Pot Shots: They’re So Easy

It’s been 15 years since I moved out of Paris, and three and a half since I stopped going there regularly to work. And still, I find myself feeling that the recent assault in the French capital was an assault on “my” city. It was also an assault on human dignity.

As I think about it, and grieve, I am also struck by how much this issue hinges on questions of communication.

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Adobe FrameMaker 2015: Traditional Future

Adobe’s newest suite of technical communication products, TCS 6, has just appeared, all new and squeaky clean, with its lead products rebranded as “2015 Releases.” I’ll write again later about the suite as a whole, but this post is specifically about FrameMaker.

FrameMaker is arguably the lead product in this suite, and its 2015 incarnation is one that finds inspiration in its original roots – going back to the source – and in a firm vision of a multichannel, multiscreen, multimodal future.

It seems to be the year for abundance of new and genuinely useful features in tech comm editors, and FrameMaker boasts its share of ’em. I’m sure lots of other bloggers and reviewers will enumerate them for you, and evaluate their implementation or their overall utility. I’m interested in writing about the impact of some of these new features, and what that means for two futures – a future in our profession that is a quickly moving target full of unknowns, and a future for the application itself that might be surprising.

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Words Are Important

Back in the 80s, when I worked in radio, I remember very vividly the words of Andre Codrescu, a writer and commentator on NPR, the U.S. national public radio network. Codrescu came to the U.S. escaping Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania. In one commentary, he was recalling some event involving either protest, writing, or both. I no longer recall what the event was, but I remember this sentence:

In Romania, words have power. You can go to jail for them.

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The Evolution of oXygen 17

For the last few weeks, I’ve had a chance to play with the beta of oXygen 17, which has just been released by publisher SyncRO Soft. In keeping with my previous post, I’m going to focus on how the software is evolving. However, since there are a good 80 new features in this release, I can’t avoid doing a bit of feature listing

My previous look at oXygen 14.2 also served as a general product review. Since then, this top class XML Editor has continued to evolve toward the non-specialist user in two ways. It makes XML editing easier for people who don’t know anything about XML and don’t want or need to, and it also provides easier access to the XML structure for those who do.

Not only that, this new release goes a long way toward making the job of developers who want to customize oXygen much easier, while retaining the features that make it popular with geeks and specialists. Continue reading

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How the Humanist Nerd Approaches Software Tools

In the last while, I have occasionally written something that resembles a review of technical communication editing tools. As we enter a new string of product releases, I’d like to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from, and why I do these the way I do. Continue reading

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Millenials and Social Networking – A Critique

Someone directed me to a post about Millenials and Social Networking, It is written by someone who, I imagine, is a member of that generation, and yet I find it totally – but totally – wrong.

I wanted to reply in situ but it seems you need to log onto Facebook to do so. I don’t do Facebook, so I’m posting my reply here:

I’m not a millenial, but a baby boomer, and I take umbrage at the proposition that simply because sites like Twitter and Pinterest foster curation, people have lost the ability (or desire?) to be creative. “To everything there is a season” and a place, as well. We use different social media for different purposes. Curation is not simply imitation, it’s also selection, and that means practicing a discriminatory ability, critical reading, etc.

Generation Y does have problems that are specific to it – so did we, so does every generation. So what? If you look at the research, the notion of Gen Y as narcissistic comes from my generation, not from the data. Gen Y is creating what Henry Jenkins refers to as the “Participatory Culture,” something we individualists have had a hard time doing, especially after we hit middle age, and certainly in our dotage.

Let’s stop promoting clichés and look at real data, real people, and real situations. The world has become a harder place than it was in our youth, let’s help younger people cope with it, instead of dumping on them. Otherwise, what was the “summer of love” for?

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Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways? – part 2

Quite a while ago, I promised a second part to my critique of the analogy of Internet with Superhighways. As usual, sloth, and other pressing emergencies made it fade into the background. But with the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) ruling on Net Neutrality still fresh and shiny, this seems like the moment to make good on that promise.

Before Internet of Things – Internet of Ideas

The phenomenon known as Internet of Things – where intelligent, connected objects communicate and take decisions without human intervention – could not exist if we didn’t already have an internet where the majority of communication remains textual (like this blog, for instance). We tend to prefer familiar models, and the model of written communication is one that is deeply embedded in Western cultures.

But the Internet is also a natural transmedia vector, and we already see stories being told by parallel text, video, audio, fixed image, and other kinds of content, on multiple screens. To get the whole story, you have to engage with all the different media that are used to tell it, and none of them has the complete lowdown. We use very different perceptual equipment to understand each of these media, and they happen simultaneously. This is so far away from any kind of superhighway analogy – we are, in fact, in the realm of parallel universes!

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