Saturday, January 30, 2010

validation and coincidence

So I'm sitting here this morning working through Spilka when I get the following email (extensively abbreviated to remove the soft-marketing) from Joann Hackos' company, Comtech:

Oh! The Changes We’ve Seen! Comtech celebrates our 30th anniversary!

As of February 2010, Comtech Services, Inc. will be officially 30 years old. We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the changes we have witnessed in technical communication over 30 years. Perhaps the technology changes have been the most dramatic.

After we incorporated, we did a lot of writing with pen and paper. The first major word processor was a DEC dedicated machine handled by our word-processing operator. She transferred handwriting to word processing. The results were printed on a line printer so that the text looked pretty much like a typewriter.

Today, we use more complex technology than ever before. We have more than one content management system installed. We use one to manage our websites and others to emulate customer environments so that we can help them solve problems and test new functionality. More of our authoring is now in XML and DITA, even though we have not written manuals since the mid-90s. We do produce electronic and print newsletters, proposals, reports, and marketing materials, all requiring good design and ease of authoring.

The basic concepts of information development have changed very little while the technology has marched on. Today we can produce much better documents more easily and less expensively than any time in the past. But the quality of the information is still dependent on our understanding of our customers and how they learn. Without that, we will continue simply to make the product specifications look nice.

Kristi Bullard
Kristi L. Bullard, Business Manager
Comtech Services, Inc.

How's that for an indirect book plug Professor Spilka?

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