Category Archives: Tom’s Rant

What I learned from my Millennial daughter

I was speaking with my youngest daughter yesterday about a client project. She works for The Content Era in a technical role. Throwing that laptop into my two daughters cribs was a wise move.

Considering that we consult in the Technical Communication Space, being able to print out our client’s documentation before and after our engagement has been a simple rule of mine. Doing a visual inspection on paper is my final check after inspecting the XML source. When I asked her if she has printed out the catalog we just converted from Interleaf / Quicksilver to DITA / XML using Structured FrameMaker, she responded that she does not have a printer in her home office. Everything to her is about screens (cell phone, tablet, and laptop) in either pdf or HTML5. It never even entered into her mind to own a printer.

I have long enabled multi-screen HTML5 publishing, and mobile application builds, but I never considered letting go of my paper publish. The train is moving. The Millenial Generation is driving our future.

Is it time for me to throw out my laser printer or should I force the old tech on her?

Is The Technical Communication Market Really Shrinking?

Over the last decade, I have heard the warnings that “the TechComm industry is shrinking” and could slowly fade away. I also heard that no young people are joining our vocation. Also, the presentation does not matter, now that DITA XML is our savior … and more.

Let me speak to “The TechComm Industry Is Shrinking” alternate fact. I would like to quote a past co-worker and friend Chris Jastram to start to frame my stance.

“So I’ve recently come to a rather concrete understanding of the odd distinction between “facts” and “truth.” A lot of us have been taught to value facts, myself included. Unfortunately, this is a bit naive. Facts can get you in a lot of trouble. It is a fact that smoking lowers your blood pressure overall. Smoking helps you lose weight (and keep it off). These are facts, shown by science. But the truth is that smoking is bad for you. Facts are a part of discovering truth, but if you only satisfy yourself with knowing facts, you may not find truth.”

We have heard “The TechComm Industry Is Shrinking” from many software manufacturers, tradeshow presenters, consultants and bloggers in our industry. With a very limited scope, this fact could be seen as truth. We may go to tradeshows and see fewer people. Consultants may see less prospect client opportunities. The usual TechComm attendees come from large Companies that can afford to send them to these events. Their Technical Writer ranks may be shrinking due to the efficiencies of implementing structured authoring, managed content, automated workflow, and publishing. Tradeshow presenters come from both the consulting and named Company ranks. They talk about what they see in front of them. They speak about some facts, but not the truth.

I ask you to consider the possibility that most people that currently go to industry events (Tradeshows and Webinars) are the same Companies and individuals year after year. They may bounce between events, so some events may expand while others contract. We do get some new faces, but more older ones fade away. Does this mean the industry is shrinking?

No. I believe this group represents just a minuscule sampling of our industry and substantially under-represents Companies that have yet to move away from manual unstructured authoring or are still stuck in legacy structured authoring environments like ArborText with some modified version of XDocBook. Just because we do not see this group at many events, does not mean they do not exist. These are the groups that will drive our industry moving forward if we find a way to engage them. If we do, these non-early adopters are the reason I believe we are on the verge of what we will perceive as explosive growth. It is just the normal change in processes at these non-visible sites that will lead them to structured authoring, but this time in volume.

If you are experienced in XML creation, management, and repurposing, get ready for the next big new wave of opportunity!

Thoughts?

“Thought Leader Thursday” Recorded Videos and Registration Links For May And June Sessions

Here is an easy access list to all Free recorded videos of our “Thought Leader Thursday” Webinars held by The Content Era. Hosted by Tom Aldous. We have also included links to TLT Webinars scheduled for the remainder of June.

 

Thought Leader Thursday – June
June 16th 1PM EST Neil Perlin Presenting – “How Mobile Will Affect Tech Comm” http://bit.ly/Neil_Perlin
June 23rd 1PM EST Scott Abel Presenting – “Cognitive Computing” http://bit.ly/ScottAbelTLT
June 30th 1PM EST Noz Urbina Presenting – “Journey-Mapping for Personalization Across Multiple Channels “ http://bit.ly/NozUrbinaTLT
Thought Leader Thursday – Recordings
Air Date – June 9th 1PM EST Jang Graat Presenting – “Content is Dead – Long Live Content” http://bit.ly/RecordedTLT_JangGraat
Air Date – June 2nd 1PM EST Dustin Vaughn Presenting – “Modernizing Documentation Through Rich Media: Is It Too Late?” http://bit.ly/RecordedTLT_DustinVaughn
Air Date – May 26th 1PM EST Alex Masycheff Presenting – “DITA For All” http://bit.ly/RecordedTLT_AlexMasycheff
Air Date – May 19th 1PM EST Joe Gollner Presenting – “Content 4.0″ http://bit.ly/RecordedTLT_JoeGollner
Air Date – May 12th 1PM EST George Bina Presenting – “Web Based Authoring: The Way of the Future” http://bit.ly/RecordedTLT_GeorgeBina
Air Date – May 5th 1PM EST Kit Brown-Hoekstra Presenting – “Communication Catalysts – Changing The World by Doing Our Jobs” http://bit.ly/RecordedTLT_KBH

Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Robot

It does not take too much imagination to visualize the world in the near future where Robots and Artificial Intelligence replace most positions within our society. The Swiss just voted down a “Basic Salary” for all its citizens. The thought was that if Robots and Artificial Intelligent Entities are going to replace human beings, Governments have the obligation to redistribute some of the Corporation’s wealth that benefit from this Mega Trend back to it’s Citizens. Due to its wealth, if Switzerland was an island, the experiment could have worked. Swiss borders are not closed but are open within the European Economic Union. Until all of the European Union Countries adopt a similar strategy making unwanted migration a non-issue, the time will not be right for the “Basic Salary” concept.

Although we always need to prepare for the future, we very much have to live in the present. The jobs shift cannot be stopped but what we can do is make ourselves more valuable within our corporations while the transition is happening. We need to ensure that we are one of the last people out the door.

Let’s look at how corporations assign value to individuals. Boards Of Directors provide goals to their CEOs. Depending on the industry, those goals could be revenue growth, profitability, market share, brand strength to name a few. Most corporations are built like a pyramid organizationally. These goals parse down to individuals that report directly to the CEO. Marketing may be charged with future revenue growth and brand strength. Sales with current revenue, Engineering with new product development and so on. The Executive Team that reports directly to the CEOs parses their goals to their direct reports and so on until it rolls down to where you are in the organization. Once you understand what’s required and what’s needed by your superiors, you can now align yourself towards those goals.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead organizations and to report to CEOs. The most frustrating thing that I had to deal with was the disconnect between the people who reported to me and their alignment to our goals. I have written them down. I have spoken to them verbally. I have tried to be creative in getting the people to understand and align. Most of the time I am successful, but sometimes I am not. The people that can’t or won’t align are the ones that get replaced.

Should we resist change or should we embrace it as an opportunity? In most cases resistance means job loss.

As the adoption of robots and artificial intelligence begin to replace our jobs. It is more important than ever to understand how we can perform our jobs in a way that aligns with our Corporate goals.

“Thought Leader Thursday’s” Webinar June Schedule

This month we will be covering a wide range of topics which affect your business in many ways. Our goal is to keep you questioning the assumptions. We want to hear your feedback. Do you have a suggestion?  Are there any topics you want to hear more about? Do you have a concept you’d like to share with our audience?

Send us your comments or your proposals. Email me at info@thecontentera.com

June 2016 Schedule

June 2nd @1pm EDT - Dustin Vaughn, Solutions Consulting Manager, Adobe

 Topic: Modernizing Documentation Through Rich Media: Is It Too Late?

 Recording:http://bit.ly/TLT_Rec_DustinV

June 9th @1pm EDT - Jang Graat, Chief Technologist, The Content Era LLC.

 Topic: “Content is Dead – Long Live Content!”

 Registration: http://bit.ly/TLT_JangG

June 16th @1pm EDT - Neil Perlin, President, Hyper/Word Services

Topic: “How Mobile Will Affect Tech Comm”

Registration:http://bit.ly/TLTNeil_Perlin

June 23rd @1pm EDT - Scott Abel,  Content Strategist and Intelligent Content Evangelist, The Content Wrangler

 Topic: “Cognitive Computing”

 Registration: http://bit.ly/TLT_ScottA

June 30th @1pm EDT - Noz Urbina, Founder, Urbina Consulting

 Topic: “Journey-Mapping for Personalization Across Multiple Channels”

 Registration: http://bit.ly/TLT_NozU

Find a full list of The Content Era’s events including all TLT recordings atwww.TheContentEra.com.

Reminder: All of our Thought Leader Thursday sessions and recording are free. Let your friends and co-workers know.

Single Source All Your Content

The authoring, editing and publishing workflow does not have to be disrupted.

In the Technical Communication (TechComm) Industry, we have been promoting single sourcing your content workflow for a while now. What we mean by single sourcing is that source content should be authored and edited in one universal format that eventually gets published in its various output formats like HTML5, PDF, ePub, Mobile Applications, etc. You should never edit the published content directly. If a change is required to the published content, the source should be updated and republished.

This sounds good in principle, but sometimes you need variations of the same content for different publication types. The best way to handle that is by using XML with metadata for conditional publish, managed in a Component Content Management System (CCMS) with Release management and Workflow capabilities. All XML structures are not the same, so which one should you standardize your organization’s content on? Standardize is the key. Using the popular XML Standard that is built from its foundation for content reuse and customization is the right step. That XML Standard is DITA.

If you buy off on this logic, you should have a few open questions.
Can more than Technical Communication Content be single sourced? How about Market and Sales Content?

How do we convert our existing content to the DITA XML Standard without disrupting our current authoring and publishing cycle? Without TechComm, Marketing and Sales Content most products can not be sold.

I heard Component Content Management Systems (CCMS) are very expensive. How do I create an ROI case for purchase? Worse yet, what if we simply do not have the budget for an expensive CCMS? Does that stop us from being able to Single Source our content in the DITA Format? The short answer is that there is a DITA CCMS vendor that is disrupting the current market. Their CCMS costs less than $1,000 for the server license and one user license. Now you can afford to pilot an XML DITA implementation. Prove out the Return Of Investment with real data. The low Total Cost Of Ownership also makes reaching the ROI numbers your Senior Managers require easier. That CCMS is DITAToo HTTP:\\www.aldousCMS.com. Full disclosure I am an equity partner in the firm the owns DITAToo.

When it comes to … can DITA XML content being used to create Marketing Content? Visit my Companies Website at http://www.TheContentEra.com. The complete website is published from DITA topics tied together by a master DITAMAP.

If you are interested in discussing anything about this, please feel free to reach out to me at tom.aldous@TheContentEra.com.

The Content Era redefines web creation by live transformation from DITA to their HTML5 Website

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Arcadia, FL – Feb. 19th 2016 - The Content Era has redefined the phrase ‘Going Live’ with the release of their new website, an adaptive HTML5 site based on DITA using live XSLT. Each page on the new website is created on the fly when it is accessed. Using the latest and greatest responsive web design techniques results in a visually pleasing site that is easy to navigate.

This unique method allows them to make changes to the content without having to re-publish the entire site to HTML5. The DITA source lives on the server, and when changes are made they can be viewed on the site a fraction of a second after the changed DITA source has been saved to their web-server.

“Running the transform on the server allows full adaptation to what we know about your system, your browser, your locale. Even without using cookies or JavaScript running on your device, we can personalize the content to quite a large extent. Just imagine automatic conversion of measurements and temperatures based on your geographic location, so you do not need to do the math or choose a conversion option from the menu. Of course this can be done with JavaScript, but we can do it much faster and much more efficient.” - Jang Graat – Chief Technologist (The Content Era)

“We can adapt the content to what the requesting device needs. If you are watching these pages on a smartphone, we can send low-resolution images and leave out most of the CSS and Javascript, as those are mainly serving options that you do not have available on your phone. It makes loading the pages in locations with limited mobile bandwidth a lot faster. This technology fundamentally changes the way enterprises will think about their workflow.”  - Tom Aldous – Founder and CEO (The Content Era)

The Content Era website will be live as of Feb. 18th, and will feature this adaptive publishing method running behind the scenes. This new website may involve cutting edge technical techniques but functionality and appearance has not been compromised. For more information about how it works, or to contact The Content Era team, visit their new and improved website at www.thecontentera.com.

Helpful Links:

Facebook   Tom Aldous LinkedIn   Tom’s Blog   Jang Graat’s LinkedIn

FrameMaker 2015 and DITAToo CCMS Video – Special Offer Pricing

Are you using FrameMaker as a DITA authoring tool or would like to? Is the cost of a DITA CCMS an issue? Not any more.

DITAToo CCMS cost to entry is very low. The DITAToo CCMS Server and first user license is only $950 list price. If you are interested in a copy, reach out to me at tom.aldous@TheContentEra.com. TCE will sell you the licenses at 10% off the already low cost. Offer good until 3/31/2016

See how by adding DITAToo DITA CCMS to FrameMaker you can get a complete solution for authoring, publishing, and managing DITA.

Here is the link to the video.

http://intuillion.com/2016/02/17/ditatoo-dita-ccms-framemaker-complete-authoring-publishing-and-management-solution-for-dita/