TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for February 17, 2012

Subject: TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for February 17, 2012
From: INKtopia Admin <admin -at- inktopia -dot- net>
To: Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 13:48:38 -0500

This week’s update on technical communications and the TechWhirl community
is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & their Ultimate Communications
Suite, MadPak <> |
>From the Desk of the Editor

Back at the turn of the century, the TechWhirl discussion list was
embroiled in a vehement debate on content versus structure (called “structure
versus substance <>”)…
and I mean vehement. There were those on the SGML bandwagon (see, I told
you it was turn of the century) who believed nothing was more important
than structuring the content correctly. And then there were those of us
who wondered what the point of well-structured content was if it didn’t say
anything important, relevant or coherent. I remembered quite clearly trying
to argue that for technical communications, one can’t survive without the
other. At that time I was a content-first hothead, but I’ve always
understood that structure provides the context that allows meaning to be
conveyed. (Those outlining exercises from my third-grade teacher Mrs.
Beagen, and subsequent years of sentence diagramming did indeed pay off).

Now fast forward to 2012, and like so many of our technical communications
debates, the attributes have changed, but the core principle remains…
content and structure are intimately and forever entwined. This symbiotic
relationship was clarified for both Al and me over the weekend when we
reorganized the TechWhirl website with a new taxonomy. An 18-hour marathon
that resulted in a more usable and sustainable organization for the great
content being produced by the Special Writers
guest contributors and others in the field who comment here and on the list
with great insights.

Prior to Sunday’s marathon, we’d spent many hours in the realm of taxonomy
trying to determine the best way to organize our content to be findable.
Taxonomy is tough, but slogging through the process gave me a great
appreciation for the other structure-related tasks—like developing schemas
or DITA templates—that are required to produce useful, usable stuff for our
customers. We didn’t mess with design, and we sure didn’t mess with
content, but we hope you’ll find your way around a more
pleasurable and productive excursion.

While you’re sightseeing, stop for a moment and take a look at Jacquie
Samuels’ Tips and Tricks for Video
and take a break to laugh at another turn-of-the-century classic on the
unemployment fairy and
Lisa Higgins.

Video tutorials or the unemployment fairy not your true technical
communications love? That’s okay, slide over to our weekly poll and tell
us about your undying love for all things tech
our weekly poll. Because we know, like structure and content, the
we love have different outlooks and purpose, but they’re always bound
together with us.

Have a great weekend!

- The gang at TechWhirl

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

*New on <>**: *

- Classic Technical Writing Humor: The Unemployment Fairy and Karma, by
Lisa Higgins |
- Technical Writer Tips & Tricks: Video Tutorials, by Jacquie Samuels |
- TechWhirl Poll: Profess Your Love for All Things Tech Comm |

*Tech Comm News: *

- Tech Writer This Week: February 16, 2012 |
- Bluestream Releases XDocs v3.1 DITA-enabled Doc Solutions |
- Digital Media Provider Aptara Announces Acquisition by iEnergizer
Limited |
- Net-Translators Introduces Mini-Site Translation Package |
- STC-Montreal Members Vote to Sever Ties with Society for Technical
Communication |

Technical Communications: What You’re Talking About

A quick *shout out* to our Technical Writers and their discussions in our email
discussion group <>:

- Kevin McLaughlin struggles with conveying the correct meaning of
command-line syntax so he asked the list “How you say... ?” and included
three options. Whirlers responded with their knowledge of standards for
command-line syntax and recommendations to remove ambiguity.
- Mark Eichelberger is looking for opinions on a “Generic MS Windows
Support message” for his documentation, one that clearly indicates support
(or lack thereof) for OS versions. Whirlers focused on software
documentation responded with good alternatives on how or whether to include
service pack information, whether to list each OS version, and more. Julie
Stickler recommended surveying tech support and sales to find out if
customers or prospects ask for specific OS support.

*Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:*

- Our Google Plus Page – what’s happening behind the scenes |
- Will you be our Friend? Please, you know you want to click |
- Want all this TechWhirl goodness a few characters @ a time |
- Updates from TechWhirl delivered to your email in box |
- Or, try our RSS feed (great on Flipboard) |


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their

*Platinum*: Adobe Systems

*Gold: *ComponentOne
,* *Madcap Software<>

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

Online Magazine and Discussions for Today's Tech Writer

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