Podcast: Documentation in the Cloud

In this podcast, Michael Hiatt at mashstream.com presents to the STC Intermountain chapter on documentation in the cloud. By documentation in the cloud, he’s referring to our move to the web of everything we do on the computer — the running of applications, the saving of our data, the way we access and interact with all the information. He covers at a lot of ground in this presentation, touching on web 2.0, web 3.0, the semantic web, knowledge mashups, documentation mashups, lifestreaming, linked data, meshing, raw data,  and more.

Here’s the official presentation description:

Web 2.0 cloud computing, interactive social groups, and real-time global communication promise major changes in software programming, IT management, medical care, and scientific research.

So how will it affect technical communication? Significantly. Major changes are coming for all types of writers, editors, and technical developers as personalized data is streamed to Facebook accounts, web applications are mashed, and content is stored in the cloud.

Our world of in-house authoring of proprietary help files, closed doc sets, and isolated knowledge bases is coming to an end. As web creators and communicators, we need to evaluate our place in the new protocol society where content is king and authors are needed to publish entertaining and relevant information.

About Michael Hiatt

Michael Hiatt is a technical writer and manager with 20 years of experience. He has worked for software companies large and small across multiple products and varying depths of technical communication. Michael co-founded Mashstream.com, where he blogs and develops e-books, application mashups, and integrated linked data solutions.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, JavaScript, front-end design, content strategy, Jekyll, and more. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  • http://lessworkmoreflow.blogspot.com Noz Urbina

    Hi Tom, I needs ta chat… I read Michael Hiatt’s original post. As often, I find that I am making an effort to bridge worlds: the Obstinate Proppers of Obsolete Stiffies (aka Single Source Fans) as described in Michael’s post, and Michael’s own Cloud-based Hyper Web 3.X-tremist view.

    I just delivered a case study at Intelligent Content 2010 http://bit.ly/c4Xmm6 which which sits firmly in the middle of these two scenarios. In a medical devices organisation where ‘single source of truth’ is still vital, and the ability to filter large content sets without paying for DTP in translation makes big fucntional difference, DITA and Single Sourcing make sense. The question then is: how do you integrate hundreds or thousands of community-generated objects in an effective way for the user with your single-source workflow?

    Michael’s post reads a bit like a tabloid with rather dubious attention-grabbers, e.g. “IBM liked the idea early on but, with the advent of Web publishing and quickening pace of information management, gave it up.”

    Last I checked with my buddies at IBM no one was “giving up” DITA. Not every DITA project is a success and this is probably true inside or outside IBM.

    If you’d be interested, I’d like to do a quasi-response podcast / interview / presentation (up to you) that goes through the vibrant relevance of the so-called defunct benefits of single-sourcing and the relevance of things like DITA to a single source workflow and business case.

    If you think it’s a bit of fun, I’d even do it as a point-by-point dialectic response using my case study as just one recent example of how SS and DITA are far from ‘Your father’s content pipe dream.’

    What do you say?

    • http://idratherbewriting.com Tom Johnson

      Noz, sure, let’s do a podcast on this topic. Can you send me the slides or notes from the presentation you mentioned so I can better understand your points? Michael’s main attack is with the idea that one can single source the same content from Marketing to Tech Pubs to Training to Support to Engineering and any other department that needs the content. Contact me via email and we can coordinate the podcast details.

  • Thomas Kohn

    Timelog of the podcast

    The discussion is fairly free-wheeling, associative, and often driven by the questions or comments.

    00:00 Introduction
    03:20 Background and definitions
    08:20 Myths and their Busts
    10:20 Security and competing infrastructures
    12:45 Back-end services in the cloud as ease-of-use issue
    14:15 A fog of information–everything comes at us at once
    15:15 Another fog of information–everyone uses the same content but massages its presentation
    45:00 DBpedia: an example of a Wiki page with mashup links to the semantic web
    …maybe the rest is too free-form for summary…