Next in Tech Comm

These articles let you know what's next in the industry and how it will impact your career.

technical communication trends 2013

A Vision of 2013: Five Technical Communication Trends

Now that we see 2012 in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reset the GPS to identify and track the technical communication trends that will shape what we do and how we do it in 2013. We've compiled this list--UX, mobile, responsive design, branding and globalization--through our experience, by noting trends on our email discussion group, and by monitoring the community at large. Continue reading ...

SXSW Eco: A Technical Communicator’s Experience

Like some other lucky people, I won free passes to SXSW Eco, a conference "committed to finding solutions for a sustainable world," which was held October 3-5 this year. I am not an ecologist, city planner, or environmental engineer. Would I be able to get anything from a conference that was quite far from my typical work life? As it turned out, most definitely. Continue reading ...

automatic content

Can Computers Write? Advances in Automatic Content Production

In the summer of 1993, I had an enjoyable university summer job. The research interests of the institute that employed me included creating an artificial intelligence system that could produce automatic précis of legal judgments. The idea was that humans like me would create a précis by hand, by selecting enough sentences from the judgment that it provided a reliable summary. My selections were recorded, and the idea then was to use neural network software to learn from the work of the human editors so that the process of creating a précis could be automated. The researchers had uncovered certain linguistic insights. Continue reading ...

Robot icon for Maker Faire

Makers of the World Unite: Tech Comm, Art, and the Maker Movement

In every age of scientific exploration, there have been stories of the everyman inventor, the humble pioneer who changed the world while working from scratch. The 19th century had Pierre and Marie Curie, while the 20th century had the stories of Alexander Fleming and Bill Gates. The 21st century may well tell the story of the “maker movement”, a subculture of inventors, engineers and scientists who create everything from open source software programs to personal robots in their spare time and with their own materials. This century may be the age of the invention community - ordinary people sharing the simple joy of creating something with their own two hands with a worldwide network of their fellow inventors. Continue reading ...

top 12 technical communication articles 11

Pinterest: What My Mother Can Teach You About Content Strategy and Technical Communications

I was talking with my mother last week, and she mentioned that she’s enjoying gathering and sharing pictures of boxer puppies on Pinterest. I said “On what?” I had no idea what she was talking about. It’s not often that my mother gets the jump on me in the internet realm, but she certainly did this time. So I looked into it. Being a content strategist with more than a passing interest in technical communications, I’m afraid I looked at it from a somewhat unique point of view. The result? This article. (Thanks, Mom!) Continue reading ...

Crowdsourcing as a Technical Communication Exercise

Summer replay: In the last two posts I suggested crowdsourcing as both a pre-existing concept and a means for enlisting the participation of others without their knowing, (and in some cases, without their consent). This post continues with the discussion of active versus passive research techniques, and the power of group think.. There is a significant difference between active research, which is highly controlled, and passive research, which is unpredictable. Wikipedia is the best known example of the power of collective, but controlled, chaos. Continue reading ...

Crowdsourcing: the Double-edged Sword

My interest in crowdsourcing began honestly: It was forced upon me by the powers that be. In my work as a Content Strategist for a large government website, our communications department asked me how they could harness the power of the crowd to give community planners insight into the interests of the constituents within specific neighborhoods. Ordinarily, the project itself would be a boring mix of user polling and statistics, of interest only to a relatively small group who knew about urban planning. Continue reading ...

online meeting tool

Alternatives to Face-to-face Technical Communication Conferences

Few can dispute the benefits of attending a professional conference. Whether you attend the STC annual conference, WritersUA, LavaCon, SIGDOC, IPCC, or one of the numerous other technical communication-oriented meetings, you attend for the opportunities--to sharpen your current skills, learn new skills, catch up with tool and technology trends, pick the brains of leaders in the field, and network, network, network. Let’s take a look at four lower-cost options that can provide many of the same benefits: webinars, virtual conferences, unconferences, and twitter chats. Continue reading ...

Crowdsourcing: The New Black?

What’s in a name? To some, the specifics of a name mean absolutely nothing. To others, that same name means absolutely everything. While some believe as Shakespeare wrote: "...a rose by any other name, its smell is sweet...", Technical Writers in general are more attached to their chosen terms. Today's term is "Crowdsourcing." What is it? What is its relevance to technical communication today? And, the bigger question: Why does my iPhone insist on Capitalizing the C? Continue reading ...