TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for May 4, 2012

This week’s update on technical communications and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Adobe & RoboHelp 9 |

One of the busiest threads on the TechWhirl email discussion list this week epitomizes the challenges when “traditional” technical communications intersects with the goliath of social media, Facebook. Monique Semp decided to turn to the list for wording/word suggestions about what happens when users “follow” other users, or “friend” (verb) in the parlance of Facebook itself.  This discussion was fascinating on a number of levels:

  • The situation referenced documenting an application that integrates with Facebook – a traditional tech writing duty for a new kind of app.
  • A discussion ensued about the proper terminology – traditional TechWhirl activity.
  • New words and new uses for words were suggested – an increasingly common activity in the community.
  • Another discussion ensued on passive versus active voice – another traditional community activity.
  • The discussion morphed to verbification of nouns – a more recent tradition and gripe in the community.
  • Contributors cited sources, and identified differences among media (follow on Twitter, like on Facebook, etc.) – the educational nature of the community.
  • Posters recognized that current usage and proper usage are in conflict – the philosophical nature of the community.

Perhaps this is just a good example of “everything old is new again.”  But it’s also evidence that our concepts of the purpose of the community and how we perform our technical communications chores are changing almost as quickly as the technology around us.

Kudos to DCL (Data Conversion Labs) for hosting a terrific webinar on incorporating eBook content conversion into content strategy. “Assessing the Convertability of Your Content” featured Jack Molisani (LavaCon) interviewing Joe Gollner (Gnostyx Research), Val Swisher (Content Rules) and Scott Abel (The Content Wrangler).  Look for a recording of the webinar to be posted on DCL YouTube channel shortly.  In the meantime, here’s a recap of content on TechWhirl this week:

  The EBook Publishing – Technical Communication Mutual Learning Opportunity

During WritersUA, TechWhirl’s Keith Soltys sat down with Joshua Tallent, founder of eBook Architects to discuss the present and future of eBooks, the state of the technology, and how much technical communications and eBook trade publishing can learn from each other to produce good, readable, accessible content.

  Technical Writing Poll: Justifying Conference Attendance with SWAG

Everybody likes free stuff. Let ‘s face it, SWAG (Stuff We All Get) is one of the great benefits of attending professional conferences. While it doesn’t make up for dealing with airport security or writing trip reports, SWAG is cool… most of the time. But is technical communications SWAG better than other professional SWAG?

  Tips and Tricks for Technical Writers: Google Freely and Productively

Google is everywhere. Really. So it’s no wonder Google wants to help you migrate into the cloud, and they make it easy because their services work seamlessly and amazingly well with each other. If you have a Google Account, you have access to a plethora of programs and services, some of which you may not even be aware of, that can make your everyday life much more productive. These services can be a boon for technical communicators who want to break the chains of the old-fashioned desktop and move their digital lives onto personal, mobile, smart devices.

Have a terrific weekend!

-The gang at TechWhirl

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