VistaTalks Interview on Localization and Tech Comm Trends

October 22, 2018
The Language of Localization book cover

Vistatec recently interviewed me for their VistaTalks episodes. Each episode is an interview with an expert in localization. In my interview, we talked about The Language of Localization and some trends in technical communication and localization. You can watch the interview on the VistaTalk YouTube channel, or access the podcast version on the Vistatec website.

The interview is approximately 30 minutes.

Augmented Reality, STC, thought leaders, Virtual Reality

STC Intercom: Call for Articles, January 2019 Issue

September 25, 2018

I am working with Andrea Ames, the editor of Intercom, to gather contributors for the January 2019 issue.

Intercom is STC’s magazine for technical communication practitioners. The authoring guidelines are available from the STC website.

When submitting your query to Kit Brown-Hoekstra, guest editor, please include the following information:

  • Name
  • Job title and company
  • Contact information (email, phone, Twitter, time zone)
  • Proposed article title
  • Summary of article

Article Deadline: 10 November 2018

Theme: The Future of Tech Comm

For this issue, we are exploring the world of augmented and virtual reality. Articles should be 500-1500 words.

Augmented and Virtual Reality are poised to change how we interact with each other and our environment, including how we create, access, and use content. The success of these technologies depend on the quality of both the content itself and the underlying infrastructure that allows the content to appear, when, where, and in the format that the user requires. To be prepared, content and localization teams need new skills and strategies. Or, do they?

Potential Topics:

These are suggestions. If you have another idea, feel free to propose it.

Potential topics include:

  • Management of AR/VR projects
  • Information architecture that supports AR/VR
  • Ethics of AR/VR
  • Visual Taxonomies
  • Localization and AR/VR
  • Skills Needed to Develop AR/VR
  • Criteria and special considerations for AR/VR projects
  • GIS and other geospatial integration
  • Standards

Some questions you can answer with your article:

  • What skills do technical communicators need to develop content for AR/AR applications? What skills do they currently have that they can leverage?
  • What ethical implications do these technologies pose for content development?
  • What needs to change with the way we structure content so that we can better support AR/VR? What works now?
  • Is this technology just another output format? Why or why not?
  • What are the information architecture and usability implications/opportunities for AR/VR?
  • How can we improve the visual taxonomies to better support AR/VR?
  •  Are current structured authoring architectures sufficient to support AR/VR? Why or why not?
  • What are the content management considerations and implications?
  • How does localization fit into AR/VR, and what are the process implications for successful implementation?
  • What aspects of GIS and other geospatial systems can we take advantage of for structuring AR/VR content?
  • When preparing for a project, what special considerations do managers need to think about with AR/VR?
  • What criteria do you use when choosing a project for AR/VR?
books, localization

Book Release: The Language of Localization

August 7, 2018

The Language of Localization book cover

Back in November, XML Press released The Language of Localization, a book of essays about localization terms that I edited. This book is part of The Language of… series that Scott Abel (Content Wrangler) started as an example of multi-channel publishing. I am deeply grateful for the contributions of the 52 localization experts who provided content.

The book was created using a wiki that had DITA under the hood. Using this approach, we could produce a book, a website, and a deck of cards (or other outputs we create templates for).

Shortly after publication, Vistatec interviewed me for their corporate magazine, VTQ (see page 48). We talked about trends in localization and tips for managing multicultural virtual teams.

You can find the book on XMLPress.com, on Amazon.com, and on BarnesandNoble.com.


inspiration, mentoring

The Importance of Being Kind

October 9, 2017

“Is it true; is it kind, or is it necessary?” –Socrates

These days, everyone seems out of sorts—cranky, irritable, stressed out, and sometimes downright mean. We say or do things that we later regret, but can’t take back. We add to other people’s stress with our impatience. We infect those around us with our bad moods.

It’s time to take a deep breath and a step back, and remind ourselves that we are only minor characters in other people’s stories. We have no idea what tragedy lurks behind the social veneer, what hurting heart hides behind that display of bravado or anger as we rush through our days and scroll through our social media. We compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides, never really knowing or understanding the people around us.

Let’s instead infect people with kindness and compassion, rather than responding or escalating when someone is being ugly or cranky. Pausing before reacting to ask ourselves, “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” and, unless we can answer YES to all three, choosing to say nothing.

Is it true?

Can what you want to say be independently verified? Have you checked your facts? Made sure you understand the full story? Are there other interpretations that are equally valid?

Before saying something critical or giving constructive feedback, especially in an emotional situation, try asking questions.

Before reacting to the other person’s emotions or comments, ask how they might be right, even if they expressed their view in a less-than-helpful manner. Avoid injecting your own negative emotions into your response. (Sometimes, the best response is no response.)

Is it kind?

Does what you want to say serve the greater good? Can you say it in a way that gives the other person room to grow without damaging their psyche or your relationship? Are your motivations pure? Will what you say be with the highest and best intention for yourself and the other people involved? Did the other person ask for your advice or feedback? How would you feel if someone else gave you that feedback?

Actively seek out positive traits, actions, communication. Give specifics when complimenting someone. For example, “I loved your talk,” is nice, but less helpful than, “You did a great job of keeping me engaged by having visually interesting slides that reinforced your points, and a compelling story that got me excited about your topic.”

Be both honest and compassionate when giving feedback. For example, “your presentation sucked,” might be honest, but is definitely not helpful or kind. Instead, you could say, “It would improve your presentation if you had a more clear agenda, made your slides less busy, and narrowed your topic to 2-3 clear takeaways.”

Is it necessary?

Will someone be harmed if you don’t say anything? Conversely, would it make someone’s day if you do say it? Does the other person need the feedback in order to grow, or in order to understand the consequences of their behavior? Does it facilitate a good relationship with the other person? Are you presenting the feedback professionally, or are you injecting your own emotions into the situation?

In the case of injustice, we have a moral and ethical obligation to speak up and, if it is within our power to do so, to protect the victim from further abuse. We can do this without hating the haters, and without being violent or ugly ourselves. Responding to ugliness with more ugliness, while sometimes cathartic, only escalates the situation and damages us in ways we might not recover from. It takes creativity and courage to respond with compassionate honesty (“loving kindness” as the Dalai Lama puts it).

Despite the poor examples being shown by many public figures, it IS possible to disagree without being ugly about it. It is possible to provide necessary, honest feedback in a way that is also kind and compassionate. In fact, it is often more effective to do so. When you are angry and ugly when giving feedback, it immediately makes the other person defensive, even if that feedback is true. They can’t hear your valid concern if it’s wrapped in negativity or general ugliness.

Let’s go forth and be kind.

global communication, localization, thought leaders

The Language of Localization: Seeking Contributors

June 26, 2017

Thanks to Richard Hamilton of XML Press for providing the instructions.

I’m working with Scott Abel and Richard Hamilton on another contribution to the Content Wrangler’s Language of… series. The team believes that “agreeing on a shared vocabulary for any discipline provides a starting place for a common understanding of that discipline for its practitioners.”

The Language of Localization collects the wisdom of 52 experts, each of whom will contribute one term that all localization practitioners should know and understand. It will be published as a book, a website, and a deck of cards. We plan to release the book in time for LocWorld Silicon Valley (1-3 November 2017).

We are still seeking contributors for the following terms:

  • Script
  • Bitext
  • Character Encoding
  • Character Set
  • Desktop Publishing (DTP)
  • Ethnography
  • Interoperability
  • Leverage
  • Post editing
  • Primary Market
  • SRX
  • TMX
  • Unicode

Contributing is easy and won’t take a lot of your time. In return, you will receive 2 free copies of the book as a thank you for participating.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Tell us which term you want to work on.
  2. Sign the author agreement with XML Press.
  3. Provide a 150 x 150 pixel head shot as a JPG and 50-word bio.
  4. Help us craft a dictionary-style definition of the term, accompanied by a short statement that explains why the term is important.
  5. Create a short (250-word) essay that answers the question, “Why does a localization professional need to know this term?”
  6. Moderate the comments section on a blog post dedicated to your term. Each term will be featured on a companion website after the print and eBook versions are published.

The Language of Technical Communication came out Q2 2016 and is a good example of how this project will look when it’s done.