TechWhirl Tech Comm Recap for January 13, 2012

Subject: TechWhirl Tech Comm Recap for January 13, 2012
From: INKtopia Admin <admin -at- inktopia -dot- net>
To: Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2012 12:50:28 -0500

This week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their
Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool <> |

*From the Desk of the Editor*

“Basics” may be one of those words that mean quite different things to
different people. Judging from the responses to our new poll on must-have
technical communication
interviewing (i.e. interviewing subject matter experts) and research skills
are two most technical communicators can agree on. But, with a third of
respondents in our admittedly unscientific poll ticking the “other”
checkbox, we’re pretty sure that there’s a lot “basics” that change
depending on your industry, your experience and your aspirations. If you
haven’t already voted, take a few seconds to check out the poll, cast your
vote, and if you think there are other basics that we’ve missed, let us
know what they are by posting a comment. TechWhirl Poll: Must-have Skills
for Technical Communicators<>

If you’re trying to reboot your mindset by focusing on the basics, or if
you wonder about the luxury of actually having an editor to work with, read
up on Working with a Technical Editor <>. And what
could be more basic than identifying and setting goals for your tech comm
work? It’s a big part of the focus and success of Adam Polansky,
Information Architect <> at Travelocity, and the
subject of a LavaCon interview by Lois Patterson.

By the time we wave good bye to January, our focus on basics will cover
improving productivity with the most ubiquitous of office software tools,
getting a handle on planning and producing the right amount of
documentation, refreshing and extending your writing skills with a new look
at grammar, and a few other nutritious tidbits of knowledge. Then the
challenge becomes acting on all this useful advice and knowledge.

Looking ahead to the longest month, in February we’ll be talking about
visual communications, and in March we turn to globalization/localization.
We invite you to join the conversations: drop us a note about the
specifics you’d like to see us cover, start some new threads on the discussion
list <>, or post your comments
on current and past articles. Your perspective strengthens the technical
communications community and we hope you’ll share your opinions, ideas and

- The gang at TechWhirl

p.s.: Relax all you
* it’s only one day, and if you need to wait until tomorrow to read this,
we won’t hold it against you.

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

*New on <>:*

- Information Architecture: Goals, Empathy, Projects & Brown Dirt.
Interview with Adam Polansky, by Lois Patterson |<>
- Classic: Working with a Technical Editor, by Jean Hollis Weber | <>
- TechWhirl Poll: Must Have Skills |<>

*Tech Comm News:*

- Tech Writer This Week for January 12, 2012 |<>
- 2012 MadCap Roadshow Schedule Announced |<>
- ProtoShare 6 Release Appeals to Technical Communicators with Enhanced
Collaboration | <>

What You’re Talking About

A quick *What you talkin’ ‘bout* to our Tech Writers and their discussions
in our email discussion group <>:

- Roger Goodman’s boss asked him for “Ideas for Help 2.0” that would be
“really kicka**.” Whirlers responded with lots of opinions on the impeding
demise of tri-pane help, the futility of most-popular answers, and a range
of server-based options that may or may not rank as “kicka**.” Kudos to
Jen Jobart who concisely described the tech comm dilemma. “As techwriters,
we're at a crossroads. We can either ignore the fact that that's
happening, or we can embrace it and realize that docs are now a multi-way
conversation, of which tech writers only have a single voice. Our job is
still to make the most of that voice, but it's also to facilitate the rest
of the conversations and make them more accessible to users.”
- Chris Morton is dealing with possible “FDA (b)anality” over the
wording of a caution statement in the documentation for his company’s
software solution. In many technical communications environments software
would not be considered a “device,” but experienced technical writers in
the FDA-regulated world have assured us that software, once loaded, becomes
a part of the device and advise Chris to comply with his compliance
officer’s request.
- Whirlers have provided a lot of advice and differing opinions to
Anonymous, who is challenged by “Staffing with unskilled workers.” It seems
to be a not uncommon scenario to be asked to train someone completely
outside the technical communications world to write and produce help
files. Sage advice from those who suggest documenting all aspects of the
situation, including the amount of time Anonymous must spend in training,
editing and rewriting tasks.

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:

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We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their
support. Make your own luck and buy their stuff.

*Platinum A*: Adobe Systems

*Platinum B: *ComponentOne
Madcap Software<>

*Gold*: Vancouver Island University <>, Society
for Technical Communication (STC) <>, EC

Online Magazine and Discussions for Today's Tech Writer

Follow TechWhirl on
Twitter: @TechWriterToday

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