How much prior knowledge should we expect or assume?

That can be a tough question. But it can also have more than one branch. But it’s definitely a question that technical communicators need to ask when documenting any piece of software or hardware.

One of those branches is knowledge of the underlying platform. I’m not talking about being familiar with, say, Win32 or Linux internals or hardware addressing. But does the person using an application or device know how to:

  • Install supplementary software (for example, Adobe AIR) or hardware (for example, a memory card)
  • Navigate around an operating system or device
  • Perform basic operations and carry out basic tasks

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Thoughts on DocTrain

Yesterday, Scott Abel posted that PubsNet (the company behind the DocTrain conference series) was closing up shop and that DocTrain was no more. Let’s just say that this was a bit of a surprise, and it really saddened me. Sure, it’s a sign of the current economic times but that doesn’t make it any easier.

If you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, you know that over the last few years Aaron and I have been fairly regular participants at DocTrain. We’ve spoken together at DocTrain West twice, participated in a panel another time, and I presented solo at DocTrain East last year. DocTrain was good to us while it lasted.

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Semantic wikis at AutoDesk

Toronto Wiki Tuesdays is back, tomorrow (May 19th) in fact. This time around Michiel Duvekot, Global Technical Lead for Maya Product Support at AutoDesk, will be presenting. His talk will be on how AutoDesk uses semantic wikis to capture knowledge for customer support.

If you’re a wiki enthusiast in the Toronto area, or just want to learn about how one firm is using wikis to capture knowledge, then this is definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Tuesday evening. If you want to attend, you’ll have to join the Toronto Wiki Tuesdays group at

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. The universe has once again pointed the you-know-what-with-me gun in my direction and my Tuesdays are filled until August.