This column presents overviews of new technologies that may affect technical communicators in the near future.
View-oriented group communication is an important and widely used building block for many distributed applications. Much current research has been dedicated to specifying the semantics and services of view-oriented Group Communication Systems (GCSs). However, the guarantees of different GCSs are formulated using varying terminologies and modeling techniques, and the specifications vary in their rigor. This makes it difficult to analyze and compare the different systems.
We've had social software for 40 years at most, dated from the Plato BBS system, and we've only had 10 years or so of widespread availability, so we're just finding out what works. We're still learning how to make these kinds of things.
This handbook prepares students to lead small discussion groups in large lecture classes. Instructors may also want to access the Group Leader Training Materials, which provide an overview of training new group leaders.
Nobody would deny that usability guidelines, applied in context by a usability professional, are extremely valuable in guiding a website evaluation. The problem occurs when non-professionals apply these guidelines out of context. This can result in an unimaginative site that looks bland and homogenous. To design usable sites that truly engage customers we need to replace simple guidelines with a customer-centred design process.
This article puts forth a simple process that you can utilize for conducting effective and efficient meetings (where you work in a framework that aims at accomplishing the goal of the meeting and time is well utilized) at your organization.
We have discussed the advantages of attacking tough situations not all at once but in four phases: (1) minimal immediate response, aimed at buying time; (2) realistic preparation based on a complete scenario; (3) problem-solving discussion focused on reaching an agreement; and (4) follow-through to ensure that agreements are carried out. The main argument for this approach is simple: to be persuasive, you need good arguments; when you are surprised and upset, you can't think of your best arguments; therefore, whenever possible, give yourself time to calm down, think, and prepare properly.
We discussed how to buy time when you are assaulted by an unpleasant surprise. Our argument was that few people respond well to challenging situations unless they have some time to prepare. Therefore, whenever you can, you should divide the task into four distinct phases: (1) minimal immediate response, (2) preparation, (3) problem-solving discussion, and (4) follow-through. Unfortunately, some situations don't let you postpone a full discussion. For such cases, you need the 'short method,' which condenses phases 1-3.
Explains how a leading global law firm manages its market and client research. Outlines the firm's divisions, business activities and client base. Explains in detail how the firm uses business research, covering use of market intelligence on the business issues that an individual client faces, and the gathering of intelligence about the client, to disclose the nature and extent of the firm's ambitions to advise the organization concerned. Discusses the staffing of a law firm's business research capability, pointing out that not only staff expertise but also confidentiality concerns mean that it is not always efficient for lawyers to access internal and external information sources directly. Suggests that defining the minimum business research necessary improves the usefulness of the information delivered and saves the firm time -- and that removing the uncertainty about what is required improves job satisfaction as well.
A causal-analysis session is a problem-solving method that brings groups of people together to jointly solve common problems and make process changes. This method ensures that everyone who will be affected by a process change has the opportunity to provide input and agree to the solution. In large departments, reaching group consensus is a challenge. This paper presents our department's implementation of the causal-analysis method.
Will cyberspace fulfill our dreams of creating a new work environment where not only women but men can choose to work remotely at home, rocking babies with one hand while pushing pixels with the other? There are no easy answers.
James’ teaching style is clear, and approachable and in just under three hours of training viewers get a complete overview of what to expect when expecting to become a Web designer. He keeps the concepts simple and uncluttered, and encourages people to mimic that approach in their designs. While this training course doesn’t necessarily teach the step-by-steps of how to build an entire hand-coded site with drop down navigation and fancy rollovers, think of it as the Lonely Planet guide for Web design.
Have you ever received a review comment that totally ticked you off? Perhaps a sarcastic comment with no practical suggestion for improving the content? Maybe even one that questioned your abilities as a writer and the value of your contribution to the product? The dangerous thing about being a writer is that you're well equipped for unleashing scathing replies. If your buttons have been pushed, chances are your retaliation will bite deep and leave no room for misinterpretation. After all, you sling words for a living, right? Like the hands of Kwai Chang Caine, your words are deadly weapons. Hold that thought.
Want to know the secret to better quality documentation and improved software design? Will Kelly outlines how the key is an effective relationship between project managers and technical writers.
At the time I’m writing this column, it’s that “happy” time in the United States between the Thanksgiving holiday in late November (the fourth Thursday of the month) and the impending Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Well, the “happy” part is debatable, as this period has become characterized by the absolute chaos of shopping, the challenges of winter travel and the “holiday crunch” in the workplace to complete as much as possible before most everyone disappears for a week or two.
Have you ever seen really good improv? Did you walk out of the experience willing to swear that the actors had rehearsed it ahead of time or it was some kind of magic? I’ll let you in on an actor’s secret: chances are the work was neither rehearsed nor magic! What’s more likely is that the group performing the improv was a true ensemble of actors who had trained and practiced the principles of improv and were accustomed to working together. When it comes to knowing how to achieve innovative design, you may be just as mystified as you were watching that improv. Everywhere around us today, we feel the desire and drive to build innovative products and find creative solutions to design problems. I’m sure you have, at times, thought those were impossible goals to achieve. But if we take some lessons from the practice of theatrical improvisation, we’ll discover it isn’t really that hard at all.
A void exists in our social skill set that leaves us incapable of successfully resolving the conflicts we face in our personal and professional lives. Conflict and dispute resolution is a skill we all must learn. Practitioners need to assist clients to reach beyond just settling their current conflict. We should include the skill building, coaching and support necessary for disputants to make the paradigm shift from disputing parties to conflict resolution advocates with a positive perspective on conflict and its resolution.
"I'm going away on vacation now. Will you please get this thing localized while I'm gone?" Do you recognize this scenario? Two minutes before your own vacation starts, one of your key clients kicks off the localization of a software suite into 14 languages for what he claims is his company's most important release ever. One minute before your vacation, you receive a poorly prepared file hand-off kit comprising software for translation, documentation, help systems, marketing material, etc. To top it off, your client contact forgot to appoint a replacement contact during his vacation - so you're on your own.
Even a newspaper like The Times, with layers of editing to ensure accuracy, can go off the rails when communication is poor, individuals do not bear down hard enough, and they make assumptions about what others have done.
In recent months, as part of my doctoral research, I have been interviewing technical communicators, users and developers of information systems to try and find out if in fact the work of a technical communicator is of value to those developing and using information systems. The interviews demonstrated clearly that technical communicators do add value. This was further confirmed in Paris where I discussed my work with technical communicators at the Comtec '97 conference. The following discussion encapsulates some of the comments from participants at Comtec '97 and the interviews I conducted.
A CEO is enamored with technology but doesn't understand the issues involved in implementing his time- and money-hungry IT ideas. What would you do to solve this problem?
Adult bullying at work is a shocking, terrifying, and at times shattering experience. What's more, bullying appears to be quite common, as one in ten U.S. workers report feeling bullied at work, and one in four report working in extremely hostile environments. Workplace bullying is repetitive, enduring abuse that escalates over time and results in serious harm to those targeted, to witnessing coworkers, and to the organizations that allow it to persist. Bullying runs the gamut of hostile communication and behavior and can consist of excluding and ignoring certain workers, throwing things and destroying work, public humiliation and embarrassment, screaming and swearing, and occasionally even physical assault. What makes workplace bullying so harmful is its persistent nature. Exposed workers report that bullying goes on and on, lasting for months and--in many cases--even years.