Worth Repeating: Head tracking in a 2D Universe

Recently I came across an exceptional persuasive video in which the presenter explains a complex perceptual issue in user experience with astounding clarity. I like the way the presenter, Johnny Lee, thinks. If only my writing could be this clear even some of the time!  What is most amazing to  me is the number of views on this particular video — approaching 10 million at the time I viewed it.

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Is the “Right Info” Meme Still Right?

At the recent LavaCon 2012 Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies, Michael Boses and I presented a session on “How to Deliver the Wrong Content to the Wrong Person at the Wrong Time.” For my part, I showed a publishing life cycle diagram and discussed best practices for each stage that can enhance the value and discoverability of your content. The “Wrong Way” corollary for each phase was, of course, a commensurate worst practice to avoid. You can find our full set of slides here. But as in any good spy thriller, the plot is thicker than first glance would suggest.
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The Drive Behind Your Writing: What is Your Passion?

Do specialties make a difference in our careers as writers? That’s what popular blogger Tom Johnson muses about in his personal summary of last week’s LavaCon 2012 Conference (Specializing in the Next Big Thing: A Few Lingering Thoughts from Lavacon). At one point in his post, Tom mentions a conversation that he and I had during conference, and observes that Web programming is the evident specialty behind my writing. Tom’s introspective points about writers needing to become specialists left me wondering, “What is the drive behind my (or any writer’s) specialties?”

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Unstructured vs Non-structured: Seeing With the Third Eye

My wife Kathy is a first grade teacher. Working from my office at home, she often catches up on email about situations at her school. While doing her email recently, she asked me about the difference between “unstructured” and “nonstructured,” which her email text editor had indicated was misspelled. The latter word was missing a hyphen, of course, and seems to far less used, but the bigger issue was which was the right word to use in her context, which was discussing lack of supervision in a hallway.

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If Icon do it, Yukon Too!

A quick search showed I’m hardly the first person to wonder how to pronounce some of the emerging Portmanteau words of the technology era. The word I had in mind was “favicon,” a blend of “favorite” as in URL and “icon,” which of course is what that little character is– the graphic that appears alongside visited URLs and in the page tabs in your browser.

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Why We Need Structured Content

Do you remember Jon Bosak’s famous quip from the late ’90’s article XML, Java, and the future of the Web? The context was about XML “giving Java something to do.” It was meant to characterize the benefits of processing semantic XML content close to the user–the vision and expected architecture for The Semantic Web. But the phrase fell into disuse as technologies like HTML microformats and asynchronous JavaScript libraries have replaced Java for big data visualization in the browser. And while content may be king of something or other, HTML has remained the undisputed King of Content—at least for gluing together the hodgepodge Web we’ve come to know. Continue reading

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Worth Repeating: Why Transformations

Reading about technology isn’t always easy. Few writers can pare down an issue to its essentials and then use common experiences to re-explain it with new relevance. For me, that clarity as a writer comes only after countless revisions, so I readily appreciate whenever I read a forum post or blog comment where someone has explained a difficult concept with ease. Today’s Worth Repeating highlights a concept that drives many ideas behind smart publishing today: how transformation as a design point in applications actually helps future-proof your content. Continue reading

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Text, Trust, and the Turing Test

Are writers’ jobs about to be lost to computers? Could IBM’s Watson become the next Pulitzer Prize winner?  It seems likely, according to some related articles making the rounds in content strategy forums: Continue reading

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Update on Learning by Wrote activities

This blog has gotten quite a rest as I’ve been putting my “thoughts into code” with a complete redesign and expansion of the expeDITA open source intelligent content framework. Along with that I  have been engaged in some interesting work on:
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Seven Steps to DITA Adoption Across the Enterprise: Lavacon 2011 workshop

I’m pleased to announce that Michael Boses of Quark XML Author fame will join me in co-presenting a pre-conference workshop on Sunday, 13 November 2011.


If you are in Austin and can’t swing attending the whole conference, there is a special  workshop-only registration page.

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