Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: April 2008 (Page 1 of 4)

Stars of Stage and Screen…

… and radio! Mary Laplante and I will be on the radio show this Thursday, discussing the upcoming Gilbane San Francisco conference. We’ll be on the air live for an hour starting at 4:00 Eastern, and will be discussing a wide range of topics about the conference, with some focus on the sessions I am coordinating. The host, Scott Draughon, is a great guy and really does an excellent job interviewing his guests on a wide variety of topics. Mary and I have done the show before (this time last year as well) and it was a pleasure. Be sure to tune in!

Percussion Adds Personalization to Percussion 2.0 Solution Series

Percussion Software introduced its Personalization Solution, the latest in its Percussion 2.0 Solution Series. Personalization is one of Percussion’s pre-packaged solutions to help organizations to create a more effective multi-channel web presence. With the Personalization Solution, organizations can create a “personal” messaging experience for their online audiences by tracking visitor behaviors and optimizing site presentation. The new Personalization Solution is meant to help enable organizations to deliver more effective online messaging and a more dynamic Web presence, with the stronger, richer personalization that encourages site visitors to be more engaged online, and more likely to become repeat visitors. Percussion’s approach to Personalization gives business users the ability to rapidly change both content and personalization without IT intervention.

Vignette Enhances Web Experience Platform

Vignette (NASDAQ: VIGN) announced significant enhancements to its Web Experience Platform foundation. Vignette’s integrated Web Experience Platform foundation is meant to help organizations quickly manage and deliver targeted content and facilitate user interaction and collaboration with the high performance and scalability required to support large-scale deployments. Vignette Content Management lets users streamline the creation and management of Web content and reduce bottlenecks associated with the delivery and publishing of that information. Enhanced features include friendly URLs to increase search engine site rankings, skip level upgrades to reduce the steps necessary to upgrade from older environments and integration with Vignette High-Performance Delivery (HPD). Vignette Portal allows business users to elevate their brand identity and engage in more personalized Web interactions with key audiences. New capabilities include integration with HPD and Vignette’s recently announced Community product line. Vignette Collaboration helps organizations drive productivity, improve knowledge management and more efficiently direct business processes that require interaction across disparate geographic and organizational boundaries. The latest release features new social computing capabilities including ratings, reviews, tagging and usage analysis. Additional enhancements include improved usability and performance and enhanced support for blogs, wikis and discussion forums. Collaboration also supports auditing and retention policies which enable organizations to more actively manage knowledge relative to compliance.

Marketbright Uses Social Media in New Offering to Enhance Customer Experience

Marketbright, an on-demand emarketing solution with an integrated web content management platform, launched Brightsite, a new product that uses aspects of social networking to create a stronger bond between sales, marketing and the customer. Brightsite creates the equivalent of a B2B shopping cart for enterprise web sites. Brightsite provides a plug-and-play membership management tool for any enterprise website. Brightsite also provides the customer with a member account page with links to all events and offers they have accessed in the past, their account team, and other account-specific information, creating an easy-to-access history for new team members. Customer members also can invite their colleagues into a private, shared collaborative space. The new, interactive and personalized widgets can be easily introduced into existing web sites. Brightsite also allows greater cooperation between sales and marketing teams, allowing a customer’s microsite to become a branding tool with enhanced collaboration opportunities and fresh content. With Brightsite, the marketing team will be able to blast new content, but it will look customized for the sales person’s named accounts. Sales personnel will be able to review beforehand to ensure appropriateness of offers/content, to block the content, or to put a personalized note and pick and choose which items get forwarded on to their customers.

Kindle Back in Stock

Amazon’s front page today is announcing that the Kindle is back in stock. They also provide a link to Jeff Bezos’ annual letter to Amazon shareholders, which is dedicated to his thoughts about the Kindle. Nothing earth shattering, though I do think he tries to get to the heart of the question about why someone would buy a Kindle when they already own both a Blackberry and a desktop or notebook computer. After the obligatory reference to Gutenberg, Bezos writes:
Lately, networked tools such as desktop computers, laptops, cell phones and PDAs have changed us too. They’ve shifted us more toward information snacking, and I would argue toward shorter attention spans. I value my BlackBerry–I’m convinced it makes me more productive–but I don’t want to read a three-hundred-page document on it. Nor do I want to read something hundreds of pages long on my desktop computer or my laptop. As I’ve already mentioned in this letter, people do more of what’s convenient and friction-free. If our tools make information snacking easier, we’ll shift more toward information snacking and away from long-form reading. Kindle is purpose-built for long-form reading. We hope Kindle and its successors may gradually and incrementally move us over years into a world with longer spans of attention, providing a counterbalance to the recent proliferation of info-snacking tools.
This is an interesting way to position Kindle or any eBook reader–the competition isn’t the other devices per se but the habits these other devices have accommodated. This is true, I suppose, but I still think that devices will emerge that support both kinds of information consumption–the short form and the long form. What’s missing in Kindle, interestingly, are some features that would make “information snacking” also possible–and useful. As David Guenette pointed out, the Kindle could have readily added MP3 support (“It has the ICs and jacks for playing MP3 files, but no playlist management, nor–absurdly enough, considering that Amazon is set up to sell things like music–any iTunes-like music downloading.”) Plus the idea of paying to read a blog that is otherwise free on the Web is just silly.
So we are still left with, as David calls it, the “additional device conundrum.” I have been using an eBook reader lately, and enjoying it, but there are limitations with that one and what I can read on it. I want to be able to read, at minimum, books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, general web sites, and a wide range of personal content including but not limited to Word, HTML, PDF, and XML formats. I want it to be brain-dead easy to download and access new content. As David points out, I also want multimedia. And I want a level of interactivity to include links, forms, and feedback. I want it to be cheap, powerful, and sturdy, and I want the reading experience to be superior to my notebook computer in terms of size, weight, portability, and readability. In other words, I want something like the Kindle in form factor that behaves much like a really good notebook computer.
Is that too much to ask?

Webinar Recording Available: Translation-oriented Authoring

Our April 16th webinar on translation-oriented authoring hosted by across Systems was an excellent 360 degree view of its value from a consultancy, language service provider, and end-user perspective. Thanks to Richard Sikes from LocFlowTech, Inc., Peter Argondizzo from Argo Translation, Inc., and Amy Karls from QuadTech for and a job well done! Access the recording here.

As Sikes noted in his opening remarks, decisions that get made in one part of an organization often show up as costs in another area. This is particularly true of translation and localization costs. Those who create and translate product content (user guides, operator manuals, quick start guides, online help, and the list goes on…) understand the downstream effect of decisions made under pressure all too well.

According to Karls, demand for multilingual product support content consistently is increasing, but timelines and resources are most assuredly not. Isolated story? We think not. Check out the webinar poll on the number of language outputs required from our audience, largely technical documentation folks.

Now check out the range of tools our audience is using to create product support content.

I believe there is not a single technical writer who intends to create inconsistencies or confusion for their translator counterparts. But stuff happens. Like “hurry up” pressure. Like “we lost our editor” pressure. Like “who’s got the latest version of the Style Guide pressure.”

According to Argondizzo, translation-oriented authoring has numerous advantages, among them:

  • Unlocks never before utilized value of translation memory database for writers
  • Strengthens partnership with language service provider and writers
  • Provides content creators with a different perspective of translation memory usage
  • Easy to understand and track savings
  • Time saved by author not rewriting text
  • Consistency for additional reuse in other channels
  • Regulatory concerns in rewriting text that already exists

I wholeheartedly agree. Check out the webinar recording. The advantages of “assistance” is demonstrable and impressive, whether one calls it authoring assistance, translation-oriented authoring, or controlled authoring.


I’ve been intrigued by MadCap Software and their aggressive push into the documentation tools space. We just got an in-depth series of presentations on their products, and I certainly came away impressed. Mary Laplante is quoted in a related article over at EContent Magazine.

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