Probing Our Future

Logo_transformationSociety_SmallFor some time, I’ve been mentioning The Transformation Society, a new organisation I co-founded with Dr. Neus Lorenzo. We are very excited about a project we will be doing at this year’s TCUK conference.

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Four Years on the STC Board – A Review

Dear readers, I have just completed two terms as a director at large of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). I think those of you who are STC members deserve a review of what those four years have – and have not – accomplished.

When I first ran, I had a long list of issues that I wanted dealt with. I was going to insist that they be taken seriously, my intention was to be a real pain until the board looked at all of them. Much to my amazement, all the issues on my list got raised within the first six months of my board tenure, without my having to insist on anything! This despite the fact that from my first day, we were faced with the need to find a new Executive Director. Life on the STC board has been a series of surprises, obstacles, successes, and disappointments.

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My Next Webinar – Join me for “Building Loyalty by Product Design – When customers become stakeholders”

Thursday, 14 August at 14:00 CEST, 1:00 pm BST, 8:00 am EDT

My next free webinar takes a content strategist’s approach to the use of social media to feed back into product design and build customer loyalty.

Once a customer buys your product or service, it becomes the main communications channel with your company. That means that the content contained in your product (interfaces, messages, manuals, ergonomics and esthetic design, etc.) must be on message with the rest of your content strategy. One way to build that message, and improve product design in the process, is to build true integrated communities of stakeholders that include your customers as equal players with your internal teams: design, development, marketing, management, etc.

These communities are far from a simple Facebook page, or “user forum.” They require attention, care, and feeding, and the reward is a degree of loyalty money can’t buy.

Sign up to attend

Where are the Content Industries Going?

Some of you may have heard me talk, already, about The Transformation Society – a new research group that I have co-founded in Barcelona with Dr. Neus Lorenzo, a specialist in new technologies applied to education.

TransForm2

I’ll be blogging more about The Transformation Society in the near future – but you can already see the results of some of our research.

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Are You Googleable?

A comment I made to one of Mark Baker’s recent posts, What is your primary media? Paper or the web? led to an interesting discussion about embedded user assistance.

In my recent webinar series on User Assistance and Cognition, I used the term Double Embeddedness to speak of embedded procedural help that has, in turn, concepts embedded in it. I also mentioned that our user assistance needs to be searchable.

In our exchange on Mark’s blog, he said,

Embedded assistance can never be comprehensive, by its nature, so there is still a role for more comprehensive information. But the place for that more comprehensive information is on the Web, where it can integrate with all the customer-produced information. People are simply going to stop looking to “the help” as an intermediate information source. They are going to start with the interface, and then go to the web.

I couldn’t agree more. Not only that, but the source of that additional material must be a true, integrated learning community, one that groups users, SME’s, developers, tech comms, marketers, and product managers in one community, sharing ideas as equal contributors (even if, eventually, some of them have decision power that others do not have).

That was one of the main points in the third webinar of the series.

If your user assistance isn’t Googleable, chances are your users are not going to find it – wherever else it happens to be.

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!

 

Lost in the Meme Field of Good and Evil

For most of the last seven years, France has had a meme called Florence Cassez. Mlle. Cassez has spent all of those seven years behind bars in a Mexican prison. She was arrested for kidnapping, along with her boyfriend, a known Mexican gangster. Her arrest was filmed by Mexican television. The entire country, terrorized as it is by drug wars and gangs, both imported from Colombia where the climate is not so comfortable any more, and home grown, watched as a foreign criminal was brought to justice by the Federales.

Mlle. Cassez, even during her arrest, said, “Yo no sabia” – “I didn’t know.” She consistently claimed her innocence, and her defenders asserted that her only crime was poor choice in partners and gullibility. The case became a cause célebre in both countries, and almost immediately became politicized, with Mexican and French presidents digging in – the one insisting on her guilt, the other on her innocence. The Mexican press was universally cruel to her, while the French press had practically acquitted her, so wildly enthusiastic were they for her cause.

Several times, the Mexican courts, right up to the Supreme Court, were asked to rule on questions of irregularity in her arrest, tainted evidence, etc. All to no avail. All appeals lost.

Florence Cassez became a true meme, spreading like wildfire and becoming symbolic in at least two countries, pushing in opposing and incompatible directions in each case.

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