This paper reports on a project to develop a “work in preparation” editor, or PREP editor, to study co-authoring and commenting relationships. As part of the project, we have identified three issues in designing computer support for co-authoring and commenting: (1) support for social interaction among co-authors and commenters; (2) support for cognitive aspects of co-authoring and external commenting; and (3) support for practicality in both types of interaction. For each of these issues, the paper describes the approach the PREP editor takes to address them.
Nearly every ecommerce site revolves around a database to support inventory, listings and transactions. Building out the database can be a challenge. Here is what to expect.
In the summer of 2003, we worked on creating a general description of Drupal--an open source content management system (CMS)--for the "About Drupal" page on drupal.org. While Drupal is clearly within the class of applications known as content management systems, we felt that to describe it with that term alone would not present a clear picture of the breadth and range of Drupal's capabilities. Thus, the final description ended up describing Drupal with a total of four characteristics, although notably not distinct content management; weblog; discussion-based community software; and collaboration. Why is it then that the term CMS alone would not suffice? The word "content" places much emphasis on the product over process; it fails to emphasize the social use of CMSes, a mislabeling which places too much emphasis on the content itself at the expense of the communication and collaboration the better of these systems implement. In order to better understand how CMSes are being influenced by the precepts of social software and their role in creating social networks online, this presentation will: explore Drupal's social software features, narrate its genesis as software serving a community; and explain the influence of the community itself on Drupal development and the software's influence on the community that creates and uses it. In composing this text, we draw on the coauthors' unique perspectives. One of us is the founder and lead developer of Drupal, and the other a researcher in Computers and Writing and a participant in the Drupal community.
Although global computer networks have existed for many years, they have grown explosively only in the last few—particularly the one called the Internet. ARPANET, the forerunner of these network, was set up to aid communication between the government and people doing defense research in universities and industry. The network got a major boost in the late 1980s when the National Science Foundation created NSFNET, linking the five NSF supercomputer centers with networks at university campuses and the ARPANET. Continuing advances in reliability, speed, capacity, and ease of access have made the Internet an international medium for information exchange.
To these stakeholders, it seemed easier to change users’ behavior than to change the design of their notoriously problematic, difficult to modify, internal enterprise application—and actually solve its problems. The application’s design problems seemed so insurmountable to them that training looked like an attractive alternative to improving its user interface. Since the application’s users were employees of their company, it was easy for stakeholders to take the position that they’d just have to adapt. What’s the best way to respond to people who think training is a solution for usability problems?
We discuss our ethnographic research on personal social networks in the workplace, arguing that traditional institutional resources are being replaced by resources that workers mine from their own networks. Social networks are key sources of labor and information in a rapidly transforming economy characterized by less institutional stability and fewer reliable corporate resources. The personal social network is fast becoming the only sensible alternative to the traditional 'org chart' for many everyday transactions in today's economy.
Changes in software design and development are creating new opportunities for technical communicators at DDS. Writers have become an integral part of product teams, evaluated on their ability to help get products out the door. In some cases writers’ deliverables have themselves become full software development projects. As technical writers take on new roles they’re getting increased visibility, more interesting and varied work and a chance to move up ladders outside of the traditional technical writing group.
Discover creative solutions to inter-personal problems in the workplace using an iterative approach: observation of moment-to-moment interactions to assess the effectiveness of our responses. We will present six options for resolving conflicts, clarifying when and how to use each through case studies, work in small groups, and simulations.
An SME is someone who has been trained and has worked in the area that is being targeted for the new application. At Autodesk, we have found that pairing SMEs with Interaction Designers is the most efficient and successful way of meeting user centered design goals.
Manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales, customer contact – all of that is supremely manageable by a very small team. In the traditional model, you have this big corporation where the creative department is in the back, and they’re those wacky people with the Tabasco ties and chattering teeth in their cubicle, and everybody is a little afraid of them because they’re so “wild.” The rest of the company is the marketing, production, distribution, all of that. Well, our idea was that the little creative team could do everything.
Yes, today was the last day for us judges (for the STC Carolina Chapter competition) to have our evaluation forms submitted. I got my forms in just in time and our team leader is probably glad that’s over with. I’m done with judging.
This article explores the implications of choosing to work as a cog in the field of technical communication. The author includes perspectives from cog-colleagues and manager/cogs, and touches on concepts of ownership, recognition, and egoless communication. She recommends exercises in discipline-specific poetry and editing in a workshop setting as practical ways to work toward detachment.
Using activity theory as a supplement to genre studies, this article explores a case of the disintegration of a traditional engineering firm. It focuses on the causes of such disintegration and the role of different types of communication in serving as sites where contradictions can be brought to visibility and resolution. The authors' goal is both to show the power of activity theory in illuminating issues of tension, contradiction, and dissonance that lead to the breakup of the original organization into two separate firms and point to fundamental differences in the cultures of traditional engineering firms and software design enterprises.
If you have ever been forced to deal with business types who have no technical know-how, then you know how these types can work against IT's progress. Here's how to improve your business/IT communication by concentrating on the strategic goals.
As technical communicators, we need to reach out and 'keep in touch' with customers if we want to provide truly user-friendly documentation. If we include our customers in the document development process, and convince them that they are an integral part of that process, we increase customer satisfaction. In this panel, writers will discuss practical, step-by-step approaches they use to gather customer comments.
It is a helpful exercise to develop a tagline for yourself, in the same way that professionals in a previous generation were encouraged to develop a mission statement. With shortening attention spans, today's professional needs only a few-word tagline to fit in the sound bite of management's smaller time slots.
Software developers spend a large part of their time communicating with each other. Clear and effective technical communications are needed to keep the team in synch and to allow individuals with key knowledge to apply that knowledge where it is needed. One tenet of the open source community is that techincal communications should take place in public forums. Mailing lists are the backbone of open source communications. Beyond that, open source projects need support for precisely communicating technical details and for group decision-making.
During project-based work, every freelancer, agency, or internal department has “the kickoff meeting.” In theory, this meeting should have all the energy, excitement, and potential of the opening salvo of the Superbowl. Project team members should be inspired coming out of that meeting, full of ideas, and a desire to begin exploring solutions. Agencies and freelancers should begin to see their clients as friends and collaborators with unique insights that can only come from frank, open discussion of the design challenge at hand. But this rarely happens.
The mettle of a leader is tested by adversity; history lauds those leaders who take on the odds and win. But savvy leaders are those who also know when to say no. Unfortunately, we brand folks like that as quitters, when it may be more correct to say they have the guts to know when they're licked.
This paper represents over 30 years cumulative work experience, as both corporate staff members and as consultants, and shares recommendations for providing highly valuable editorial contributions. The authors also introduce a new concept for innovative editorial methods that meet the technological and productivity challenges facing today’s information design organizations.
Knowledge management is a thick web of themes from a variety of professional disciplines. The field is populated with people who resonate with the ideas first articulated by Larry Prusak and Tom Davenport, Tom Stewart, Carla O'Dell and others. "Getting the right information to the right people at the right time." Isn't that what information architecture and the information sciences are all about? "Leveraging the intellectual capital of the organization." Isn't that HR turf? "Harvest and refine reusable intellectual artifacts." Hello? Are there any technical writers out there? "It's about connecting people with people and supporting them with technology." Does anybody know that research in computer-supported cooperative work began in 1984?
A little introspection and a rewind of sequences from my years of experience as a technical writer, revealed a patterned behavior in most developers. The basic fact that some developers have no idea about what inputs to give and what to expect of a user document is the primary cause of such inputs.
Technical support relies heavily on users' abilities to perform tasks, and we're all more than familiar with the difficulty involved with assisting inexperienced computer users. Most widespread worms and viruses take hold and spread due to poorly maintained systems, commonly home systems found on broadband networks.
There are useful parallels between making films and making web sites or software products. We'd be wise to study how they manage creativity, and how our divisions of effort, and means of collaberation, compare and contrast.