Social tech support

social_media As you know, Aaron and I use a number of Web-based applications in our day-to-day work. These apps generally work quite well, and many of them are easy to use. They’re not quite intuitive, but their learning curves are almost flat.

Which means that we don’t have to rely on help or technical support to figure things out and to get things done. OK, not always. Sometimes, things go wrong. It’s the nature of the software beast. And that’s when we need to run to someone for assistance.

A week or three ago, I was using an online application when … well, let’s just say something happened. It wasn’t a pleasant something, either. So, I clicked the support link. Instead of being taken to the Web site of the company that develops the application (as I expected to be), I was plonked at a site called

I was surprised, but I was also intrigued. And I saw the inherent potential of this approach to support.

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Why tweet when you can twait?

When I talk to people about Twitter, they have the impression that you need to be connected to the service — either by logging into the site or by using one of the many Twitter desktop/mobile clients — in order to use Twitter effectively. If you have the time, then more power to you.

Most of us don’t have that kind of time. Work and life tend to get in the way of tweeting, and a lot of other stuff. But there is a way around that. It’s called Twaitter.

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Social networking and you

coffee_cups Social networking is something that frequently crosses both my vision and my mind. To be honest, I have little time for networks like Facebook and MySpace. I’m grudgingly doing some microblogging. And while I’m not the most regular user or vocal advocate of it, I definitely understand the appeal and uses of social networking.

A trio of tweets by Scott Abel got me thinking a little more about social networking. Here’s what Scott wrote in those tweets:

  • Why reinvent the wheel? Groups/associations should consider using social networks as their “platform”; saves $, increases reach
  • STC chapters should have Facebook groups like Puget Sound’s there’s increasingly no need for
  • [TechComm] Most common answer when I ask unemployed tech writers if they have a profile on Linkedin: “What’s Linkedin?”

Scott started a small excrement storm with one of those tweets (can you guess which one?) — as usual, he was just calling things as he saw them. And I have to agree with him on all of those points. Not just with regard to the STC and our wacky little industry in particular, but to the professional world in general.

To me, social networks are (or, at least, can be) a manifestation of what musician Robert Fripp called small, mobile, self-contained units. They can spring up quickly. They can readily adapt to new trends and adopt new ideas. They’re easier to maintain and lack all of the organizational and historic and inertial baggage that burden far too many established organizations.

Going back to the third post in the list above, I’ve heard something like that from far too many technical communicators. Not just about LinkedIn, but about social networking and the like in general. For every technical communicator who blogs and podcasts, how many don’t? For every technical communicator who regularly uses a microblogging or social networking site, how many don’t? I’m sure that the number would surprise you as much as it would surprise me.

I could hammer out a lot of words trying to analyze why that is, but that’s not the point of this post. I’ve got a couple of questions for you:

  1. Are you a user of one or more social networking sites?
  2. If so, which ones?
  3. Why?
  4. If not, why not?

OK, that’s more than a couple. Even more than three of a perfect pair. I was never good with numbers, which is why I turned to writing …

But feel free to leave a comment with your answers.

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An interesting perspective on wiki use

After five months of trying (long story there), I finally managed to get to a session of Toronto Wiki Tuesdays. While I missed what sounded like a few interesting sessions in the past, the one I went to earlier this week was well worth sacrificing a few hours of my evening to attend.

This time around, the presenter was Keith Robinson, supervising editor at TV Ontario (TVO, the province’s public educational broadcaster). Robinson works on a daily public affairs show called The Agenda, and earlier this year the folks behind the show decided to do something a bit different: AgendaCamp.

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Using Twitter in your business

Twitter (and microblogging in general) is one of those activities that’s really polarizing. Legions of people love it — it’s blogging, with immediacy. Others despise it — it’s trivial and narcissistic, and just adds the the static of the Internet.

I sit somewhere in between. While I’m a fairly active microblogger, I tend to focus more on sharing information than telling people what I’m up to. Let’s face it, no one cares that I’m about to make some muffins for my daughter …

Still, many individuals and companies have used and do use Twitter as part of their business. Some use it for networking. Others use it for product announcements, to generate buzz, or to promote a blog post or speaking gig. Actually, there are a lot of ways that businesses can use Twitter.

That’s where this article (and this one) come in. They offer a total of 54 ideas that your company — even if it’s a company of one or two — can use Twitter for business. They even got a microblogging skeptic like me thinking!

Follow us on Twitter

twitter Yes, we succumbed to the siren song. Aaron’s been tweeting for a while, and Scott grudgingly did a Twitter experiment a while back. But a team Twitter feed? We figured why not give it a try …

But you can now follow us on Twitter here: We’ll be posting about tech comm, content, and related topics. While you shouldn’t expect us to be posting as frequently as Scott Abel, expect at least four or five tweets a day.

If you want to follow us outside of the strange confines of DMN Communications, you can catch Aaron at and Scott at