Why the EU is Better Off Without the UK

Shortly after the Brexit vote, a French diplomat was quoted as saying,

Before, Britain had one foot in and one foot out. Now, they have one foot out and one foot in.

Ironic truth. To me, it is crystal clear that the European Union needs the UK, but not as a member – as a friend. Dear Britons, I am so glad you voted to leave – and I am also glad that you’re not going very far. You’ll still be there, just over the channel, playing in our back yard, vacationing in our sunny climes (unless that changes – global warming, you know…), and enjoying our food and wine.

Not only that, you’ll still be trading with us, fighting by our side – at least some of the time, and probably even welcoming Polish plumbers.

Continue reading “Why the EU is Better Off Without the UK”

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RIP Michel Rocard

Michel Rocard is dead. It will be a long time before any political figure appears, in France
or anywhere else, that has his rigorous intellect, his ethical position, or his clarity of vision.

890635-michel-rocard-psu
Michel Rocard, socialist militant in 1971. Source: Agence France Presse

He saw the need for France to disengage from its colonial holdings well before anyone else.

He was a true believer in the possibility of government by the voice of the people, with social justice – in short, a social democrat in the true sense of the term, not the way it’s been mangled by ideologues of all sort.

He was a true lover of Europe – a Europe of federated nations, working collectively for the common good – not just economically, but politically and socially as well. Not managed by technocrats, but by European citizens who felt themselves to be European citizens.

He saw, back in 2014, that the UK had done a lot of damage to the EU and needed to get out – about which more in my next post.

He was a staunch defender of open source software.

As prime minister, he passed the minimum revenue allocation for all French residents.

He believed that good decision making requires reflection, that you have to take the time to accomplish that.

He believed you need to be practical, and deal with reality as it is, in order to make life better, without losing an idealistic vision of how that might be.

He shall be sorely missed, even by people who don’t even know his name.

The Coming Crisis

I’m not an academic. I haven’t done any research. I just observe the world and say what I see, and what I see is this:

  • We think it’s OK to deliver personal attacks, salacious innuendo, smear campaigns, and lies, and refer to it as “political discourse.”
  • We think it’s OK to advertise every product made in every part of the globe at every level of quality as “the best” – thereby rendering the word “best” meaningless.
  • We think it’s OK to announce loud and clear that we are against money laundering, tax evasion, and fiscal fraud, proclaim significant measures to combat them, and do nothing.
  • We think it’s OK to patent living organisms, genetic codes, and other aspects of life on this earth, as if they were industrial products.
  • We think it’s OK to use a term like “intellectual property,” and we think we can buy and sell ideas.

Continue reading “The Coming Crisis”

We Are Family

Over here in Europe, we get a fair number of American TV series, but not all of them. Recently, a friend passed me a complete set of all the existing episodes of Firefly which I’ve been enjoying immensely. I’d not heard of it before, but I understand that it has become something of a cult series in the U.S. and I understand why.

It has something in common with a series that has had vastly greater success, in the U.S. and abroad: NCIS.

I’m not sure why one series failed and the other succeeded, but what ties them both together, and makes them both so appealing, is the sense of dysfunctional but united family.

Continue reading “We Are Family”

A Cognitive Design for User Assistance – Comprehensive Links

Update, 17 September 2015: Adobe has a new platform for its recorded webinars. Links to the recordings are now updated and will work correctly.

It is important to follow the Instructions for viewing them, which is also updated.

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I’ve had a number of emails, tweets, and other requests for information on how to get slides or recordings of the webinar series I just finished for Adobe.

Thanks are in order

First off, I need to thank all of you who attended, asked questions, passed me feedback and food for thought.

Thanks also to Adobe for giving me the space and the freedom to present these ideas, and promote the research we are starting to do in The Transformation Society. I’ll be blogging about that more in the near future.

Some Practical Information

Slides are posted as pdf files to Slideshare. You are welcome to use, but not modify, these slide decks, with attribution.

Recordings of the webinars are on the Adobe site – you need to have an adobe.com account to get to them. This will not hurt, I promise 😉 You can get the account for free, and there’s no obligation attached to it.

 Instructions for viewing webinar recordings 

When you click the links to the webinar recordings, you’ll arrive at the webinar description page. Click the “register” button, then fill out the form. You’ll be sent a link that will activate watching. The user experience is less than stellar, but don’t worry about it – just plod through, you’ll end up at the recording, just as we promised 😉

The Links

Session 1: Users Become Learners

Session 2: Empowering User/Learners Through Cognitive Development

Session 3: Integrated Learning: Building Customer Loyalty

 I’ve tested the links, and as of this writing, they all work as advertised.

Enjoy!

 

The Gestalt of Bookkeeping

Well!  The STC election is over (I won). The spring conference season is over – at least for me, with many successes and then – the one I didn’t do so well at. The home stretch in this hectic season, before relaxing for the summer (apart for some client work to pay the bills) was French tax season.

To do my taxes, I first have to do my books. If you’re like me, you wait until the last minute to do a lot of the bookkeeping work. Resolutions, year after year, to keep my books up to date all during the year have all gone down the road that’s paved with good intentions…

Bookkeeping is a simple, boring, annoying task, right? Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be? Funny thing is, each year, when I start this process, so many things come back to me:

The lunch in New York, where I invited two of my former students, from two universities on different continents and from two different generations, because I was sure they’d have something to say to each other, and they did.

The EuroIA conference in Prague that stimulated and excited me.

The Intelligent Content conference in Palm Springs where I not only was stimulated and excited, but got to have a wonderful reunion with an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was…)

The new sound equipment that I bought and have not yet used as intended (real soon now).

The trip to San Francisco that I didn’t plan, after the death of my closest cousin.

The weekend canoeing with my Barcelona friends on a meander of the Ebro River near Flix.

Doing one’s books for the whole year all at once provides the kind of reflection and review that we are supposed to do around various religious ceremonies, but that many of us largely ignore. Holding that receipt in the hand opens a floodgate of memory. It can be a time for nostalgia, for bittersweet reminiscence, even for regrets, or might stimulate us to beg pardon of someone for something we did during the past year.

Bookkeeping. Who woulda thunk it?

I Keep Thinking…

…about all this communication stuff:

  • I keep thinking about how information architects don’t like to be called UX designers. “IA is so much more,” they say. The “more” they’re talking about includes content. Not Lorem Ipsum, but real content. Many IA’s think of themselves as content strategists, too. They probably are. In fact, I think IA and CS are interlocking, interdependent parts of a single, holistic process – whether done by one person or a team.
  • I keep thinking about how Map should be an element used on the publishing side of DITA, not the authoring side. Let’s rename Map to Container (that’s what it is) and then a Map could really be one: you could map a layout out on a graphic of a page or screen of your publication, and fill it with DITA elements: topics, concepts, and the newly named containers. Using these graphical elements, you could have text flows just like in old fashioned desk top publishing programs, and you could control the layout and make it pretty – removing one of the most common criticisms of working with XML.
  • I keep thinking how I really want to do it all myself. Not because I don’t like teamwork, not because I’m jealous of others’ competencies, but because I love all this stuff so much, I just want to have the fun of doing it all. Silly of me, I know.
  • I keep thinking how technical communication is a lot like playing the piano. Not just because you need to make your fingers work a keyboard in both cases, but also because, as you develop your skill and hone your craft, you become aware that you are working with subtleties that no one other than a few other specialists in your field would ever be aware of. Quality assurance people would say that this is “too much quality” – you should provide just as much as the customers ask for, and not a jot more. But we do this, every day, even though we don’t really get paid for it, and users do not – at least consciously – notice. Not only that, I encourage everyone to keep doing it.
  • I keep thinking that everything is connected. I’d better quit it, because in the end, it means thinking about the entire, infinite, exquisite universe – makes my head ache.
  • Yeah, but I keep thinking that the only really valuable skill in this age is the ability, just exactly, to make connections between things where seemingly none exists.
  • I keep thinking that one day, we’ll discover basic principles of electronic networking and break through to achieving the wonderfully facilitating type of many to many communications environments we used to have on The Source back in 1985.
  • I keep thinking that Ted Nelson was right. About just about everything.
  • I keep thinking that the more means we have to communicate, the more we seem to be throwing words and preconceived ideologies at each other like weapons.
  • I keep thinking about silence.