Influential? Me?

One of the reasons I started this blog was as a way of exploring my thoughts about our profession, from specific issues to wider themes. It’s only been going a few years, but I’ve learned a lot since then both writing here, and reading the thoughts of other bloggers in this industry. I live and work in Scotland, far from the thriving centre of capitalism that is London and the surrounding areas, M4 corridor and the like. There aren’t all that many Technical Communicators in this neck of the woods so blogging helps me keep up to speed with the latest trends, and with fellow technical communicators. I don’t really have much other motive than that, to be honest, so …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

Jack of all trades Pt. 1

My name is Gordon McLean, I am a Technical Communicator* and I am proud to be a jack of all trades. Working in the software industry, and particularly for a company that has embraced the XP development methodology, I have exposure to, and contact with, most of the other roles in the company. I talk to Marketing to understand to who, and where, we sell our software. I talk to Deployment to understand the real issues they experience when using our software (they are our customers). I talk to Training to make sure we are promoting the same message. I talk to Testing to make sure the bug that I have found IS a bug and should be logged. I …

Continue reading

RTFM

I’m published baby, yea! Finally got around to writing an article for Speakeasy, and whaddya know, that nice bloke Carey published it (and only a couple of grammatical errors to correct too, which were only in there to see if he was paying attention…). Titled “R.T.F.M. – The plight of the Technical Communicator” it is an insider view of my profession, or at least one aspect of it. If you’ve ever used product documentation, it might be of interest. So what are you waiting for? Go read it now.

Continue reading

R.T.F.M.

If you work in I.T. you will no doubt have heard the abbreviation R.T.F.M. at some point. It stands for “Read The Frickin’ Manual”. As a Technical Communicator by trade it is always disappointing to hear it uttered. Hours and hours of research, learning and knowledge accumulation are pored into most software manuals, and all too frequently they are ignored. “No-one reads the manual”? So why do we bother? Like most professionals we take great pride in our work. We try and ensure that the information we present is technically accurate, written properly (frequently writing to ensure an easy translation is possible) and most importantly, of use to you the end user. So why don’t people use product documentation? The …

Continue reading

Appendix

I’ve often considered either switching this site or launching a new one which dealt with my professional interests and opinions, a la zeldman. Trouble is I’m not sure how many people would care, and how to narrow down what I do so as not to tread into too many areas. Writing, Grammar, Evolution of language, UI design, HCI, web design and usability, educating users, etc etc – the list is endless. That’s one of the joys of being a Technical Communicator – you get to do LOADS of different things, unfortunately it is assumed that you don’t do any of them as well as a ‘qualified’ professional (except the writing bit that is). Sigh, now I just need to get …

Continue reading