NY Times criticized for letting Pogue maintain Apple bias

Techcrunch says the New York Times' ethics policy of distance and objectivity contradicts their acceptance of David Pogue as an Apple fan boy. Journalists must maintain more distance and objectivity. This criticism reminds me of the case of Chez Pazienza, a CNN blogger fired for expressing views on his blog that contrasted with CNN's more conservative outlook. This is perhaps a subtle danger of blogging: holding views on your personal blo...

WordPress Tip: WordPress Worm Requires Upgrade to 2.8.4

I woke up from my long Sunday nap to see all kinds of commotion about upgrading WordPress to 2.8.4 due to a worm that is currently circulating. The WordPress blog reports: Right now there is a worm making its way around old, unpatched versions of WordPress. This particular worm, like many before it, is clever: it registers a user, uses a security bug (fixed earlier in the year) to allow evaluated code to be executed through the permalink ...

Writing as Conversation -- Brainsparks Podcast with Ginny Redish

In a recent User Interface Engineering Brainsparks podcast, Jared Spool interviews Ginny Redish about her book, Letting Go of the Words: Writing as Conversation, as it applies to interface design. This podcast was one of the best I've listened to all week. In the podcast, Ginny explains how your content should be like the answer to a user's questions. Not styled as an FAQ, but written anticipating and responding to questions the user migh...

The best time to publish your blog posts

In When is the Best Time and Day to Publish a Blog Post, Lorelle Van Fossen explores a question that has become increasingly more relevant to me: when to publish your posts. I definitely get more responses to posts that I publish Sunday evening through Thursday, similar to Lorelle's experiences. Also, most of the traffic seems to come during work hours. This tells me that my audience considers my blog somehow related to their work (that, ...

Creativity in the Workplace

In previous posts, I've explored whether technical writing is boring. Penelope Trunk's latest post, All advice on how to manage creative people is awful, made me see the topic of workplace boredom in a different light. Citing research in sociology, Penelope explains that "people who work are happier than people who don't because people who are employed spend more of their time being creative." Creativity, then, is an important factor...

Avoiding the Shut Down Mode

In a recent episode of This American Life titled "Going Big," Geoffrey Canada explains his model of Baby College, which is a nine-week workshop where poor, inner-city parents to be  learn to raise their children in ways that break their children out of the poverty cycle. Canada gives up on breaking the parents out of the poverty cycle and instead focuses on teaching parents the childhood rearing techniques that will enable the children to...

STC's Online Certificate Courses

First time I've seen STC Online Certificate Courses. They look excellent. $595 per course, and there are four courses, each consisting of 5-8 sessions per course. Each of the instructors looks solid. Thanks @AndreaJWenger for the link.

Clive Thompson on the New Literacy

A scholar conducts a 6 year study of student writing and finds that, despite constant accusations that social media is taking writing downhill, actually "we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization." I have to agree -- it is a cool effect that the social web is creating. The world needs more writers.

An argument for slowing down in an age of rapid online exchanges

This Manifesto for Slow Communication (linked by Karen Mardahl) will make you think twice about the benefits of social networks, email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, and all the constant noise, hectic rushing, and mindless processing that it produces in your life. Busyness—or the simulated busyness of email addiction—numbs the pain of this awareness [awareness of death], but it can never totally submerge it. Given that our days are limited, our ...

Why teens don't use Twitter

Fascinating NYTimes.com article about why teenagers don't use Twitter (linked by Eddie VanArsdall). A few reasons teens avoid Twitter: it makes it difficult to hide what they're doing, parents don't want teens interacting with strangers, the communication is less friend driven and more professional oriented, the tweets are better for marketing or asking questions or broadcasting ideas. Although I tweet, I certainly wouldn't want my kids o...

Podcast with Anne Gentle about her Conversation and Community book

Listen here: As a follow-up to my review of Anne Gentle's book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation, I also interviewed her for a podcast. Now you can listen to Anne talk about some of the concepts in her book in a more personal way through the headphones of your iPod. In this 40 minute podcast, we cover questions such as the following: What's the first step in connecting with your users? Why a...

Review of Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation

One of the perks about being a blogger is that authors occasionally send me their books to review. Recently Anne Gentle sent me her new book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation. Anne's book is particularly important because it addresses the situation of the technical writer today, with the web in the state it is -- user generated, filled with blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, social networks, and speckled with com...

Converting Lurkers into Contributors in Online Communities -- Nielsen's 90-9-1 Rule

Jakob Nielsen explains that with web 2.0 communities, 90% are lurkers who never contribute, 9% contribute a little, and 1% actively contribute. I wish I knew the secret formula for reversing those statistics. Nielsen mentions a few strategies for improving those stats at the end. One strategy is to take advantage of"read wear," which refers to the natural marks of reading. Online, I believe it means to give more weight or to make more vis...

A Refreshing Angle on the Name of our Profession

I enjoyed David Farbey's post on the name we should call our profession. Aligning our name with the most profitable business model makes sense. If you look at indeed.com for jobs as a "technical communicator," you won't find hardly any. Look for "technical writer" and you find a ton. So what is the benefit of calling ourselves technical communicators, when no one is hiring technical communicators?

Making Spaces in Cluttered Houses and Cluttered Lives

In a world of increasing social media, work, activities, and other obligations, it's easy for our lives to become quickly cluttered. Just last week an old friend wrote and explained that she was finally listening to some of my podcasts and really enjoyed them. In particular, she listened to the podcast with Ricardo Amigo about technical writing, in which I explain some of the new tools (i.e., Flash and Illustrator) I'm trying to learn. My...