Tag: <span>ISTC</span>

It’s true.

I’ve checked the calendar.

Twice.

It is definitely almost Christmas.

Which means it’s almost the end of the year.

How did that happen?

I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve not yet managed to get the new ISTC website up and running. It’s close, so close, and after a few frustrating weeks of backtracking and replanning part of the implementation (the member database part, quite important that bit!) I now have a clear path forward and will be looking to get it tested (I have volunteers already, more welcomed!) in the next few weeks.

Mind you, the past six months have been hectic but well worth it. We’ve grown our team and have a strong plan of action for the coming year, the challenge will be getting it all done.

So, next year is looking like it will be a good one.

Mind you, still need to get past the next couple of weeks.

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A product release is imminent.

A trip to visit two customers in the US of A.

Ongoing complications with the new ISTC website (soon, soon!).

Planning for 2012, including a major restructure of our content.

Actual writing some documentation (a rare occurrence!).

Plus all the usual things that life is wont to throw at us.

Maybe look for me on Twitter instead?

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Thursday 13th October, from 7.30pm, in Waxy O’Connors pub.

The next ISTC technical communicators’ meeting in Glasgow will take place on Thursday 13th October 2011, from 7.30 pm onwards. I will be presenting a report from the Technical Communication UK 2011 conference. Come along to talk about latest news and trends in communication, or just to meet other communication professionals.

The event is free and open to anyone interested in technical communication, such as technical authors, information architects, internal communication professionals, report writers, marketing writers, web content writers and graphic designers.

Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level.

Work

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I recently attended the Glastonbury Festival and, despite the mud and mayhem around me, found myself pondering an issue that we have in our documentation set.

Throughout the week I was at the festival I spent a lot of time consulting a map of the festival site, trying to figure out both where I was and where I should go next. It wasn’t always easy and I got it wrong several times causing us to have to stop at the nearest beer tent, you know, just to make sure we weren’t completely lost.

The signposts around the festival site weren’t always clear, nor particularly abundant) and whilst we coped, it is definitely something they could improve. Being lost is never fun, and at some point over that week I realised this was similar to an issue we have with our documentation.

It was very much one of those thoughts that had probably been percolating at the back of my brain (a dark and dusty place, if truth be told) for a few days. Somewhere in those dark recesses, prompted by frequently being lost at the festival, my brain dragged up a quote from a blogpost I’ve mentioned in this months ISTC newsletter (you don’t have to be a member to receive the newsletter, anyone can sign up and anyone can view the archives).

The quote that had, seemingly, lodged in my head was “every page is page one”; the blog post it’s taken from is well worth a read (it’s linked in the newsletter).

Like many of you, we have a LOT of content, particularly when it’s broken down into topics. Whilst we take care to plan out what content we will be adding to make sure the structure makes sense, we realise it’s not always easily findable. One of the main reasons is that, by and large, most people will find their way into the content via the search results.

Taking the maxim that “every page is page one” makes sense for our situation, but how do we best signpost where the user has landed?

Have you tackled this issue? Do you have a solution? I’d love to hear your suggestions on this.

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The attendance at last nights ISTC Area Group meeting in the West of Scotland was poor, and as it seems to fluctuate quite dramatically at times (we went from four people to ten and back again in the space of three meetings) I’m trying to figure out why.

Is it apathy? Laziness? Lack of awareness? Or perhaps people are unclear of the benefits of turning up?

If you are a member of the ISTC, and on the mailing list (or perhaps you are following the ISTC on Twitter?), then you will receive notifications of the area group meetings.

But what if you aren’t a member? How do we attract… scratch that, how do we FIND people who may want to attend? Where are all the technical communicators?

I wonder if more people get quicker benefit being part of online communities? If social media is part of the reason for the low attendance?

Last night was, despite the small number, useful. It always is in one way or another – I got some ideas to help me with my current recruitment drive – but perhaps, like all of these things, you have to turn up to get the benefit.

In the past some of us have contacted other “user groups” who may be interested from the likes of eLearning professionals and on the Adobe user forums. That accounts for the spike in attendance but I’m starting to wonder if there is just a general apathy about our profession (or about the professional world) at the moment.

I’m also very aware that the catchment area isn’t that large, but I know there are other technical authors, technical writers, technical communicators, and lots of other people in the local area who could benefit from attending. These people do exist, we just need to find a way to reach out to them and make sure they understand the benefits.

We have, in the past, considered running a specific session, with a guest speaker, so there is a definite agenda and perhaps that is more of what we need. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a Catch-22 scenario, we can’t (won’t) book speakers if hardly anyone is going to turn up!

It is a quandary for sure.

Why wouldn’t people want to go to the pub and have a chat with fellow professionals?

Work

Hard to believe that’s six months of the year gone already.

But it has and that means that Glastonbury is only three weeks away! I really need to buy me some wellies.

Other than that, life is good. I’m on the verge of, finally, buying a bike through the Cycle to Work scheme, which I’m just waiting on being launched at my workplace, and I’m managing to get to the gym a couple of times a week with the odd game of badminton thrown in for fun.

Still not really reading all that much, and my new camera has been severely underused, but that’s mostly because my new role as webmaster for the ISTC is taking up a fair bit of my downtime. Still to find the balance with that but it’s fun, particularly as I’m going to be rebuilding the entire website very soon.

Starting to think about the next holiday too, money will constrain me a bit, so likely to be a long weekend city break type thing, but where? Those things can be costly, so another option is a cheap and cheerful package somewhere hot and sunny. A week in the sun, reading, drinking and generally lounging around… yeah I could cope with that.

Life

If ever I needed proof that I am not a bastard I need only look at what I tend to do in my spare time. For not only do I look and crack the same crap jokes as my Dad, I also seem to have the same need to be busy that he has.

Admittedly, looking through the archives of this blog, that’s something that is fairly well documented here but a recent development has finally cemented this quiet thought in my mind.

After agreeing to take over the running of the ISTC website (including a rebuild and redesign which are underway), I’ve recently agreed to serve on the Council of said organisation. That means reports, budgets, minutes, meetings and the like. Thankfully it’s not a huge commitment of time and it doesn’t really change my main focus but, knowing me, I’ll need to be on the lookout to make sure I don’t take on any further tasks.

I still have a couple of other things to finish off too, and hoping to get a clear run at them this week to get them out of the way.

There is one other thing I must do though.

Remove Football Manager 2011 from my iPad. I’ve already lost about two entire days to it.

Focus man, focus!

Life

The next ISTC West of Scotland area group meeting in Glasgow will take place on Thursday 9th June 2011, from 7.30 pm onwards. Come along to talk about latest news and trends in communication, or just to meet other communication professionals.

The event is free and open to anyone interested in technical communication, such as technical authors, information architects, internal communication professionals, report writers, marketing writers, web content writers and graphic designers.

Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level.

Please forward this message on to your colleagues or anyone else who may be interested. For more information, contact westscotland_areagroup@istc.org.uk.

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