Paleolithic reading list for Jan-Feb 2015

With my lithic technology reading list nearly out of the way, I continue to (pardon the pun) go deep on the Paleolithic. I’m particularly fascinated by the Middle Paleolithic, dominated in Europe by the Mousterian lithic industry created by our Neanderthal cousins.

Nevertheless, my Paleolithic reading list remains fairly diverse.

I’m especially enjoying the first book in my list, a copy from 1878 that I spotted by chance and picked up for $4.00 at a used bookstore 25 years ago in Union Springs, NY. It’s a fascinating view into the state of paleoanthropology in the era when Darwin, Lyell, and Huxley were all still alive. It’s a fascinating book I plan to write more about soon…

Lithic technology reading list for Oct-Nov 2014

Perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic for the summer 20 years ago that I spent on a dig in Jordan, I’ve been doing a bit of self-directed reading lately focused on lithics.

Starting with the list of references in recent academic texts, I’ve sought out oft-cited, out-of-print books by mid-century archaeological luminaries.

And for a bit of extra fun, some light reading on the probable makers of Mousterian tools.

Lean Content Is Smart Content

Closing out my conference junket for 2014, I’m at Information Development World in sunny San Jose, California. Content reuse is not the only tactic you can apply as part of your content strategy to reduce cost and improve discoverability.

How often have you proudly described the great big manual or Help system you just finished writing to your fellow tech writers, your manager, or even potential employers? But how much of that bulk was really necessary? How do you decide when you have too much content? How do you decide which content stays and which lands in the archive? Applying metrics-driven lean content principles & practices as part of your content strategy can not only save you money on maintenance and localization, but more importantly it can make your content more discoverable and usable.

In this session, I’ll provide both strategic advice on how to decide whether you need to streamline your content, as well as practical suggestions about the tools and techniques you can use to make the streamlining process successful.

ABecraft_Streamlining_IDW_2014

EDIT: You can now see my full presentation on SlideShare.

Techniques for Maximizing Content Reuse

Kicking off the conference season for 2014 in Palm Springs, California, I’m back at another WritersUA. Taking advantage of my experience across all the major content development platforms over the past 20 years, I’m presenting about the various ways writers can improve the level of reuse in their content.

Text insets, conref elements, embedded topics, variables, tokens – no matter what technology you’re using to create your content, there’s a dizzying array of options available to you to enable reuse. With all that power and so many choices at your fingertips, you can quickly paint yourself into a corner. To truly take advantage of the potential cost savings and improved consistency that reuse offers, how do you decide which techniques to use for which types of content, and at what level in your information architecture?

Though I promise this will be technology agnostic, it’s inevitable that I’ll occasionally reference the software I’m responsible for designing, developing, and delivering.

ABecraft_Content-Strategy_Master

Good UI is Great UA – Eliminating Content as a Band-Aid for Bad Software

For my second presentation this week at WritersUA East 2013, I’ll be covering a topic especially near and dear to my heart.

There’s not much worse for a tech writer than having to come along behind poorly designed software to solve usability problems or prevent support incidents with your content. Worse, products often keep changing right up until the last second. What can you do to influence better UI so that you have to create less traditional forms of UA?

In this session, I explain why it’s so important to build relationships with the designers and developers creating the software “upstream” from a writer’s work on Help or manuals and how to ensure accurate content across all languages even when the UI continues to change.

ABecraft_UI-is-UA-2

The official word-hoard of Andrew Becraft