Question assumptions? Yes! And assume questions, too

There’s an old expression that to assume makes an ass out of u and me. (The phrasing works even better in the text era). I admit that many of my mistakes come from not checking my own assumptions. Is that what they really want? Is he postponing this week’s meeting, or next week’s? So myContinue reading “Question assumptions? Yes! And assume questions, too”

When the Instructions Are Wrong (Back It Goes)

I got a soundbar for my birthday, to complement our big plasma TV’s little speakers. I did my Web research on soundbars, but couldn’t decide among all the types available, so I went to an electronics store and put my fate in the hands of a salesman. He sold me a brand I hadn’t beenContinue reading “When the Instructions Are Wrong (Back It Goes)”

Herman Melville, technical writer

As I write this, the anniversary of the publication of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (as it was originally titled) is noted on Google. The novel is getting a celebrity Web reading. What timing! I recently finished listening to a complete audio recording. (Thanks, LibriVox.org!) The work is on the short list of consensus nominees for TheContinue reading “Herman Melville, technical writer”

New Models for Technical Communication

I was very impressed by Ellis Pratt’s presentation at the 2012 STC Summit, “What Should Technical Communicators Do When Products ‘Just Work’?” (If you missed it, and you didn’t purchase Summit@aClick, he’s repeating it as an STC-sponsored webinar on July 10.) He identifies a product trend away from “big and scary and likely to break”Continue reading “New Models for Technical Communication”

Production: It still matters

The last thing we do on a project is production, whether it be making sure that the electronic version is ready for distribution (golden master) or working with a printer on page proofs (golden oldie). Today, as one-stop information producers, we usually do the production ourselves, and we’re usually anxious to skip a formal productionContinue reading “Production: It still matters”

Sharpening the saw

I joined Digital Equipment Corporation at the peak of its success. As the company’s fortunes declined, employees got nervous about their future. Since I had outside experience, I was asked for résumé critiques by some highly proficient technical writers who faced the prospect of going elsewhere after spending ten, fifteen, twenty years—or even longer!—in oneContinue reading “Sharpening the saw”