Let's Tech Communicate

November 2017

Grant Mackenzie

This month Grant asks one space or two, offers the Useless Assistance - Halloween Edition, advises you to get your but out of there, and more.

One Space or Two

The eternal post-period question has always been “One space or two?” It is now almost universally accepted that, unless you are using an elderly monospace-font typewriter, only one space is used between sentences in the same paragraph. Here is Farhad Manjoo’s most entertaining Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period. James Felici offers a more complete and less strident history of the double space here. Thanks to Melissa Kearney for bringing these to my attention.

Contract as Cartoon

Dr Tony Self once gave an intriguing presentation What if the Reader Can’t Read? Well, Adrian Camara has written about one solution – the emerging discipline of contract design. In Cartoon Contracts? Welcome to the wild world of legal information design he discusses how people like Stefania Passera in Finland, and Rob de Rooy in Cape Town, build contracts using drawings and even cartoons. The results are surprisingly clear and practical for the illiterate. All technical communicators can learn something about effective communication from this one. Thanks to Emma Harding for sharing this with me.

Technical Communicators Have Never Looked So Good

TecCOM Frame – The Profession of Technical Communication is a glossy new German website explaining technical communication and its purpose. According to TecCOM Frame, we’re “ a media profession with a future that holds possibilities”. Who knew our profession was so glamorous?

Usability and UX Are Not the Same

Silvia C. Zimmermann is founder, CEO and lead experience designer at Usability.ch. In this useful and concise article she explains how usability and user experience (UX) are not the same. She tells us to “think of usability as a more performance-driven approach , while user experience is a holistic approach to assessing the experience of users”.

Word Wise: Get Your But Out of There

Marcia Riefer Johnston is on a mission to kill the words but, however and although. They are sometimes correctly used to introduce contradictions, but more often than not we see them incorrectly used – well – for no reason at all if you believe Marcia. In Get your but out of there, she discusses the false but, implied contradiction, and sly, uncontradicting contradiction-indicating connectives.

Useless Assistance – the Halloween Edition

Edward Smyda-Homa (his real name) has made it his life’s work to share examples of user assistance which is completely useless. In this edition, he shows us some creepy pictorial user assistance which just might knock on your front door and ask for treats.