There’s not much more to say, apart from “book now to avoid disappointment”: Trends in Technical Communication Course – Advanced Technical Writing Techniques.
Approximately 50% of a Technical Author’s day is spent writing. However, when Technical Publications teams look for efficiencies, they tend to focus on the 50% of time spent on non-writing activities, such as researching, reviewing and planning. They assume the content itself cannot be written more quickly. To an extent, they are right, as the
querty qwerty keyboard is not an optimal layout.
We’ve been going through a process of transcribing our early e-learning modules, in order to have scripts upon which we can base future course updates. As part of this project, we’ve been using a free application called Plover to help us write the content. With Plover, you have the potential to create content (in Word, RoboHelp, Flare, Oxygen XML etc) at up to 225 words per minute (wpm).
Plover is based on chorded typing. You press more than one key at a time to create words. Chorded typing isn’t new – for example, it was demonstrated in Douglas Engelbart’s famous “The mother of all demos“.
Below is a five minute lightning talk on Plover and some of the emerging hardware:
So far, in my case, I’ve been able to double my typing speed. Realistically, those of us participating in this project at Cherryleaf aim to get to 180 words per minute. The reason for this is that most people speak at 160-180 wpm. At that speed, you are able to transcribe subject matter experts in real time – which means there’s no need to record an interview and then type it up at a later date.
There is a learning curve to this method, but it is based on over 100 years of theory and practice. It is tremendous fun – a bit like learning to use a
querty qwerty keyboard for the first time.
Cherryleaf’s Trends in Technical Communication Course – Advanced Technical Writing Techniques will be held on 27th February 2015.
If you want to discover new approaches to technical writing, this one-day, hands-on advanced workshop is right for you.
You’ll find out how Technical Authors in leading companies are now applying techniques from other disciplines (such as psychology, copywriting, usability and elearning) into the information they create.
The course has been designed to be independent of any particular authoring tool, and to work in both a structured and unstructured authoring environment.
Yesterday we released our latest elearning training course – single sourcing and content reuse.
This online training course teaches the basic skills in single sourcing and writing content for reuse. The ten learning modules in this course contain videos of the trainer with supporting slides and images. The course includes exercises for the delegates to complete and review.
Peter Norvig has some interesting statistics on word frequency in the English language. It turns out that four words – the, of, and, to – account for 16.94% of the words we write.
In field of technical communication, Technical Authors typically spend 50% of their time writing and the rest on researching, planning etc. If we adjust for the fact that these four common words are half the length of an average word in English, that means Technical Authors spend an average of 19 minutes every day typing those four words. In a 37.5 hour week, that amounts to 1 hour and 35 mins.
One of the subjects Doug Kim covered in his TCUK14 presentation, on the changes to Microsoft’s user documentation, was how Microsoft now normally begins its Help topics with an empathetic statement. The writers seek to understand the user at the moment they’re reading the content.
For example, if someone is reading the topic on auto save, it’s likely they’ve just experienced a crash and have lost some data. So they express empathy by saying, crashes happen:
By doing this, Microsoft is moving away from the norm – the generally accepted way to structure task topics in DITA and other standards is to dive straight into the task without any introduction.
We think Microsoft has go this right – there is often a need for empathy in technical documentation. Of course, this is difficult if your content could be reused anywhere – you lose the understanding of the user’s point of view. However, being empathetic, from the research Microsoft carried out, is what users, today, prefer.
Our method for creating online courses involves making an audio recording of the presenter, transcribing it, editing the script and then recording the final, video presentation. We’ve tried using speech recognition software to create the transcribed script, and it has been a deeply frustrating experience.
While speech recognition is proving successful for searching and issuing commands (using Siri, Google Voice and Amazon Echo), we’re not sure it will replace the keyboard as the way we create written content.
James Somers is releasing an add-on for Google Docs, Draftback, that enables you to play back and analyse the creation of any Google Doc you have permission to edit.
It means you can see how a writer created the document, the sections they spent time rewriting and rearranging, the elements that were pasted into the document from elsewhere, and so on.
From an organisation’s perspective, the graphs Draftback that produces potentially could be used to show when and where the writer spent most of their time:
I could see this illustrating the impact of last minute changes to a product, review comments and other external factors. Potentially, it could also highlight areas where a writer might need assistance or training.
What do you think?