Stealth Mode

I don’t know about you but I’m getting fed up trying to make everyone realise the value of what we do. Technical Communicators of the world unite! Why is it so darn hard? Isn’t it obvious? We live in a so-called “information age” after all, so why is it such a struggle to get the message across? So, for the meantime, I’ve stopped. My team currently has a separate stream of work looking at how we get better at PR and whilst that runs its course I’ve decided to deploy a different tactic, one which has fallen into my lap. No more will I go cap in hand to department heads, no more will I try to coax, nudge and …

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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 …

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A Super-Role for Technical Communicators?

Are you bored of all this talk of social media? Still not quite sure what it’s all about or why you should bother with it? What IS an Information Platform anyway? Maybe an eSeminar or two would help? As I mentioned last month, Adobe sponsored a supplement for the ISTC Communicator magazine, in which four very handsome* and wonderfully talented** gentlemen put forth their ideas and thoughts on social media in various guises. Caveat: I may be one of said gentlemen. Since then, Adobe has setup two eSeminars to allow each of us to expand on our articles and hopefully get some more excitement and buzz about social media into the Technical Communications industry. The first eSeminar took place on …

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Notes from Technical Communications Conference

These are transcribed from my hastily written scrawls throughout the day. Smart Authoring for a Smarter Planet The keynote presentation by Peter Angelhides Set the tone well for bigger thinking about our profession, broadening the scope to the world wide consumption of information and how it can be processed intelligently. Information for your products is useful both for existing users and for future customers. Don’t lock it away, let Google find it and then follow the links back, find other sources, other places where conversations about your product are happening. Information allows this, product usage doesn’t. Everybody’s (not) doing it: is it really OK to keep ignoring document users? by David Farbey “Documentation is an asynchronous conversation” – Ginny Redish …

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Recently Read

I’m utterly failing in my attempt to make this a weekly feature on this site. Maybe I should cut it down a little, thoughts and comments are appreciated. Writing an Interface Style Guide Some handy tips for what to include in any user interface guidelines document: Interface style guides are extremely useful to define best practices for design and development. However, keeping that information updated and functional is imperative. A glossary, an index, references, acknowledgments, etc., are among some of the supplementary details you can add to make the style guide as helpful as possible. A Climate of Fear among Technical Communicators? Prompted by a panel in the recent STC Summit, Ben Minson outlines some basic tenets of employment which, …

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Conversation V.I.P.s

Revisiting an old post over on the Cherryleaf blog, where Ellis was prompted to ask “Can technical authors be part of ‘the conversation’ in the connected Web 2.0 world that’s emerging?” (excuse the paraphrasing). As a long-term blogger, and someone who believes that there are many tools in the Web 2.0 world that can and should be embraced by technical communicators, I immediately started thinking about this. It’s taken until now for me to distill my rambling thoughts into something coherent. Mainly because it’s a fairly open-ended topic, and because his post includes several questions: If we are going to be part of the conversation, will we be let in? What would make people do that? Once we are in …

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Recently Read

Christmas looms large, and the days are “fair drawing in” as they say in these parts. I’m taking a couple of weeks off to relax and recharge, and no doubt to eat, drink and be (very) merry. As ever this time of year is pretty hectic, so here are few things that caught my eye over the past couple of weeks. 10 Word to avoid in your writing A short list but the main point is to avoid gobbledygook. One of my pet peeves is the use of long words when a perfectly valid, shorter, word is available. The Plain English website has some excellent advice if you want to find out more. No-one reads the help anyway the next …

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Help Standard

OK, fixed the counter code. Ohh and whilst I remember, and I might post this on a discussion group somewhere, how many people who actively use web resources are Technical Communicators, e.g. people who are not design websites but information products? Just curious. I’ve also just remember that I meant to check up on the progress of a Help standard for web. Can’t remember who was chairing it, but it’ll be listed somewhere on the W3C site.

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