What Do You Need to Survive the 21st Century Workplace?

Heroic Technical Writing: Advice and Insights on the Business of Technical Communication

This topic was inspired by an online video chat by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, hosted on the Harvard Business Review’s Facebook page. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but he raised some interesting points. Aráoz shared a combination of traits that he thought would would be useful for staying employed in the future. These included:

  • Curiosity
  • Insight
  • Engagement
  • Determination
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Strong delivery
  • An ability to sell your skills
  • Being proactive

Curiosity is a good one because it’s a spur to keep learning about whatever you’re working on or whatever’s happening in the industry where you work. Insight can include seeing your work in a unique way and sharing what you know with others. Engagement of course means that you’re interacting often with your leaders, peers, subordinates, or customers regarding the work you’re doing. Determination comes up whenever you need to get your current work done or have to find the next role–you need…

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Standard Technical English (STE) Rules According to Star Wars

This is truly amazing!

Write Spot

A few months ago I wrote an introduction to Standard Technical English (STE). Check it out if you want to get a better idea of the history, uses, and benefits of STE.

The following article is a visually representation of the STE rules using Star Wars. I also included a high-level explaination of each rule.

  • Use STE approved words.
  • Make sure that you only use the approved forms of verbs and adjectives shown in the STE dictionary.
  • It is okay to use Technical Names not listed in the dictionary. Only use the Technical Name as a noun or adjective, never as a verb. If possible shorten Technical Names. However make sure that you are not using jargon or slang.
  • Be consistent. Once you decide on what to call something then continue to use that name and spelling.
  • Avoid abstractions. Meaning, use word that are specific. Do not leave the…

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Which Graphic Should You Use?

Heroic Technical Writing: Advice and Insights on the Business of Technical Communication

Data visualization is something they really should teach in high school–or maybe earlier–because we receive a lot of numerical information visually these days. This essay is a brief introduction to the topic.

Tables and charts are a relatively new tool for visually depicting numerical information. You could go back to Rene Descartes, who created the Cartesian (x-y) coordinate system in the early 1600s for graphing points, lines, and conic-section curves. The perpendicular axes have Western conventions for determining numerical values: specifically, points on the coordinate system increase in value from left to right and from bottom to top (ascending/increasing in value the closer up you get to pointing toward Heaven).

Moving ahead nearly 200 years, we encounter English clergyman Joseph Priestly and Scottish economist named William Playfair, who started the first concerted effort to make economic and other forms of information understandable to the general public. Priestly developed the timeline chart to depict overlapping…

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