Three Excellent Podcasts on Networking, Outsourcing, and DITA
I listened to several excellent podcasts this week that I want to recommend to others.
Networking for Freelancers, Work-at-Homers, and Other Professionals
In this podcast on networking by the STC Washington D.C. chapter, Carolyn Kelley Klinger interviews two experts on the value of networking. Although I've never been aggressive in my networking, this podcast made me realize that my blog and podcast are infinitely valuable networking tools. What better way to connect and build relationships with others than through the mediums of Web 2.0.
Outsourcing Technical Communications to India
This podcast by DMN Communications explores the positive implications of outsourcing technical writing to India. Outsourcing some of the lower-level tech writing tasks frees up non-outsourced technical writers to perform more of the higher-level information design and content development tasks that we want to do. Scott and Aaron also assert that outsourcing to India will force tech writers in more first-world countries to expand their skill sets beyond writing. We'll have to become more technical, more savvy about content re-use and delivery, and eventually grow out of the "basic writer" role.
Things to Consider When Moving to DITA
In this podcast from Just Systems, Amber Swope gives a perfect introduction to the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). DITA is a popular XML architecture that provides technical writers with the capability of single sourcing and re-use. Swope explains DITA basics, including the meaning of the name, topic-based authoring, the three topic types (reference, task, and concept), the DITA Open Source Toolkit, output formats, specialization, and other details. It's a great introduction to the topic without any heavy product slant from the sponsor.
Tip for Listening to Podcasts
If you struggle to find good podcasts, subscribe to my recommended podcast feed. If you haven't gotten into podcasts yet, be sure you're not trying to listen to them while sitting passively at your computer. Load them up onto your MP3 player and listen to them while you're at the gym or driving to or from work.
To enable the audio in your car, get a wireless FM transmitter from your local electronics store. You'll find that once you start listening to podcasts, you'll realize how much more informative and entertaining they are in contrast to whatever happens to be on the radio.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.