bookmark_borderTechnical Communication UK Conference

Technical Communication UK
22nd-24th September 2009

Technical Communication UK is the new annual conference that aims to meet the needs of technical communicators, their managers and clients, from every corner of the industry.

The conference is hosted by the ISTC, and run in partnership with X-pubs.

Technical Communication UK runs on 23rd and 24th September 2009, with pre-conference workshops on 22nd September. It will deliver more than 30 sessions over the three days, with presentations, workshops, case studies, and hands-on product demonstrations from experts in their field.

Let me know if you are coming along, as I’d hate to be sitting in the bar on my own on the Wednesday evening!


I’ve been writing this blog for quite a while, so I must admit that I’m surprised that this is the first time I’ve found myself in my current position.

Perhaps it’s because I tend not to make inflammatory statements (aside from that post about the Bible being a work of fiction written by the Devil, obv) but I’ve never had to censor any comments before.

Luckily I have a Comment Posting Policy which states:

I reserve the exclusive right to moderate all comments posted on my site, including but not limited to… deleting comments that contain offensive language. Repeated use of abusive and offensive language will be deleted and banned.

So, said comment is gone, forever banished to the land of dead pixels and binary dust.

bookmark_borderIt's hard

Listening to the news on the way to work this morning, some chav sounding lassie from some London suburb or other was bemoaning the fact that she found it hard not to bunk off school.

Yes, that’s right. She wasn’t finding it hard to attend school just hard not to bunk off at least once a week.

She said she had once “even” been arrested whilst bunking off which didn’t reflect well on her school, or her parents but it was just really hard not to bunk off. I’m guessing peer pressure is probably the reason but that’s just a symptom of the underlying disease

I’ve touched on this theme before, several years ago, and whilst part of my reaction disgusts me I can’t help that knee-jerk feeling that somewhere, somehow, discipline has been lost, and my contempt for that girl rises to the top.

Do we blame the parents? The teachers? The government? The kids? Probably all of them in different ways and magnitudes.

And the thing that really annoys me is that fixing, or at the very least addressing, the slow decline of moral standards in our society must be possible.

Just, you know, it’s, like, hard.

bookmark_borderWhat do you write?

I’m currently pushing a business case to allow me to hire a new member for our team. The premise is that, particularly with our product set, there will always be areas of technical content that need writing but that with an additional member we can start to create other forms of content.

Which begs the question, what other forms of content can we create?

One thing I would like to get my team more involved with, both to give them a wider view of the product and to help the rest of the R&D team better understand why we build what we build, is in the creation of our Business Requirement Documents (BRDs). These documents drive the product features, setting out the requirements for the new features that we want to add for the next release cycle.

Early on in my career I remember reading (somewhere) that the technical writing team are user adovocates and that we are “the interface to the interface”. With that in mind, we need to understand both why a feature is in the product and how we expect it to be used (or at the very least, how we would like people to use it). By getting involved earlier in the product lifecycle, helping to understand and articulate the business requirements at the start of a release, we can be better placed to act in the best interests of the customer.

Being part of the team that collates and creates the BRDs will place us bang in the middle at the start of a stream of work and, by nature, we are also there at the very end, checking our documentation as the final stages of the release tweak and refine the functionality. My hope is that this end to end view of the product will help both the technical writers, and the development teams in which they are embedded.

Are you involved with early development documentation? If so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

bookmark_borderI am not a morning person

It’s 10am on Sunday morning, I pick up my water bottle, a small towel and head out the door. I arrive at an almost empty gym and start to warm up. My body resists, my mind suggests that going back to bed might be a better idea and by and large the next hour or so is a bit of a struggle.

This is not a new feeling.

When I first started jogging there were sessions on a Wednesday evening, and a Sunday morning. Once I got over the initial shock of doing any form of regular exercise I was soon bounding along during the Wednesday evening sessions. Sunday mornings were horrid.

I used to think that it was maybe because I wasn’t warmed up enough, that as it was early in the morning I hadn’t really done anything so my body wasn’t really geared up to doing anything strenuous. Unfortunately even after an intense 10 minute warm up my body still wasn’t really of a mind to exert itself. It’s a wonder I managed it out of the house at all.

So I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not a morning person, and so I wasn’t to perturb on Sunday when I couldn’t cycle as far as I did during the week, nor complete the same amount of reps on any of the machines. That’s ok though.

Because I was there. That is what counts on the days you really don’t want to go.

Now I just need to find a way to make them count DOUBLE, and I’ll be happy.

bookmark_borderIll Communication

Twitter is changing. Whilst the technology is the same, the way it is being used (or perhaps the way I use it?) has been slowly evolving.

Evolution is a good thing, but that does mean that I now find myself evolving how I use and interact with Twitter.

Maybe I need to slim down my followers list and remove those that are only making noise.

I include those who have endless conversations between themselves, for me that’s just noise.

Hashtags present another issue, whilst they can be useful they are now used in other ways which add to the noise.

I’m worried that I’m actually considering the categorisation of some Twitter posts as “types of noise”, but maybe that is what is needed?

Whilst I can use apps like TweetDeck to filter out “types of noise”, it would be better to have opt-in than blanket messaging?

But then, that’s not Twitter, is it?

I’m really not complaining about Twitter or those who I follow, although a little self-policing would help.

After all, what happens when you put 100 people in a room mostly talking to themselves?