Blog Articles

Back in the room!
Richard Pineger, 23 February 2017

Wow, I've been out of the loop for 4 years working on projects away from the Internet (I know! is that even possible?) and missed one, single, Technical Communications conference (my first in 21 years). And so much has moved on! The Internet is buzzing with talk of semantically rich Intelligent Content. Of course, like all the best ideas, it makes perfect sense and feels like it was always this way. But is this craze simply the Emperor's New Clothes? a re-brand of old ideas? Well, (obviously), yes and no!

Yes: Intelligence in content is more and more possible, software tools, maturing analytics, big data. Although the pioneers of GML/SGML (which became XML) in 1969 made this possible (they certainly were visionaries!) the agility and velocity of modern, revenue-earning, web content is startling.

No: The methodology for creating these systems is still promoting really basic principles of Business Analysis, formalized into a Body of Knowledge in about 2003 - there's even a Dummies Guide*. It includes steps: determine stakeholders, gather needs, agree requirements and then think about technology.

I've been doing some reading and the most enlightening source so far was from the thought leaders in Intelligent Content, given away freely as an introduction to the Intelligent Content Conference (Las Vegas, March 28-30, 2017).

Footnotes: *buy it for any device from Feedbooks - note that this is not an endorsement and we do not receive any referral fees

Well Storm Doris, that was fun! 
Sarah Pineger, 23 February 2017

How did you all get on? We seemed to have escaped relatively unscathed, our fence panels are still up and the roof tiles are on the roof. A good friend did not fair so well, her greenhouse came crashing down, creating a mess of glass and saplings!

What has this got to do with technical authoring? Well, one function of a technical writer is to write clear and concise procedures. Procedures that employees not only understand but also follow. So when the greenhouse comes crashing down, what do we do next?

Most procedures are sunny day, they assume your business will run smoothly. But, when something happens, something in your business becomes out of your control; a system failure, or a cyber attack. At this point, sound and practised procedures quickly move your business into the eye of the storm where calmness prevails while you watch competitors straining against the wind. Everyone will know what they need to do, who they need to contact, and what their priorities are, and how to keep working whilst necessary reparations are taking place. And, finally, if it is the greenhouse, because you thought in advance, there's always the insurance.