Tag: <span>EVERYONE</span>

“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.”

It’s a fine line between imitation and theft but, looking around at other documentation sets recently, it’s interesting to see so many common items. Table of contents, numbered lists, signposts and so on. These things exist, and are common, for very good reasons but as we continue to learn about how best to anticipate the growing set of skills our users have when it comes to using information, I’m wondering what will become of these standard, common items we all include in our documentation sets.

Case in point; Recently, whilst, looking at the Atlassian documentation we realised that there were a few nice touches that we could incorporate into our own documentation set. At the foot of every page is a common set of links, something that we think would improve our offering as well.

The only reason we can look to copy that idea is because we host all of our documentation set online (in a similar layout to Atlassian). More and more organisations are going this way yet, so far, most of us are sticking with the old, familiar, tri-pane view we are comfortable with.

Looking at how more and more people use the internet to find information, it strikes me that perhaps we need to be more radical with how we present our information. I’m not quite sure how, but perhaps there is a need for more question and answer style information? Rather than documenting how to use something, concentrate on documenting what to do if it fails? Move away from the table of contents to a more graphical navigation with clear signposting to where information can be found?

Regardless of how, it’s clear that the expectations of people when they use information is changing and if you accept that this new usage model is only going to get more popular then it begs the question… where are the new information interaction ideas? I’m not talking about having a Twitter account, or publishing information to a Wiki, and I think it’s beyond the “every page is page one” view as we seem to be getting away from the notion of anything ever being on a ‘page’ per se, but instead this is a fundamental shift of how we consider, create, and consume information.

Usual caveats apply, of course, as I’m well aware that not everyone will, or should, be looking at this but for those of you who are, what does your future hold? How will you map what you produce now to how your users want to use it, will it be via Facebook, or Twitter, or the new Google+? Do you think you need to consider this? Or not?

The last few years have seen quite a change to our industry and that change isn’t going to stop any time soon so finding answers to those questions may not be easy or, in some cases, possible. However, from what I’ve seen some people are starting to find better ways to allow their information to be used as part of a larger piece, and for me that’s where we all need to start looking.

How is your information used alongside other, competing, sets of information? Do they integrate well or are they still viewed as separate entities? I think we need to include everything from documentation and training material, to sales collateral and the user interface itself. We all need to look at how more and more people are comfortable shifting their lives online and how it’s now common place for EVERYONE to “just Google” to find an answer to their problem. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself how many friends do you have online? and do you trust their opinions more, or less, than your friends when it comes to harnessing specific knowledge?

Quite simply, and this is not a new statement, if you aren’t hooked into the mass of information that is available, you are going to lose out. Which brings me back to my question.

To get properly hooked into people’s online life, I think we may need to change things, so where are the new ideas?

Work

We can!!

Lessons learned, if you know someone in the ‘trade’, ask them for a recommendation. Not only have the guys done a bang up job, clearing up after themselves in the process, they were HALF the price we got quoted for a job that would’ve taken twice as long?

When we told Danny, our newest bestest electrician friend, about the other quote he was gobsmacked both at the price and the length of time quoted.

If you are in the South Lanarkshire area, I’d recommend you steer clear of “First Call Electrical Services” and Mark Rodger.

And if you need an electrician I’ll happily pass on the number of our newest bestest electrician friend.

So, step one in getting the kitchen finished is complete. Just waiting on the delivery of a new worktop and then rescheduling the fitters. Another week perhaps??

Anyway, to celebrate saving a fair wodge of cash on the job, we’re off out for dinner with our friends Ian and Susan. Ian is our “friend in the trade” (and his Mum comments here on occasion, Hi Moyra!) so this is a big THANK YOU for helping us de-stress a little and hopefully lowering my blood pressure… ohh I’ve not told you that news have I… 176/116 is bad, apparently so I’m being healthy now. It sucks. More on that, later (but not tomorrow as we are car boot sale-ing and have to be up at 4am to get a pitch!!! Mental!).

Must dash, we’re going out in an hou… ummm.. 40 minutes!!

* In case anyone is wondering (surely by now EVERYONE has heard of them?) the wording of the title is a tribute to Lolcats.

Life

Oh yes, hello, forgot about you there for a minute. Terribly sorry, awful way to treat you I know, I know.

You see I’m quite busy at the moment, yes yes I know that EVERYONE is “quite busy” and busy is a very relative term but I truly am… sort of…

Thing is it’s not big stuff busy just lots and lots of little stuff busy. The kind of start and end of project stuff that needs done but is a bit of a chore. The kind of stuff that you add to a list and forget about because, hey, you’ve already added it to your list…

Speaking of which, I’ve got a list to work through.

Enough of me, how are you?

Life

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What’s funny and what’s offensive? The Aristocrats documentary falls short of any insight into the dividing line, although it’s universally acknowledged that the line is there and can be stepped over very easily, in fact there were two definite “not comfortable with this moments” in the documentary itself:

One was a comedian telling his version of the joke to his one year old son. The kid had no idea what his father was saying, but it still made me uncomfortable after all surely it is part of being a child, part of growing up that allows you to come across these terms in your own time and make your own decisions as to what you do and don’t find offensive.

The other was by a comedy writer turning the joke on it’s head and trying for an offensive “punchline”. This was actually done twice in the documentary, one worked very well, the other failed for me because of the language used (if you watch it, the one that failed is by the male comedy writer, the one that definitely worked is by the comedienne). Suffice to say that, for the one that failed, it used terms I’m not even comfortable posting here.

One comedy writer described the Aristocrats joke as a mirror, offering more about the comedian telling the joke than the audience laughing at it: “If the joke contains bestiality, don’t let him walk your dog”. But surely your reaction to these things also says something about you, and I guess it’s similar when discussing any taboo subject. EVERYONE has a reaction to the subject, it’s how you deal with the reaction, and deal with the information later on that makes us individuals.

However when you break these things down, it’s very easy to place some distance between yourself and the repulsive content you are discussing, as evidence by an editorial meeting shown at the offices of The Onion where they compile a list of possible topics, each one worse than the previous. Is ” ‘and then he fucked Jesus in the ass’ more offensive than any form of race-baiting?” they pondered (and apologies if… ohh you get the drift).

I think it would be pretty easy to write-up a list of possibly offensive topics, but one thing I noticed last night was that despite some of the topics being used in the joke being WAY beyond my personal radar of “acceptable humour”, I was laughing heartily. In fact it was the most laughs I’ve heard in a cinema for quite a while, even if they were all a little on the hysterical “I shouldn’t be laughing at this so I’ll laugh a little TOO hard lest anyone think I’m not a bit offended” side.

So it’s very easy to wrap this up, and stop waffling, by going for a simple closing along the lines of “each to their own, and be considerate of your fellow man”. But, you know what, fuck that. The entire POINT of the Aristocrats joke is to go too far, challenge your own taboos and take people in the audience with you. Maybe in this politically correct world we need a little more of that, a little more pushing back of the boundaries, some balls and bravado to say, fuck it. This is what I think, and I realise it may offend some people but that’s for THEM to deal with.

Of course I can’t leave it at that, the caveat being the it shouldn’t ever be deliberately aimed, deliberately focussed to cause offence or in any way hate related. We joke with some of our Muslim colleagues, and they constantly threaten to leave a backpack under our desks… WE know it’s a joke but have you been offended?

I’ll stop now and leave you with a throwaway joke from Bob Saget, as recounted by the woman he told it to:

“Bob said to me: ‘You know, you should leave a box of ultra-thin tampons lying around. That way, next time you take a date home he’ll think you’re really tight….'”.

Media

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Note to self: Sure, the early train is always good to catch but haring along the platform like some deranged mutant doesn’t make a great impression. Neither does sitting for the entire journey trying to recover whilst looking like you’ve spent 30 minutes too long under a sunbed. Great start to the day, you numpty.

Now, does anyone have a spare lung? I appear to have coughed one up and can’t find it.

So yes, getting into work early on a Monday morning is a tad masochistic, but it does mean that I can take Monday at my pace for a change. This was helped by Louise getting a lift to work, meaning I had the car and could run myself to the station (yes I should have walked but come on, it IS Monday morning). Of course I hadn’t actually planned to get the early train, but just as I was stepping out of the car it started to pull into the station. Next thing I know I’m glaring down at my feet as they insist on making me run, all the while I’m trying to ensure that my stomach doesn’t suddenly decide that it actually doesn’t like this combination of a bowl of Shreddies followed by a 20 yard dash.

An added bonus is the overnight development of a phlegm factory in the back of my throat. Hmmm, too much information?

Coming later, another re-work of THAT Firefox post you are all bored to tears with and some musings on getting your haircut.

Ohh and whilst I remember, yesterday’s screening of Bridget Jones allowed me to witness a rare occurance in modern cinema. Yes, that’s right. EVERYONE stuck to the “One couple, one row” rule! You know the one. Right?

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I would like to point you over to Yeah, but is it art?. Not for the vomit related story (EVERYONE has a vomit/vehicle related story*) but for the picture of the kitchen. FANTASTIC!! The very cartoon that captured my imagination so many years ago.

* Mine was in an outdoor centre minibus, the ‘spewer’ decided to try and catch his vomit in his hands, but it came out with such velocity it merely fanned out in a fine (if lumpy) spray all over everyone else.

Enjoy your lunch.

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