Month: October 2008

Information Visualization: A Look At U.S. Newspapers And Their Picks For President

This interactive map from the folks at 1000 Words is a collective representation of the endorsements made by US newspapers for the 2008 presidential candidates. As of the date of this posting, Senator Barack Obama (D) leads Senator John McCain (R) in the number of endorsements he has received from major newspapers. To view individual newspaper endorsements, click on the corresponding red or blue balloons. Use the zoom feature to target the papers you’re interested in viewing in markets in which multiple major papers exist. According to 1000 Words, the newspapers represented on the map were gathered from the 100 largest U.S. newspapers by circulation. In states where no newspaper ranks in the top 100, the paper with the highest daily circulation in the state—according to data provided from the Audit Bureau of Circulation was included. National newspapers like USA Today were not included. In some larger markets in which more than one major news outlet exists, multiple newspapers may be included Cities with more than one paper may overlap (i.e. The New York Times, New York Post, and Daily News). The creators of the map like to remind everyone that the map “is not an endorsement of any particular candidate” and that is will be updated to reflect new endorsements as they become...

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Eight Slides Explain DITA Topics, Maps, Specialization

From the DITA Newsletter: ”Download a zipped folder with eight explanatory slides that you can use to educate your tech pubs group about DITA. Feel free to use these in your own presentations on DITA. They combine ideas from some of the best slides in use over the past few years by DITA evangelists. Or listen to the 5-minute Flash tutorial that uses animated versions of these slides to describe the core functionality of...

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Content Reuse: Is It Harmful?

By Richard Hamilton, special to The Content Wrangler A place for everything and everything in its place—Isabella Mary Beeton, The Book of Household Management, 1861 For a number of years it has been a matter of faith that the more content a technical documentation team reuses, the more efficient they are presumed to be. Vasont Systems, a content management system (CMS) vendor, claims its users average 71% content reuse. That is a bold claim, but I suspect that if you could show even 30% or 40% content reuse, you would earn bonus brownie points with nearly any manager. But, are you really more efficient? Let’s take a deeper look. Terminology Duplication: You separately maintain more than one copy of some piece of content in source control or a Content Management System (CMS). If you keep two copies of a glossary definition in your source control system, that would be duplication. Reuse: You put the same piece of content into more than one deliverable in the same output medium. If you have just one copy of that glossary definition in source control, but include it in the printed versions of your Installation Guide and User’s Guide, that would be reuse. Single sourcing: You deliver the same piece of content via different media. If you deliver the Installation Guide in print and also on the web, that would be single sourcing....

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Effective Content Reuse: Storing Paragraphs, Not Topics, Is Key to Content Management Success

By Paul Trotter, CEO, Author-it Software Corporation Various reports have shown that knowledge workers spend about 30% of their time looking for content that has already been created.  If that sounds like a colossal waste of time and money, it is. But in terms of waste, time and money is only the tip of the iceberg.  The more pressing problem is that by continually creating corporate documents from scratch, companies run the risk of producing external and internal communications that are inconsistent in style, appearance, and – even worse – message.  The ramifications of these shortcomings can be disastrous, particularly with respect to industry-specific compliance issues. Consider a financial institution that generates vast amounts of investment offers for its customer base.  Disseminating the most up-to-date information quickly and accurately to end users is critical.  However, if a law is changed or the restrictions on an investment vehicle are revised, and the material reflecting these changes is either inaccurate or not distributed in a timely manner, an institution leaves itself vulnerable to potentially massive fines for non-compliance – perhaps even a litigious situation. Clearly, such examples, as well as less dramatic ones, highlight the need for content management within most organizations.  However, many of these entities are relying on content management systems (CMS’s) that are woefully insufficient or no systems at all!  Frankly, many organizations that are authoring and managing...

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Hiring Managers Say Content Found Online Affects Hiring Decisions

If you find yourself looking for a job, don’t be surprised that a Google search is now part of the screening process at many organizations. According to, 34% of hiring managers admit to searching the Internet for information about job candidates before making a decision whether to hire or not. 22% also say they review Facebook profiles. Practical advice for job-seekers: Perform a regular vanity search and cleanse your social networking profiles before you submit your resume. offer this practical advice for those who would like to avoid being disqualified for a position as a result of what’s published...

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