year or so, as I’ve started to struggle to keep up-to-date with the multitude of websites that interest me, I’ve increasingly turned to RSS feeds to help me manage the load. With that in mind, I’ve been compiling a list of Technical Communications feeds that I find interesting. Some are by Technical Writers, some are not, but I generally skim through the new items daily and I’ve yet to have a day when I didn’t read or find something interesting and useful. If you have an RSS newsreader, then feel free to grab a copy of my subscriptions. If you right-click that link you should be able to download the file, and then just import it into …

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Briefly…

… no we didn’t win the Lottery, but if we had, I’d have a year long “see the world” holiday (and I mean real world, not “luxury hotel” world.. well ok, a few luxury hotels..), then distribute as much of the money as I could, leaving enough for Louise and I to live off without having to work again (in a modest detached house). … Twitter, Facebook and the like. These are good for blogging as those of us who still blog have a little more ‘clear space’ into which we can shout. The ‘casuals’ are moving to more immediate and easier to maintain services. Perhaps. … September looms and the possibilty of starting an MA in Technical Communications approaches. …

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Searching for focus

I’ve hit an unexpected problem with this blog, one which I didn’t think I’d hit for quite a while, if at all. I can’t seem to find a focus. Now, considering that this blog has the breadth of topics that the umbrella of “Technical Communications” covers that really shouldn’t be possible. But that isn’t really where I’m falling down. I’ve long since held the belief that you don’t, ever, blog about your workplace. Confidentiality issues aside, it just doesn’t seem very professional to have a second dialogue, in a remote location, that discusses either colleagues, working practises, or general morale issues so other than some very “good day/bad day” hints, I’ve tended to steer clear of it altogether. Which, for …

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Skill Set

Without meaning to I seem to have taken some inspiration from this post, whilst I’m not directly offering a counterpoint, it’s worth a read. ~ Every trade or profession has a skill set, a unique set of talents that make one role different from another. For most people in the IT industry we all have some amount of ‘business-led’ skills such as time management, a little project management perhaps, and so on. As a profession, Technical Communications covers a wide range of skills and some people, depending on their role or the company the work for, can end up being a jack of all trades (master of some?). However, there are some skills that are easily identifiable as being part …

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Handling Information Laziness

Like most people, I ‘fell’ into the world of Technical Communications. I didn’t choose this career, and like many I didn’t study anything that remotely involved writing. But then, who really knows what they want to be when they are choosing what to study at university. So, after spending a few years learning about Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and largely finding the entire experience boring, I packed that in and somehow found myself working as a Technical Administrator for a small local software firm. My Mother had spotted the job advert in the local paper and the rest, as they say, has passed under the bridge… Having spent some time helping out at a local community centre, creating flyers and …

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