Email from South Africa

“I am getting benefit from this newsletter and find many of the articles it refers to are interesting and useful.

Many complementary newsletters by companies out there focus on only promoting their products and giving little useful information on top of that. Yours strikes a nice balance between being useful and a marketing tool at the same time.
Thank you.”

Change to our online shop

We’ve made a slight change to our online shop today. It now lists the prices of the courses and reports in Sterling (£). You are still able to pay in US dollars and Euro, so there should the change shouldn’t have any significant impact when you purchase a course. We’ve made the change to simplify the accounting aspects behind the scenes.

AuthorIT Live!

Ray Duncan from AuthorIT was in town this week, and I had an excellent chat with him yesterday afternoon. It was a great opportunity to throw out some suggestions for their product, and to get an update on what’s due out in the near future.

AuthorIT Live!, which is due out very soon, sounds really exciting. It should offer a great environment for collaborative authoring – a flexible environment for professional technical authors and a controlled environment for engineers; access to the system wherever there’s a PC with broadband access; plus all the other existing AuthorIT capabilities.

Visual Communications Weekend

STC UK Chapter Conference 23rd – 24th June 2007

The STC is planning to have a Job Information Corner at this event and has kindly offered Cherryleaf the opportunity to include details of its current vacancies and services.

Here are the details on the event itself:

“Special Guest Speaker: Patrick Hofmann

Patrick Hofmann is a man of few words. In fact, he’s an expert at creating better technical documentation using fewer words and more pictures. As a trained technical writer and now a visual interaction designer, Patrick has spent the last thirteen years helping clients like Sky, Nokia, Motorola, Philips, FedEx, HP, BASF, and AGFA improve the usability of their products–often by visualising their online, hardcopy, and interface information.

Patrick is back in the UK and will be our special guest at our “Communicating Visually” weekend on 23rd-24th June in Cambridge. On Saturday 23rd June he will be speaking on “Pictures and profits: the return-on-investment of visual information design and usability testing”, and on Sunday 24th June Patrick will be leading an in-depth intensive seminar on “Intuitive Images”. “

Patrick is a lovely man, an entertaining speaker and an expert in his field.

Create User Documentation – Is this really what we’re doing?

One of our business partners, Dr Alan Rae, has written an excellent report on Web 2.0 early adopter research.

In partnership with Brunel University, Alan’s company has been talking to some early adopters about how they have been using Web 2.0 techniques to punch above their weight.

Again, it raises issues that relate to how technical authors might use Web 2.0 technologies to engage (or not) with their audience.

Here are some quotations from Alan’s article. My comments are in brackets:

“They (early adopters) learned to start with on-line conversations, develop trust, build collaborative partnerships which spread the costs of customer acquisition and use the tools of Web 2.0 to build and deploy an on-line knowledge base of testimonials and examples of their work to build credibility and attract interest and referrals…

But the most interesting thing of all is how individuals – often in their second or third careers and often one man bands – use the collaboration implicit in web 2.0 to rapidly develop their own knowledge of how to exploit these tools – a knowledge denied to their corporate counterparts by the IT department and the rigours of having to compete with each other…

Contrast this with the situation in the corporate and public sector ghettos where the worker bees huddle behind their firewalls drinking skinny latte and answering emails…

Because this is the other difference. In the “official” world the role of the IT department is to keep everything locked down in the interests of security…

If a sufficiently large section of the population gets its information and does its business in an informal and creative way, how does the corporate marketer (or technical communicator), ensconced behind his firewall communicate with them?

This seems to be a key fault-line in many areas of life at present. There is a discrepancy between the official world of security, audit, tick-box and prescription on the one hand and the behaviour patterns for learning, communication and doing business that people adopt when they are able to drop the bureaucracy and behave honestly, immediately and creatively.”

His project will produce a workbook and workshops based on the case studies later in the year. Our report on applying Web 2.0 to technical communication is here.

Book is cool with SMS

The way language evolves – if you send a SMS text message on your mobile phone, using predictive text, and you choose to use the word “cool”, the word will initially be displayed as “book”. Both words require pressing 2665 on the keypad of a mobile phone.

Because many people cannot be bothered (or should that be bovvered?) to go back and correct this, they leave it as “book”.

Which leads to messages like “That YouTube video is so book”, and a new meaning for book entering the language. These are known as T9onyms.

Linking Secondlife to technical communication

I’ve been wondering for a while how/if Secondlife could be used as a medium for technical communicators. Yesterday I received an email that illustrated one way of using it. It said:

“DITA User Meeting at Secondlife. Join us today at the DITA Chat-Meeting in Secondlife. Today Tuesday again at
9:00 – 10:00 am PT/PDT
12:00 – 1:00 pm ET/EDT
6:00 – 7:00 pm CET/CEDT

SIM Address at Secondlife: Addicted to Reality 13, 27, 24
Explore the new way of meetings.”

I suppose it makes a change from a traditional conference call.

There are a number of organisations I know that are using Secondlife to market/advertise there services. Could it also, I wonder, be used to deliver training seminars?