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2011 predictions for technical communication

Predictions time! First, let’s review the 2010 post: cloud-based authoring begins to replace desktop authoring, increased adoption of XML alongside more sophisticated justifications, social media, collaboration, important new terms (content strategy [yes!] and decision engine [huh?]).

I’m not sure why I thought “decision engine” was going to take off, because it didn’t. Onward to 2011…

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Managing technical communicators in an XML environment

To understand how XML changes technical communication, we need to step back and look at how the rise of information technology has changed the content development process. Through the 1970s, most technical communication work had separate writing, layout, and production phases. Authors wrote content, typically in longhand or on typewriters. Typesetters would then rekey the information to transfer it into the publishing system. The dedicated typesetting system would produce camera-ready copy, which was then mechanically reproduced on a printing press.
In a desktop publishing environment, authors could type information directly into a page layout program and set up the document design. This eliminated the inefficient process of re-entering information, and it often shifted the responsibility for document design to technical communicators.

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