The cloud, mobile, and their impact on technical communication

Look into the future The way in which we compute has been changing over the last three or four years. In fact, I think I can safely say that what many people are doing now isn’t computing in the traditional sense of the word.

They’re accessing and using apps, whether on the Web or on mobile devices. The networks is becoming the computer for more and more people.

I won’t debate the merits and perils of going mobile and using the cloud, but things seem to be heading that way. Not just with smartphones and tablets, but also with hardware like Google’s CR-48 notebook and with operating systems like Jolicloud and Peppermint OS.

As Aaron and I, and a number of others, have been saying for a while, this move will have a profound impact on the way in which we do our work.

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Helping out

If you’ve been paying attention to this space for the last month or two, you’ve probably heard us talk about the Open Help Conference. Scheduled for June 3-5, 2011, the conference will bring together people who work on open source or community-based help and help tools.

We’re wondering if you can help promote the conference. If you have a blog or Web site and a bit of space that you’re willing to offer, then please consider posting the following image in that space:

And please link the image to If you can, leave a comment to let us know where the image has been posted.


Taking baby steps

Back in the mid to late 1990s, I didn’t have much money to buy new hardware. Actually, my computing was done on older desktops and laptops. Of course, that hardware wouldn’t run the latest versions of Windows (at least not too well) and I hadn’t started my journey to Linux just yet.

To cut down my computing costs and to keep my hardware alive just a little longer, I turned to an application suite called NewDeal Office. NewDeal was the latest incarnation of GEOS, a once-popular graphical operating environment.

For me, the applications in NewDeal Office were more than serviceable. But what impressed me was what I called the graded interface. I’m not sure if that’s the correct name for it, but the interface had five levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert, and custom. You can read more about it here.

Each level of interface builds on the last one, gradually increasing the complexity of the interface without overwhelming the user.

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Fit versus experience

Last month, I read an intriguing article at American Express OPEN Forum on hiring based on fit rather than experience. It’s an interesting idea and, in theory, should bring together people who mesh well. And, by extension, those people who are a good fit but lack experience can gain any experience they lack working with their team.

But, as I just wrote, it’s a good idea in theory. In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Here are a couple of Uncle Scotty’s little stories. Sit back, read, and ponder.

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