Yearly Archives: 2011

Tech Comm’s Place in the Choir

All God’s creatures got a place in the choir Some sing low and some sing higher Bill Staines Traditionally, technical manuals have been written as if they were the only source of information on a product. Of course, the manual was never really the only source. There have always been neighbors, friends, colleagues, retailers, user’s… Read More »

Structured Writing is not Desktop Publishing plus Angle Brackets

What constitutes a “real” XML editor? The question is perennial, but is made topical by Tom Aldous’ surprisingly shrill defense of FrameMaker as an XML editor. It is unusual for a market-leading company to indulge in myth-busting aimed at tiny competitors. It is an approach more common to the small and desperate. But if we… Read More »

Why documentation analytics may mislead

I was rereading some material in the long-running do-people-read-the-manual debate (such as Tom Johnson’s If No One Reads the Manual, That’s Okay), and it struck me that there is an assumption that people on both sides of this debate are making which deserves some scrutiny. We all assume that technical documentation operates at first hand.… Read More »

Technical Communication in Children’s Literature

I recently came across a reference to technical communication in a children’s book. I’m wondering how many other such references they might be. (The topic seems apt given Tom Johnson’s recent questions about the place of technical writing in the high school curriculum.) I was delighted when I found out recently that Joan Aiken‘s Armitage… Read More »

Are We Causing Readers to Forget?

Could the way we organize content actually be causing readers to forget what they have read, or even why they were reading? In a post on the Technical Communication Professionals Email List, Mike Tulloch provides a link to a study from Notre Dame that suggest that walking through doors causes people to forget things  (http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/27476-walking-through-doorways-causes-forgetting-new-research-shows/).… Read More »

Do Structured Writing and Crowdsourcing Mix?

Are structured writing and crowd-sourced content on divergent paths, or can you have both? It’s a pretty hot topic right now. Sarah O’Keefe recently  tweeted: Must push XML and structure out to masses and need better tools for that @boses#lavacon Linda Urban recently tweeted this: Yep! RT @finiteattention: The problems of crowdsourced user assistance: http://xkcd.com/979#ua#techcomm… Read More »