Ignorance as an asset?

Sarah O'Keefe / Opinion1 Comment

There’s a recurring debate over how technical a technical writer should be. One faction argues that ignorance of the technology being documented forces the technical writer to think at the same level as the target audience — the end user.

The other faction argues that the ability to pretend ignorance may be valuable, but that the more the writer knows, the better.

I definitely fall into the latter camp, but I do recognize that being able to empathize (or maybe commiserate) with the end user is useful. I suggest that you periodically take up a new craft, like woodworking or crochet. This allows you to relive the experience of being adrift in ignorance, with little or no help available. Or try home remodeling (preferably on nothing of structural importance).

Corel, ArborText, Interleaf, plus Adobe and Macromedia

Sarah O'Keefe / News1 Comment

What do they have in common?

Back in 2003, Corel was acquired by Vector Capital.

In July 2005, PTC announced it was acquiring ArborText.

Adobe and Macromedia are working on a merger.

And now, BroadVision (which makes Interleaf) has announced that it is going private (it’s the opposite of an IPO) and being purchased by Vector Capital.

I think it adds up to a trend.

What does consolidation in this industry mean for us?

A different perspective on digital rights

Sarah O'Keefe / OpinionLeave a Comment

This week is apparently DRM Week here at Palimpsest…

Neil McAllister writes in InfoWorld:

[E]very business, and indeed every consumer, has information they want protected. Trade secrets are the obvious example. But closer to home, think of your employee records, your personal health care history, or the estimated 40 million credit card numbers that were exposed in the CardSystems Solutions security breach in June.

The thing about these kinds of records is that, in fact, they need to be shared, albeit in a controlled way. Your insurance information should be available to some parties, for example, but not to others. You don’t want to give it out willy-nilly. You want to license it. All that’s missing is a software infrastructure that would let you do that in a way that’s explicit, granular, and secure. DRM would provide such an infrastructure.

In praise of Digital Rights Management

He argues that the DRM vendors are barking up the wrong tree. Instead of locking up music and videos (which makes consumers unhappy), they should focus on managing rights to enforce privacy (which makes consumers happy).

Summer is a lovely time for….

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

The Alfresco Manifesto

Officially, it’s “Alfresco: Why Open Source?” The article describes the company’s approach to open-source content management.

Alfresco is interesting for several reasons, not least of which is that the founder, John Newton, was the founder of Documentum.

Read his manifesto. If you need content management, it’s entertaining. If you create commercial content management systems, it must be deeply frightening.

Trouble at STC

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

There is now a Yahoo group dedicated to “returning the Society for Technical Communication to an organization that is more OPEN and truly RESPONSIVE to the needs of its members.”

It’s not a good sign when a mailing list with this purpose attracts nearly 100 participants. (97 as I write this)

Reform STC Yahoo Group