23
Feb
2014

I attended the tcworld India 2014 conference and it had a mixed variety of topics on authoring tools, project management, innovation and trends, and a dedicated track on language and localization. Here are a few takeaways from this event.

The Future of Content (Sarah O’Keefe, Scriptorium)

tcworld.India.2014.Sarah

In her keynote address, Sarah talked about the future of content. I particularly liked her comments on MVC, Minimum Viable Content where she proposed to define the zone of ‘not enough’ and ‘too much’ content. My tweet:

Structuring (Sissi Closs, C-Topic Consulting)

Sissi talked about the exponential growth of content. She shared a video as ‘Do you know’ where I particularly liked a statement: ‘We are teaching our kids to prepare them for jobs that do not exist’. My tweet:

Content Intelligence – Reuse Metrics for CCMS (Wolfgang Zielger, Germany)

Wolfgang talked about ‘content intelligence, reuse metrics’, something completely new to me. He talked about how to calculate ‘content sharing factor‘ to help us derive relevant reuse metrics; interesting stuff. My tweet:

The Game of Content Strategy (Sarah, Scriptorium)

Sarah presented a few business scenarios to different groups in the audience, and asked them to plan for ‘business problem, business case, the solution, its risks and benefits’. It was a useful exercise where we realized how important it is ‘to identify and write the business problem and business case accurately’. My tweet:

Content Modeling (My own presentation)

A majority of the participants were from product documentation background and they were interested to know about content modeling, something new to them. I liked:

  • Full house: The track captain had to arrange for additional seating arrangements; always a heartening feeling for the presenter
  • Food for thought: Many participants turned to me after the presentation, with their questions and comments. Giving them a good food for thought, mission accomplished!

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PS: There is some issue in how embedded tweets appear in this post. I checked the code and it is correct. I have written to twitter support, I would update this post to get the real embedded tweets view.

01
Feb
2014

At the TCWorld India Conference 2014, I will be speaking on ‘Content Modeling, What, Why and How’. After working as a technical communicator for first few years, I am enjoying my current work in project scoping and analysis, and information architecture. Here are the details in brief.

Schedule

  • Friday, 21 February 2014
  • Time: 12:00 to 12:45 (noon of course)

Please see the conference program for detailed conference program, and see content modeling, for an introduction to my presentation.

Why I am Speaking on ‘Content Modeling’

While working on one of my assignments as a technical communicator, I had to work on a couple of proposals in response to RFPs. I started project scope analysis, and brainstorming for project requirements though I struggled to map the business goals with product development team’s expertise. Gradually I started realizing that product is not made to fit in the team’s expertise rather the CMS or development environment is selected based on what the business needs.

This is where I learnt about content modeling and found that it is such an important cog in the content strategy wheel.

In the presentation, I plan to talk about:

  • What is content modeling and why it is so important
  • How we plan effective content models
  • How effective content models help us address modern day challenges in content planning and publishing, such as adaptive content for multi-channel publishing
  • And yes, the finer points of blobs-vs-chunks

Who is This For

If you are new to content modeling, or if you are struggling to plan effective and scalable content models, you can join me there in Bangalore.

See you there!

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I will share the deck within a few days of the conference.

01
Jan
2014

This particular day of 01 January gives us a good reason of how we can connect or disconnect our immediate past with our immediate future. As I create new folders 2014 in mailbox, in D:\vh1\2014, and for specific projects and program, here is a quick recap of how my professional year 2013 connects with 2014, in 34 points.

New Learning

  1. Technical Communication and Content: WordPress as documentation platform, Unstructured FrameMaker (new to me in 2013), Help & Manual, helpiq, screensteplive
  2. Information architecture for a few web apps
  3. Content modeling (as an important cog in content strategy)
  4. Facebook page content strategy
  5. Business: Product envisioning, Market research for new product scope and strategy, Lean UX and prototyping, MVP and Launch strategy

(Continue Reading…)

28
Dec
2013

I am moving this site to another server and this website may not be available for a few days. I will update this message once it is ported to new server successfully. Thank you.

21
Dec
2013

As the year 2013 comes to close, I take a moment to go back to my blog and pick a few posts that I really enjoyed writing in 2013. Here is my pick of ten favorite posts on this blog, in no particular order.

My top three in technical communication and content strategyIn this post, I talked about my top three in technical communication, such as what three books I have not read and I want to read, three professionals I have never met personally and I want to meet for a day, and three events or conferences that I want to attend.

Content too has its emotional needsIn this post, I discussed a few scenarios of how content might feel if it has its own emotions. I assumed that content too has its emotional needs and an unstructured content or poor content models  annoys content itself.

Content Inventory: The quantitative content auditThe first step in content audit is to prepare a comprehensive list of all digital assets of a website. In this post, I talk about how to plan and prepare content inventory for a website.

Search UX in a few well-known products’ documentation: In this post, I discussed my analysis of  how Search is implemented in a few select products, including in Basecamp, PayPal, Twitter, LinkedIn, Paper-li, Gmail, and CodeAcademy.

Using WordPress for Product knowledgbase developmentIn this post, I share slides from my talk at tcworld India conference in February 2013, on ‘Using WordPress for product knowledgbase development’.

Technical writing and helpdeskIn this post, I talked about how technical writers and helpdesk can understand each other’s role, and work together for the common goal.

Business case for structured authoringIn this post, I talked about an example of how I proposed a business case to one of my clients for moving to structured authoring.

STC Elections: Interview with Kit BrownIn this post, I posted my conversation with Kit Brown, who was running for the ‘office of the vice-president’ for STC office 2013 elections.

Review of Stefan’s Talk ‘Leading the ChangeI attended Stefan’s session on ‘Leading the Change’ during tcworld India Conference. In this post, I talk about what his slides and his message.

A ‘failed’ documentation projectThis was an interesting post where I talked about how I failed at a documentation project, and what I got to learn.

In addition to these ten posts at this blog, I wrote two guest posts at:

Scott Abel’s blog: STC Memberships: Cost, Benefits, and Value 

STC notebook: Documentation Teams and Support Center

Thank you for reading these posts and I hope to continue writing on different topics in 2014 too.

14
Nov
2013

A few weeks back, I saw a young couple asking ‘top three’ from each other, by turn. For example, the questions were ‘Your top three preferred holiday destinations’, or ‘three persons you love to meet whom you have never seen and who are alive’.

Their conversation gave me some food for thought as I tried to apply it to my work life. I loved this exercise and it contributed to my clarity of thought when I am at work. I have listed a few questions that I asked myself and my answers to self.

Three professional events that I want to attend in 2014

  • Tekom (Germany)
  • Content Strategy Forum (csforum 2013 was planned in Helsinki)
  • IA Summit (IA Summit 2013 was planned in Baltimore, MD)

Notable omissions: Lavacon (see Lavacon 2013), Intelligent Content Conference (ICC 2014)

Three books I want to read

  • Information Development: Managing Documentation Projects, Portfolio, and People (Paperback) by JoAnn T. Hackos (See details)
  • DITA Best Practices: A Roadmap for Writing, Editing and Architecting in DITA by Laura Bellamy, Michelle Carey, Jenifer Schlotfeld (See details)
  • Content Strategy 101: Transform Technical Content into a Business Asset, by Sarah S. O’Keefe (Author) , Alan S. Pringle  (Author) , Ann Rockley (Foreword)  (See details)

Three professionals whom I have never met in person and I would like to meet and discuss content and tech comm

Notable Miss outs: Richard Lippincott

Three companies or Brands I would have loved to worked with

  • Apple
  • Apple
  • Google

Three online documentation examples that I like or refer to for structure, model, comprehensiveness, style, purpose-driven, accuracy and experience

  • Skype
  • Twitter
  • BaseCamp

PS: Responding to the above questions almost tired me out and hence is the following question.

Three countries or cities that I wish technical communicators should spend their vacations

  • Cape Town
  • Prague
  • Vienna

If you are interested to answer these questions, please use the form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GTSJKCW. I will try to use and publish a consolidated response depending on the overall response to these questions.

Important Post Update on 17 November: I got response from a few writers via the link I had shared. However, a few writers include Larry as he mentioned in his comment, and Jack Molisani found issues in sending the completed the form. Although I had tested it before posting it live, I tested it again and found it working fine. My associates too could complete and send it, even from different browsers. For those who are struggling, here is the updated link where I have changed the ‘mandatory’ settings for posting that form. Please try again at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GTSJKCW.

Thank you.

08
Nov
2013

My first job was as a support centre executive (SCE) and that experience actually helped me understand the finer points of documentation responsibilities and challenges. I talked about in detail at, Technical Writing and HelpDesk: The New Order. A few area of common ground are:

  • Customers have pain points
  • Persistence and consistency
  • Quality control and performance benchmarks
  • Branding
  • Up-sell

Documentation teams can collaborate with support teams for the common goal, to address users’ concerns. I talked about in detail at STC’s blog: Documentation Teams and Support Teams: Collaboration for a Common Goal.

(Continue Reading…)

30
Oct
2013

STC memberships are open now and I have written a guest post as ‘STC Membership – Cost, Value and Benefits’ for Scott Abel’s blog, at: http://thecontentwrangler.com/2013/10/28/stc-membership-cost-benefits-and-value/.

In this post, I talked about:

  • How STC membership can be of good value particularly for beginners and relatively less experienced tech comm professionals
  • Why I will renew my STC membership
  • Why a few experts and veterans do not see any value in membership
  • My take on their concerns and what STC is doing to address those concerns
  • The way forward for STC

Please add your comments here, or at Scott Abel’s blog where the detailed post is available.

 

11
Oct
2013

As humans, we respond and react to different situations all day. We raise eyebrows when we are stuck in an unexpected traffic jam or when the elevator takes too long to reach us. We feel annoyed when MS Word stops responding and we need to start it all over again. By reflex action, we pull our hand back when it brushes against a hot cup of tea. Quite often, we murmur… Jesus! God! Or Crap!

What if content too has its emotions. Consider a few scenarios.

Content Struggles to Move

In the car parking area below my office, I often see drivers struggling to move around and take their car out. The space looks something as below.

(Continue Reading…)

08
Oct
2013

The following is a guest post by Swapnil Ogale, a technical writer based in Australia.

 


Working as a Contractor – Technical Writer across various industries, I have used a number of techniques to create a wide range of documentation, such as Online Help, FAQs, User Guides, Process Flows, Troubleshooting guides.

I was interviewed (by the organisation I currently work for) with a specific task of creating developer documentation for a data warehouse project. One of the first things I discovered once I started working here was that they have never had a Technical Writer in the organisation before, so anything I plan/recommend would mean the starting point for any such conversation in the future. During the first few weeks of research and scoping the documentation needs, I realised the content had the potential of being used and re-used across various other avenues.

(Continue Reading…)