Category Archives: Conferences

STC Conference Notes from Wednesday May 21th

Here are my notes from Wednesday

8:30-9:15 Creating Help Systems for the Modern User – Kevin Siegel Founder of Iconlogic Kevin has been creating help systems for 15 to 20 years.  This session is about help systems that are successful and not successful.  He is big on Captivate.  It was a good session and very well attended.

  • This session will cover
    • attention span
    • no scrolling
    • engage your user
    • planning a
    • outputting
  • Most people will not scroll to get through your content.  They will give up and go to another topic.
  • Graphics are ok but videos are better in your content
  • Videos should be links and not embedded in topics.  This will reduce the scrolling.
  • Kevin is using a button that opens a menu with links as an example.  This reduces the clutter on the screen.  In testing 90% of people felt more comfortable seeing a menu rather than a dialog.
  • Short and sweet videos is key
  • Videos should have length of time so the user has a good idea of commitment
  • 15 seconds is home long you have before your average user starts to lose interest.
  • Google glass and heads up display ( HUD) are both examples of very small displays for content
  • e-ink is another small format display
  • More and more people are accessing content on a mobile device.
  • In testing an overwhelming number of people want demo videos and not interactive videos.
  • Remember to add alt text  to graphics and videos for accessibility.

He ended with a RoboHelp demo.

9:45-10:30 Beyond the Bleeding Edge – Neil Perlin This session was pretty good to just listen to.  This is a case study of a guy that needs to get his content from Framemaker to a Salesforce knowledgebase.  He wanted to populate the knowledgebase with his content to help out the support people.  When they get a call from a customer they can see if the solution exists in the documentation before they write a new solution.  He mentioned the support people have access to help but they never really look at help and he was hoping to get his help content a little more in the face of the support staff.   There is no easy way to populate the knowledgebase in this way his so he had to come up with this work around. I’ll get the link to the slides.  He had to use a list of tools to make this happen.  The process he came up with is very convoluted.  If anything is off or wrong along the way it will not work.  Lots of prep needs to happen to the Framemaker files before you can start the process. One of the many problems I can see is that you now have split the source and you have two streams of content to maintain.  So if you have an update or issue in the Frame docs you need to make the change in two places or run the process over again.

11:00-11:20 Applying Learn Principles to the Documentation – Alan Houser

This was a nice presentation. Lots of people and lots of good info. Alan does a good job with his presentations.

  • What is lean
    • maximize customer value
    • minimum waste
  • Big ideas
    • build/measure/learn
    • get out of the build talk to the customers
    • min viable product
    • pivot being able to change direction if needed.
  • What we tend to care about
    • deliverables
    • schedule
    • tool
    • origination structure
    • office  politics
    • legacy for formats
  • The customer only cares about getting the information they need and getting the issue resolved so they can get back to work.  Help cannot stand in the way of this.

This is not the time for “We’ve always done it that way” thinking

  • How/When does your team pivot
    • Budget cuts
    • Re-org
    • Reduction in force

Try to be in front of this and pivot before these happens.

  • What do we measure
    • Number is pages
    • Number of topics
    • Words/topic
    • Word count
    • And so on

Customers don’t care about any of that.

  • At the end of the day nothing is better than getting closer to your customer
  • Documentation Waste is if it does not provide customer value then it needs to be removed
  • Let it go!  The fancy formatting and perfect page layout means nothing if the customer does not get the information they need
  • Make sure you always ask ‘how is this providing value to the customer’

Recommended books

  • Lean Thinking
  • The Lean Startup
  • Lean UX
  • Running Lean

11:35-11:55 The Creative Habit – Kelsey Ruger This session started early and I missed the very beginning.  It was a great session with good slides. Because it was a short session and the speaker was so engaging it was best to just sit and listen.  Not much of an opportunity for notes. Search around and see if you can find his slides.

12:10-12:30 The Cracker Jack Theory of User Assistance – Ray Gallon  This was another good session and the last session of the day.  It was very well attended and the speaker was great.  Lots of knowledge.

  • Building cognitive demand.  How do we do that in UA?

He used ‘How do you use the camera’ as an example

  • How do I take a good photo what does that mean start using the camera
  • Hands on practice
  • Implicit and factual comprehension
  • Embed concept material in tasks

What is Mastery

  • He talked about what he called the ‘Cognitive Spiral’
  • Learning is a spiral that represents a time of opportunity and time to practice
  • From starting out as a beginner to becoming a master user
    • Retrieve explicit information
    • Interpret explicit information
    • Apply and use the information
    • Reflect on and evaluate the content.  This is where the users can be a big help to us with real feedback
    • Reflect on and evaluate the form of the message
  • These are really expert users
  • He defined Good UA as:
    • Give people the tools to get themselves out of trouble
    • Appeal to emotions and self-satisfaction
    • Crowd source the pain points.  Get the info from the user
    • Collect and analyze failure because if you don’t the social world will.  He used Dell computer as an example
    • Remember that failure is a learning experience.  Fail early and fail often
  • FAQ are solutions in search of a problem.
  • Let’s not insult our users by documenting very basic tasks.

STC Conference Notes from Tuesday May 20th

Here are my notes from Tuesday.

8:30-9:15 Designing Effective User Interface Content – Karen Scipi and Georgia Price Both Karen and Georgia are Language designers(?) for Oracle.   They work with SWD and UX designers to come up with the proper terms and phrases for various products at Oracle.  They talked a lot about being a Language Designer but I’m still not sure what that is. This session was pretty well attended.  The presentation and the slides were good.

  • Good UI will focus on all 3 design aspects, content.
  • Best UI text is clear, short and meaningful.
  • Identify what we can do in the SWD phase
  • Choose precise words and not specialized terms
  • Maintaining terms is very important for consistent messaging and helps to keep translation costs down.
  • Keeps voice and tone consistent.
  • Enables SEO
  • Language, voice and tone must be accurate.
  • Example – Error message, state the error and then the resolution.

9:45-10:30 Content Authoring for Responsive Design – Mike Hamilton Mike is a physics geek.  He worked for a nuclear power plant for several years working on process docs before he decided that it was not for him.  He went to work for BlueSky software after that and is currently working for MadCap.  This was a good presentation.  Lots of good information.

  • Responsive design is a design concept to address stress points, now known as break points in a browser.
  • Ethan Marcotte wrote a white paper on it
  • Responsive Design is not:
    • Making content size smaller to fit the smaller device.
    • Removing content to fit the smaller device
    • A separate version of the same content or every device.
  • Responsive Design is:
    • A single version of the content that formats correctly for all devices, phones, tablets, laptops, and larger screens.
  • The design principles are much more forgiving with Responsive Design, a much looser design is used.
  • The three key areas for Responsive Design are:
    • Document structure
    • CSS3
    • Media Queries
  • In RD less is more, don’t get too fancy at the authoring phase.
  • Hidden tables are bad,  fix size div’s fixed size images, all bad.  No inline formatting.
  • All of the style is done externally via CSS.
  • Couple examples of media queries:
    • @media screen for screen viewing
    • @media print for printing a page

He has some code examples that are simple but pretty good.  I need to get the slides.

  • Media queries can test for screen width/height, screen orientation landscape/portrait, aspect ratio, resolution and a few others.
  • Media queries works best with Chrome, firefox and safari.  Not so well with older versions of IE
  • Focus on content areas and purpose.  Don’t get caught up in the design for the page.
  • Control grid elements using CSS.
  • There are over 31 different device resolutions.  Chasing devices is hard to do.
  • Easier is to determine the min and max that you want to support.  With these end points in mind resize your browser and watch what happens, when things start to get ugly that will determine your first break point.  Continue resizing your browser until it gets ugly again.  That will be your second break point or the break point for a cell phone.
  • Graphics are harder to deal with then text
  • Larger graphics need to be split up in to smaller individual graphics and controlled with CSS.
  • Google search on responsive design.  Lots of information out there
  • To implement this is a pretty big effort.  Not something that can be done quickly.
  • DIV element is used a lot in Responsive Design

Small code sample:

div.rdoverflow {

overflow: auto; (if the content does not fit you will get horizontal scrollbar. )


1:00-1:45 Structured Authoring Meets Responsive Design – Mark Giffin Mark is a tech writer and picked up programming along the way.  DITA is a specialty of his. Not very well attended and only a small amount of information.

  • Structured authoring has been around for a long time and is being talked about more and more along with Responsive Design
  • Structured authoring and responsive can be a powerful combination.
  • Modern age of documentation is a mess.
  • Lots of ways to author
  • Lots of ways to publish
  • Lots of devices to service.
  • Content must be structured to be able to take advantage of Responsive Design

2:15-3:00 Basic Accessibility Tools and Techniques – Joseph O’Conner works for Knowbility Joseph was a fill in for Sharron Rush who was supposed to give the presentation.   He talked a lot about screen readers. I was hoping to get more information on color standards but the entire presentation was around screen readers.

His website is

  • Need to have a solid standard to test by, this includes all of the different browsers
  • WCAG 2.0 level AA Is a testing standard.
  • Test are all done in several different browsers, Chrome, FireFox, Safari
  • Use color checker for color contrast issues

  • Heading levels are important to people using a screen reader.
  • 70% of blind population is unemployed.
  • Enterprise tools will only test about 30% of all of the accessibility testing points
  • Document your findings
  • P.O.U.R
    • Perceivable
    • Operable
    • Understandable
    • Robust
  • Make sure you don’t have a dependency on color – ‘Click the red button’ for example
  • Testing should be a part of the overall TD or QA functions.
  • Look at for a list of accessibility tools

He finished his presentation with a couple of demos of various screen readers.

4:15-5:00 DITA is a Writers Best Friend – Ted Kuster Ted has worked at Salesforce for a couple of years. He has been a tech writer for about 15 years.  This was a good presentation.  Pretty short and basic content but the presentation was good.

  • DITA is an XML framework for technical documentation
  • DITA supports good writing practice
  • DITA is designed for writers
  • Saves you time
  • DITA and XML does not have a steep learning curve.
  • Ted feels he is a better writer now with DITA
  • Why DITA
    • ROI – Managers
    • Production – Engineers
    • Authoring – Writers
  • Writers do 3 things
    • Distill information
    • Assemble information
    • and deliver the information
  • Using the <shortdesc> tag consistently in every topic gave much better search results for Salesforce content.
  • 75% of what Salesforce does is instructional content
  • write a <shotrdesc> for every topic
  • use titles and <shotrdesc> in maps to boost search results

STC Conference Notes from Monday May 19th

Hi All,

My name is Allen and I work for Autodesk in San Francisco. I attended the STC Conference held in Phoenix AZ May 18th – 21st. It was a great conference with lots of good information. I thought I’d share my notes from the sessions I attended.

Monday May 19th 8:30-9:15 Content Designed for your Audience– Laura Creekmore This was a very good session.  Laura was a good speaker with a lot of good information.

  • Don’t let people get away with making changes to the content based on gut feeling.
  • Talking to your users is the biggest and best thing you can do.  You must know your user.

From here she had an interesting set of slides where she was showing how we have gone away from really knowing our customers/users back in the late 1800’s to today.  How we went from a general store where the store owner knew everyone that came in on a personal bases and could give them that same personal service.  To the first self-serve grocery store, to today where we can by things online and never have to talk to anyone. The companies that do the best with this are the large companies that spent the time up front to really know there customer.

  • We like to measure what’s easy.  Facebook likes, traffic data, YouTube view and comments and so on.
  • Web analytics tell you what, but what we really want to know is why.  Imperfect measure that only tells so much.
  • Use personas from UX data.  You need to use research to gather persona data.  You can’t just sit down and write a persona.  It will be as bad as not knowing anything if you don’t take the information from the user.
  • The best thing is to just get out and talk to your customers.
  • Be careful of putting too much weight behind surveys.  It’s too easy to write a survey with leading questions.
  • Focus groups are not a good way to come up with new ideas.  Hard to keep a focus group focused.
  • Sales and marketing data is sometimes very useful.
  • Product content needs to come from usability and analytics.
  • What is the actual content business goal.  You need to serve the business needs.  If the content is just in the way and is not serving a purpose, get rid of it.
  • Short quick sentences.
  • Every day we use phrases that are customers don’t understand.  Need to get the search data so we can see what the users are typing in to search.
  • An interesting test is to remove every 5th or 6th word and see if the user can fill in the blanks.  If the user can fill in over 60% of the blanks the content is pretty easy to reads.

Book Recommendations:

  • The user is always right – Good detail on how to write personas
  • Letting go of the words – Another great book for personas.
  • Content strategy at work
  • Interviewing users
  • Search and analytics
  • How to measure anything

Website Recommendations:

  • Reading level tests  Can copy content in and it will tell you what grade level you are writing to.
  • The Audience you didn’t know you had. (I need to get the links from the slides.)

9:45-10:30 Targeting Documentation to Your Users Goals – Alyssa Fox The slides were great for this presentation.  I need to get the link when they are posted.  This was another good presentation that was well attended.

  • UX and content go hand in hand.  If UX is bad the content will suffer and not be as good as it should be.
  • Need to really understand the user.  (This is a theme I’m seeing)
  • We really need to push back on SWD about bad UI.  We know UI is bad but just tell them how to use It in the docs.
  • Shrinking headcount means you really need to prioritize what we can get done.
  • Documentation must have context.
  • Traditional was to document everything.  Targeted documentation requires a solid knowledge of your user.
  • For targeted documentation only provide content for what’s really needed or required.  If it is a basic element in the UI like name, address and so on it does not require documentation.  Big picture tasks only.
  • Documentation based on persona is better than documenting only the UI.  From the UI you will only document the product and not how it will help the user or how the user uses your product.
  • Adding FAQ’s or troubling shooting topics are a big help.
  • Don’t waste your time documenting intuitive UI.
  • Start with the minimum information your users need.  Assume the user has some amount of knowledge.
  • Keep in mind that you are not the user.  You don’t use the product like the user does.

Book Recommendations:

  • Usability testing is key rocket surgery made easy – book for testing.

1:00-1:45 Key Trends in Mobile Publishing – Vikram Verma   Vikram works for Adobe as a product manager and was really pushing Adobe products. Had a small number of people in attendance.

  • Sense the iPhone everything has changed for the mobile device.
  • 1 out of every 6 people has a smart phone.  In Europe it is more than 50% of people
  • Late 2013 more people are getting content from a smart phone then on a laptop
  • HTML5 is the most dominant publishing output
  • For mobile use bigger buttons and remember needs to be designed for touch and not mouse input.
  • Design for responsive html.  When the device changes the page should change as well.
  • Users will abandon your content if it is not displayed correctly on a mobile device.
  • Consider a m. url for mobile docs
  • Consider creating a mobile app for your content
  • RESS (Responsive Server Side) is a hybrid of Responsive design and server side components.
  • RESS only has one domain.
  • But optimizing for mobile users with an app is the best way to go about it.  Issues are you have to manage two source content.  Updating app can be a challenge to keep up to date.
  • SEO is best when used with a domain or website.  Getting information on your user is easier with a website.

2:15-3:00 Delivering Technical Content to Mobile Devices – Matt Sullivan  Is an independent contractor that works for Adobe. He is using Framemaker and RoboHelp.

  • Content must be granular and structured for a mobile device.
  • Must establish the user needs first.  Then the tools to use will become more obvious.
  • Responsive output.
  • Responsive content gets placed higher when searched from a mobile device then none responsive.

3:30-4:15 What do Viewers of Video Really Want? – Matthew Pierce   This was a great presentation.  Good attendance and good information. He is with TechSmith and is working on , Camtasia, SnagIt and so on.  He is an industrial designer.  Then he moved in to a management role working with the training department then Tech Support.  Now he is running the video team.  (They have a good video library)

  • He thinks of video from a tech marketing position and learning.
  • It’s important to look at your audience for video.  Do your own research.
  • He feels video will be more accessible for people to consume and easier for people to create.
  • He surveyed 1900 people about videos.  Asked to send videos they thought were really good with more of a focus on Information and instructional.
  • Half of the videos from the survey were videos of entertainment.  Other half were Information and instructional.
  • Of the 1900 people they had a really good cross section of age groups from 15 to 75+
  • He feels video views will be increasing.  (But to me he is only looking at it from a delivery point of view and not from a user point of view.  Did not really get in to how useful videos are just that more people are watching them.)
  • Information and instructional videos are watched in the morning and in the evening when they get home mostly on their own time.
  • Length of video depends on type.  Their research is showing that longer videos are ok if the content is high quality and it keeps the user attention.  This is a length of 3 to 5 mins.
  • Video is an investment in time.  High cognitive load.
  • 82% of people will stop a video if it is not of interest to them.  (He feels this is really 100%)
  • People stop watching because, not the expected information, had other things to do, wrong topic, bored and bad content, bad audio.
  • Can’t skim videos like you can text, hard to scrub, can’t search on a specific section of the video.
  • Audio is just as important.  Good clear voice, good tone.  You can move pretty quick through a video as long as the content is clear and you are not trying to give the user too much information.
  • Things that make for great video attributes.  Trusted Brand, Callout text or closed caption, video with speakers for introduction, Music.  Music may not be appropriate for Information and instructional
  • People like things that move, intros and outros, allow comments in your videos.  YouTube is good for this.
  • Quality of video for Information and instructional means a lot.  People will just turn it off if it is not a good quality video.
  • Engagement starts with good story and script, good models, good video quality.

NOTES: Intelligent Content Conference Feb. 27th and 28th, 2014

Breaking down barriers was the theme of this year’s conference.

Some of these presentations (and others I did not attend) are available on Search for ICC2014.

These are my notes. All mistakes are mine. Please direct corrections to Mike Ziegenhagen at

Keynote, Joe Pulizzi, Evolution of Content Marketing

His new book, Epic Content Marketing, was created using crowd sourcing.

Problem/statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
90 percent of companies doing content marketing, only 40 percent think it is effective No strategy for content• Good Example: Homemade Simple web site by Proctor and Gamble, mult lang since 2003. Mission Statement: Enabling women to have more quality time with their families• Bad example:Man of the Mission Statement: Helping men become better men

They killed the site after 18 months!

  • Sweet spot is overlap of what you know and what your prospects care about
  • Content Marketers are in charge of the why. Content Strategists in charge of the how. Together they do who, what, and where
  • Five years from now Chief Marketing Officers will spend more on IT than Chief Information Officers
CMO of company did not know why they were on Facebook Must know goalKey is sales, savings, sunshine (SSS) to make happy customers

  • Sunshine Example: The Furrow by John Deere
  • Goal, keep customers, get them to buy more


  • Ask marketers why
  • Sell Intelligent Content based on SSS
  • Understand the new paradigm in marketing. Owned audiences are the key.

Session 1: DITA CMS. From your Experts to your Customers

Jean-Francois Ameye, Solutions Architect

Problem/statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Old workflow, write, review, revise, publish worked for one output. Need multiple outputs now Docs need to be modular, reusable, delivered in diff outputs, updated often
  • Core is writer, then SME, internal users, customer/partners in concentric rings
  • DITA/CMS solution, Eclipse UI in center, then web author, web reviewer, then interactive help portal

Session 2: The journey from intelligent content to business value

Dave Wieneke at Useful Arts

Problem/statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
  • The journey from intelligent content to business value needs CMS
  • Data is not meaning or causality
  • CMS is made of people like Soylent green
  • CMS is something we do, not something we buy
  • Easier to focus on tools and spend resources than focus on strategy
  • Strategy focuses on growth, which is controlled by customers
  • Poor click throughs on web site
  • Noun based content does not engage user
  • Verb based content has better click through rate
  • Pictures of content authors on web page also help

Session 3: Using Taxonomy for Customer Centric Publishing

Joe Gelb

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Multiple silos on Support web site not good, ex docs, training, support, KB, communities
  • Each team does it differently, tools and processes
  • One size does not fit all
  • Not all managers are great
  • Must join the silos to find value
  • Easy, single point of entry for accessing content. For consumers, creators, now and in the future, taxonomy is the glue that holds it all together
  • Taxonomy and classification, build knowledge model of domain. Apply it to your content
Metadata, problems, lives in proprietary format.
  • Must have access to system.
  • Limited number of elements
  • Difficult to relate to other contexts or relationships
  • Constant updates needed for elements
  • We may not know how product used now or in future
  • Classification maintained separately from content, so SMEs can classify content, does not require you to own project
    • Ex, library is set of info in various media classified by subject matter. Library with many branches equals silos
    • Ex stack overflow has tags to classify
  • Variety, context filtering, personalized docs, audience participation using tags, modern user experience. Similar to buying camera on Amazon. Results can be sorted into docs, videos, download or read online. Render to any format or device.
  • Taxonomy and classification, build knowledge model of domain. Apply it to your content.
  • One portal with all info using tags to find it. Allow users to tag it also.

Session 4: Personalization, Omnichannel, and Content Stategy, these three are one

Kevin Nichols, Sapient Nitro

Author, Enterprise Content Management book, out later this year.

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Each channel of communication is treated as separate entity but users engage multiple channels for information.Example, a user watching TV and using their iPad is dual channel user Different authors/division create content
  • We live in an always on world
  • Singular channel engagement is dead
  • Who and for whom? User centric
  • What are they doing? User journey, tasks
  • Performance driven. Omni requires evaluation, which drives future decisions, and content priority. Larger screens means longer engagement times
  • Start with roadmap and strategy. Goals and objectives. Need user tasks and bus needs. Tweak over time, measure and change
  • Foundation, Evolution, Enrichment. Look at your users and keep updating
  • Define your channels, build around Customer engagement
  • List of Customer needs and then tasks. Develop content to optimize needs
  • Design extensible systems with adaptable output ex long and short product descriptions
  • Design solution based on screen size. Adaptive approach

Session 5: How Workflow Metrics Change for Intelligent Content

Shawn Prenslow, the reluctant strategist.

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Intelligent Content, which is structurally rich, semantically structured. Content tagged with meaningful tags takes effort, work. There is a cost to changes
  • Intelligent Content efficiencies do not happen in a vacuum, reuse takes training
  • Costs for planning, authoring, publishing
  • Metrics are critical for planning
  • Workflow Metircs include resource planning, budgets, timeframes, reasonable commitments, Establish goals, ROI, communicate to C level management
  • You don’t have to boil the ocean right now
Hard to measure what is most valuable
  • Critical metrics include track and confirm, remeasure periodicals, planning
  • Make baseline using current tools ex Word
You can’t manage what you can’t measure
  • In any period of change, there is a period of chaos, need new baseline
  • Simplify work flow
  • Design, plan, author and review, localization, production and delivery
  • Planning time much higher, for non-recurring task. Ex, taxonomy development, hierarchy planning, training, tagging process
  • Also see, DITA metrics 101 book by Mark Lewis relative scales of information and how to measure

Session 6: WikiProject Medicine: Breaking down barriers to save lives

Val Swisher, Founder of Content Rules. Partnering with Doctors without Borders for this initiative.

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Problem, every day tens of thousands of people die for lack of low cost interventions
  • Lack of medical information in the user’s own language
  • Traditional cures at odds with modern medicine. Ex diarrhea in Nigeria in English, Traditional cure is to withhold water!
  • Goal is to translate top 100 medical articles into 100 languages using medical students to improve the quality of the article, tech writers to put it into Simplified Technical English, translators to translate it
Poor access to information
  • 8 of 10 caregivers do not know the symptoms of pneumonia
  • More than 60 percent of people in Africa say they could have saved a family member if they had access to medical knowledge
  • Imagine a world where a person has access to all medical knowledge in their own language
High costs of Internet access in developing countries, even for cell phones.
  • Limited number of providers, high costs relative to income
  • Wikipedia access for free is the goal. See the Wikipedia Zero page
Volunteers/donations needed.
  • Val has 31 writer volunteers so far, she needs more.

Session 7: CS on the Digital Frontier: Why technology and humanity must work together.

Barry Slaughter Olsen, profession of written and spoken languages.

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Everything driving our economy is digital, so it can be disrupted eventually. Ex, Facebook, was “passing fad” Customers fall into three categories:

  • High Touch: Important or needy customers. Ex. Human translator for politicians
  • Low Touch: Customer figures things out on their own using your resources
  • No Touch. Customer solves problem without using your resources
  • Fail quickly without spending lots of money
  • “We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.” John M. Culkin
  • Remember the human element of 21st century communication
  • Explore new models and platforms
  • Carve out time in your schedule to experiment and learn
  • Think how tech with good content can float cross language communication in new ways
  • Act on the ideas today. Start small. Share with team that shares your vision

Session 8: Build your digital brand, how to win the battle for attention

Loni Stark, Adobe

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Three keys things are changing how business thinks. 1. Attention is scarce, focus on capturing sustained attention.2. Average online spending per consumer is increasing.3. Location is not everything. Location of customer and context is everything.
  • Be useful, be the answer to a Customer problem everyday.
  • Be different, reinforce brand and extend it.
  • Be convenient, design for your laziest customer.

Session 9: Dynamic publishing of Sports Results for Olymic and ParaOlympic Games

Claudia Wunder

Watch YouTube video about London 2012

ODF documentation. See

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
How does Olympic Data Feed work? “Central” is technology operations center
  • XML is defacto standard for messaging. It’s fast, easy to change data, separates data from format, which supports multiple outputs
How is evolving over time? Seven feeds in China and Vancouver games down to one single feed in Soshi
  • What made change possible?
    • Business Rules
    • Coding System
    • Olympic Data Feed documentation, which is new
    • Header values
    • Screen descriptors for commentator system and intranet.

Session 10: Content Strategy for Augmented Reality and Google Glass

Marta Rauch, Oracle

Slide share

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Augmented reality presents new challenges for tech writers
  • AR replacing manuals ex Audi app instead of owner’s manual
  • Simplified visual UI and limited screen real estate
  • Natural speech recognition for common tasks. Ex Say “Shop”with Amazon app
  • Voice recognition with the Internet of things, ex Talk to your car or set your home thermostat
  • Visual overlays of info on top of real time view helps car mechanics, surgeons, printer set up guides, games, real time translations, travel info, even enterprise software
Tips for content for wearable tech. Be:

  • Useful ex Tesla
  • Timely, ex weather app for bad weather
  • Unobtrusive, can read later
  • Relevant ex meeting reminder
  • Concise
  • Strait forward, tone is friendly, relaxed.
  • Visual
  • Adaptable to other wearables ex reminder on watch instead
  • Accessible, ex blind people, 3D map of world will help them navigate

Session 11: Balance and Compromise, weaving localization into content strategy

Lise Bissonette Janody

Problem statement Factors in CS strategy Key Points/Takeaways
Localization is often an afterthought in Content Strategy
  • Market forces
    • Growing or not
    • Legal
    • Brand recognition
    • Competition
  • Cultural forces
    • Language pref
    • Formal or not
    • Look and feel
  • Internal forces
    • Marketing presence
    • Central decision making or not
  • Objectives
    • Inform
    • Educate
    • Transact
    • Convert
  • GILT acronym
    • Globalization, company ready
    • Internationalization, tools ready
    • Localization, adapting content for another context
    • Translation
  • Country and language are not the same thing. Ex Locale: three in Switzerland
  • Choose architectural model for web site. Ex, localized web site can be stand alone or contained in main site
  • Other factors
    • Your CMS
    • Governance
    • Findability (keywords)
    • Quality (machine translation)
  • Do:
    • Chunk
    • Rules to enforce standards. Ex short titles needed for Google. Need guardrails
    • Use tools to lower costs
    • Limit the number of players and steps involved.

Session 12: Introduction to oManual

Kyle Wiens, CEO, iFixit

He started company about how to fix things:

The odata standard is located at: is the home page for the Open Manual Format.

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
Content not enough, has to be easy to use. And right tools at right time. Savvy customers want lasting products. 91 percent fixed things they wouldn’t have done before. 95 percent would buy again from same manufacturers. Average user fixed seven items.
  • Community of people are writing content to fix everything.
Need open source format for crowd sourced content oManual is a simple, open XML-based standard for semantic, multimedia-rich procedural manuals.
  • All manuals are open source
  • oData is data spec and server API spec
  • oManual is now complete, IEEE complient
  • DITA or oManual scripts in a few months. Tool vendors should support it in a year or so.

Session 13: All Knowledge, Annotated

Dan Whaley, CEO is the main website. is link to alpha version. Note that there is no link from the parent site to here, you just have to know it. Now you do.

Problem statement Reason for problem Key Points/Takeaways
We are missing half the web, the annotation layer that was in the original design of the web and the original Netscape browser
  • Proprietary solutions are company owned, in silos, not permanent
  • Conversation level is a mess or missing. Example,, can see bills but can’t discuss them. Must use Reddit to discuss bills
  • Annotation is like an arrow with a payload. Has target and message. Is searchable
  • Imagine, any site, any time, in any format, that we could annotate and be visible to all
  • His non-profit company is building open source solution


Starting Your Own Business — Virtual Conference Preview!

STC is offering a 3-day virtual conference on “Starting Your Own Business.” This online event will include presentations on all aspects of starting your own business or freelancing shop.

If you are a business owner, independent consultant, freelancer or trainer, you should definitely consider attending. Prices are very reasonable. For more details or to register, visit the virtual conference website ..

Monique Semp, one of our STC NorthBay members, is one of many distinguished presenters at this conference. She is offering to give us a virtual preview of her 30 minute presentation!

Strategy First: Launching Successful Technical Communication Projects

You’ve decided to take the plunge and begin your new career as an independent consultant, but now what? You need a place to work! This session covers important topics such as location, computer hardware and software, furnishings (both immediate necessities and business/tax planning for future purchases), ergonomics, IT concerns (outlets, networks, backup methods, etc.), and building your reference library (both online and old-fashioned print books). You’ll receive checklists and references to help you create an office that you’ll not only want to spend time in, but that fosters productive (and lucrative) work.

This “preview” is scheduled for April 9, 2013, at 7pm. If you’d like to join us, please contact the STC NorthBay webmaster at <> at least 24 hours in advance (Monday evening).

What’s a TC Camp?

TC Camp is an “unconference” focused on Technical Communications issues, skills, challenges, and the various applications used by technical communicators.

So, what’s an unconference? It’s an event where users suggest topics, get together and discuss them in detail. It’s even described in Wikipedia .. check it out.

The purpose of TC Camp is to provide a local bay area conference for technical communicators that is driven by the members of that community–writers, editors, designers, and the people who support them.

  • Date: Saturday, 26 January 2012
  • Time: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Venue: Silicon Valley Cloud Center, 222 Caspian Dr, Sunnyvale, CA
  • Cost: Workshops are $30, the rest of the day is FREE! (and if you use this code “SCOTTCAMPS”, the workshop is 50% off)

This looks to be a lot of fun and seems like a good opportunity to learn something new. Visit the website for details and registration ..

Our July 2010 Meeting: A Tour of Virtual Worlds and How They Impact Technical Communicators

In this online-only event, Mike Ziegenhagen shared his growing expertise–and most of all his enthusiasm–ror the expanding sector of virtual world applications. Many are by now aware of Second Life, but Mike documented an application from Forterra Systems called OLIVE ™, an “online interactive virtual environment” that offers the security sorely lacking in the standard, free version of Second Life (OLIVE can be seen as “Second Life in business suit”). His experience with the team was also a great opportunity to work with both artists and actors, to achieve the best possible renderings and life-like actions of the avatars. Verisimilitude is more and more critical to success. Mike also gave a brief tour of Blue Mars, a 3D social networking application, based on high-definition game technology, that is definitely worth exploring.

There are additional applications for hosting secure virtual meetings: Venuegen can be “rented” for under $100/mo. for ten people or so, and 3DXplorer offers an enterprise beta version. Both are browser based. Also, Second Life Work offers an application-based approach for those willing to buy.

Why bother? It turns out that business are seeing the advantages to hosting so-called hybrid events and conferences. Participants who want to meet in meatspace continue to do so, while those distributed around the world appreciate the advantages of entering the virtual world. Indeed, perpetual virtual environments are turning out to be profit centers. Not only that, but they can be really fun (as long as you don’t get lost in layers of consciousness, Inception-style, so to speak. It is actually not all that hard to get lost. But fortune favors the brave and the curious. With increasing bandwidth and video processing power for less and less money, it it not inconceivable to see virtual meeting places become more and more common. They can be used to unite family members, and they provide unique opportunities for training. STC is rumored to have a group (more detail to be provided when it is available), and you can always check out NPR’s Science Friday Second Life.

Next steps?

  • Do some research.
  • Explore some sites.
  • Download Second Life viewer and take if for a ride.
  • Get a good headset.
  • Have some fun.
  • The NorthBay Chapter is looking forward to playing around with this new medium, so stay tuned and let us know if you want to test the virtual waters. It is almost as if the spirit of the early days of computing were back again.

    LavaCon 2010: Manage Your Online Brand (and support your local chapter!)

    OK, you’re on Facebook and maybe Twitter. Now what?

    Join other technical communicators at the LavaCon Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies, Sept. 29–Oct. 2 in San Diego, CA and learn how to use social media to advance your tech comm career.

    First, read Jack Molisani’s cover article on the June Intercom magazine to see if social networking is for you:

    Then go to to view the LavaCon program and register!

    Note: Register by August 6th using the referral code STCCANB to support the STC-NorthBay chapter and to receive $50 off your conference tuition!

    2010 STC Summit in Dallas

    The 2010 STC Technical Communication Summit was held in Dallas this year on May 2-5. Our chapter was represented by two members, Monique Semp and myself (Scott Prentice). We estimate that we may have had the greatest percentage of chapter attendance, a whopping 20% (2 of the 10 “official” chapter members)! Let’s shoot for at least 50% next year in Sacramento .. no excuses!

    This was my 7th Summit, and it was as interesting and informative as ever. I gave a presentation on AIR Help, which seemed to go reasonably well. I attended a number of sessions that provided me with new ideas and got me thinking about things in a new way. I was also able to meet a few new online friends in person, as well as the usual crew of colleagues and conference-goers. From a business perspective, it was good to meet some clients who I’d only interacted with via the phone or email, and made contacts with a few potential future customers. I also attended the Awards Banquet for the first time this year (needed to borrow a tie), which was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many people’s hard work recognized.

    My trip was a bit shorter than I like, so wasn’t able to explore Dallas at all, but I hear that those that did had a good time in the museums, shopping, and local sights. When in a new city, I will typically take the train or light rail from the airport if that’s available, but unfortunately the train system from the DFW airport doesn’t run on Sundays (hmm .. I guess people don’t travel on Sundays?).

    One big announcement this year was that the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its newest Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) in December and, as STC announced in April, “Technical Writer” has its own chapter for the very first time. This is a huge boost to the profession of technical communicators, and is completely due to the efforts of the STC. For more information on this effort, check out the website. If you want to read the official document, you’ll find it here ..