This afternoon, I watched Scott Abel’s webinar What’s Next? Socially-Enabled User Assistance, Interactive Documentation, and Location-Aware Help. It was a tour de force tour of the past, present, and potential future of computer mediated help. But despite all the cool stuff that Scott covered — and he covered a lot of cool stuff — I found myself asking this: how is Help 2.0 different from Usenet 1.0?
Whenever the subject of metadata is discussed, the subject of metadata standards is sure to come up. Should you be using standardized metadata, or define metadata for yourself? Answering this question is no different for metadata than it is for screws or operating systems or paving stones or motor oil: it depends.
I was reflecting today on whether companies are making the best strategic use of their documentation departments. Of course, we doc folk believe that no self respecting corporation should ever let any product go out the door without full, brilliant, richly illustrated documentation — preferable printed on acid free archival quality paper and bound in rich leather embossed with gold lettering. In fact, of course, that virtually never happens, and yet our companies still manage to eek out a return for their shareholders.