A Few Software Tips to Make Technical Writing Easier

LugIron recently praised a video response that a vendor made to a customer, calling it "an outstanding example of Social Documentation at work." The customer loved the video, especially given that it was personally created by the company founder. Ten years ago, such a quick response wouldn't have been possible except at a large time cost from the company. But with the software tools today, even sharing multimedia documentation is somewhat...

Humor essay about a car manual's diction

Kai Weber linked to this in the technical communication newsgroup, and I found it pretty funny. Extremely well-written and entertaining, this short humor piece pokes fun of the language the technical writer ("Ezekiel") uses. It makes you realize that your audience is not always the quick-reading, frustrated user we sometimes assume. Sometimes it's a linguist who revels in every little detail.

"Social Documentation" -- Cool but Problematic

I hadn't heard of the term "social documentation" before, but it describes the Twitter responses, video replies, and other social media formats that support centers use to provide responses to technical problems customers ask about. This post by LugIron shows an example of a video response. The problem with social documentation is that, if it's not incorporated into the documentation, the support center will have to respond again -- and a...

The Importance of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in Job Searches

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook are all becoming key tools in job searching, helping candidates and employers connect with each other. Social media is no longer something that people should hide. Thanks @stcsandiego for the link.

Students Engaged by Discussion, Not Smart Classrooms

All the money spent on making classrooms smart and high tech is basically a waste, since students find these formats boring. What really engages people is discussion and participation. Teachers should strip out all the "smart" gear and reformat the classroom back to the same structure that existed in Athens. (Link courtesy of tc.eserver.org)

Three Books on DITA

Eddie VanArsdall reviews three books on DITA in his post, Slouching Toward Ditaville. If you're interested in adopting DITA, or even if you just want to borrow some of its best practices, check out one of these books -- by Rockley, Vazquez, and Comtech.

Convert RSS Feeds into a Magazine Format with Zinepal

Zinepal is a service that takes your RSS feed and automatically converts it into newsletter/magazine-like PDF or Kindle format. This would be great for chapters who still send out paper newsletters that pull content from their blogs.

The Link Between Creativity and Organization

This podcast interview with a professional organizer is fascinating. In Hebrew, the word "create" is the same as the word "organize." Organization clears your mind and enables you to be more creative. Listening to this podcast made me want to clean my house and organize my closets.

Productivity Tip: Paper Number Piles

Last week I discovered a technique for increasing productivity at work. It's so simple it's almost funny, but it is working. I tore up an index card into 10 little squares, numbering them one through ten. In the morning, before I launch into the work of the day, I write down the top ten tasks I want to accomplish for that day. As I finish the first task, I take the paper square number 1 and move it to a pile on the right. When I finish th...

Carcast: Friday Thoughts on Reading, Publish2, and Writer River

Listen here: I recorded a carcast on the way home this evening. In the carcast, I explain how I've changed Writer River to incorporate Publish2.com's link sharing technology. Using Publish2, you add links to your blog, twitter account, and a technical communication newsgroup at the same time. Publish2 provides a robust platform for managing and publishing your links. I also talk about why I'm interested in Writer River a...

Applying Strunk and White's "Omit Needless Words" to Life

A writer takes William Strunk's advice to "omit needless words" and applies it to his life to omit needless things. I so need to do this. (Thanks Collin Turner for the link.)

New Intermountain-STC Chapter Site

We launched a new website for the STC-Intermountain chapter this week. We're using WordPress as the platform. The theme is Streamline from Studio Press. One of the more interesting parts of the site is our Member List page, which shows every registered site user. Usually WordPress only allows you to generate a list of site authors. Authors are people who have written a post. But with the Member List plugin, you can show users of any role....

All About Technical Writing -- The Writing Show

This is an informative intro-to-technical writing podcast by Alistair Christie. Great for writers trying to determine whether technical writing is a field they should pursue. It's always refreshing to hear Alistair's perspectives.

Every piece of content matters - an interview with Gerry McGovern | Information & Design

Listened to this podcast last night and this morning. Gerry McGovern talks about the importance of "care words" on a website. These words are the content people are looking for but aren't using in the search engines. He says finding the right words to match what the customer is looking for can make a huge impact on how the customer interprets the relevance of the site. For those non-podcast listeners, Gaffney transcribes the podcast too. ...

Apple blogger makes living from blog

When I read about guys like John Gruber, who make their living from their blog, it fills me with envy. I want to do that. Not sure if tech comm's audience is large enough, but perhaps someday.