It's a New Media world!

Subject: It's a New Media world!
From: Adam -dot- Lund -at- metaware -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 12:10:17 -0700

Chantel, and TECHWR-L:

>>I've been thinking about the future of technical communication and I've
become very interested in what is now termed "new media." I've begun to
research this and I think that the convergence of film/radio/tv/book in an
*electronic* environment will have a big impact on the technical
communication field.<<

New media having an impact on technical communication? Yes, and in a big
way right now.

Have you ever seen a technical presentation, training, or help system for
that matter, which was so full of cylinders and boxes that you felt
like losing your lunch? Unfortunately for many new employees (in training
sessions), software
users, and presentation attendees abstract concepts that
could have been presented visually have detracted from the learning

I personally feel that conference room chairs should be equipped with
airsick bags for
those "box and cylinder" moments.

Rich media (see <soapbox> below) over traditional documentation/training is
the answer to complicated diagrams and abstract concepts. Task oriented doc
will always be around. Companies thinking of better ways to educate
their customers and their own people find that leveraging rich media gives
competitive advantage. Rich media also provides a little of the "wow"
factor and tends to feel more entertaining on the receiving end.

I have authored several conceptual level and task level help projects in
Macromedia Flash. My customers went crazy over a help system I authored in
Flash and immediately wanted more. The response from their customers was
overwhelmingly positive.
Another customer wanted to incorporate animation in a help system to aid
users' understanding of a complicated process. Flash
worked well in both cases because of its web capabilities (especially for
web enabled applications), as well as its already installed user base and
ease of installation (ever use the Authorware web plugin?).

Flash is useful to display visual information and make sense of very
complex concepts (databases, network systems, software organization,
processes, methodologies, etc.). One particular help system I authored
showed how a data warehouse was constructed. Imagine being able to visually
interact with an animated data warehouse.

So when you're in Visio putting together this hugely complex diagram (you
know, pages of circles, cubes, and cylinders) and thinking "If I could only
show how this piece fits into that one" -- I urge you to turn to a Flash
designer for help.

"New media" was replaced by "rich media" over a year ago as the new
buzzterm to describe the technology and discourse of converging media
(video, voice, music, animation, online help, etc.). Rich media is the
technological means of converging media, but technical communication
provides a framework and discipline. Technical communicators can leverage
rich media to create totally cool, and usable online help, tutorials,
product walkthroughs, and yes, even task oriented documentation.

Adam Lund

Learn how to develop HTML-based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver!
Dec. 7-8, 2000, Orlando, FL -- $100 discount for STC members. or 800-646-9989.

Your web site localized into 32 languages? Maybe not now, but sooner than
you think. Download ForeignExchange's FREE paper, "3 steps to successful
translation management" at

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