After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Analogies for Good Content – It’s Smooth, for One

Posted on October 28, 2013
Filed Under Communication, Technology, The Writing Life | 2 Comments

Okay, need an excuse for being an orderly writer? You shouldn’t, but if you do, look at it from the viewpoint of the content you’re working with. Oh really?

etw.vinishgarg.content.emotionalneeds.patchworkWell, that’s what a writer named Vinish Garg suggests you do in a post on the Enjoy Technical Writing (ETW) blog. Content, he feels, doesn’t like to be jostled around, or crammed into any place it seems it might fit. It seems to have bearings, real emotional needs, of its own. Garg uses analogies with a parking lot, a poorly patched road and a merge lane on a highway. The one we like best, that seems to fit best, is the poorly patched road.

Content that doesn’t fit well, that doesn’t really belong in the place a careless writer put it, is like adding another sloppy patch to a poorly patched road. It’s not smooth, but bumpy. It causes the reader to wonder, “Does this make sense? Is it really correct? Does this really belong here?” And you don’t want to slow too much a driver whose main interest is breezing his way to understanding, or at least steering smoothly through a difficult patch. Readers, obviously, don’t like detours, roadblocks, or too many bumpy spots.

That’s not to agree that content has a mind, or intent, of its own, as Vinish Garg evidently feels, only that the reader does. He or she wants content that makes sense without too much steering. Good writing isn’t a game of bumper cars. – Doug Bedell

A Truly Challenging Electric Power Outlook

Posted on October 14, 2013
Filed Under Business, Government, Technology | Leave a Comment

You’ve got to wonder how widely the world will be wired for electricity in the not-so-distant future, say, 2050, and how we’re going to get there. A post on the site discusses that outlook as its being envisioned at the World Energy Congress being held this week in Daegu, South Korea. It refers, in the process, to some humbling, if not scary, figures.

uaeofficialsWriter Frederic Pouchot reports that population growth and accelerating urbanization are going to present the world with “a host of challenges” in the decades ahead. Indeed. A report issued by the World Energy Council (WEC) at the congress presented two energy scenarios – dubbed “Jazz” and “Symphony” – for the next four decades.

Under the market-driven Jazz scenario, “total primary energy supply could increase by 61 percent by 2050.” The government-led Symphony scenario “–focused on environmental sustainability and energy security–envisages an increase of 27 percent.” Both are big numbers, though the market-based projection sounds colossal. Ominously, both scenarios envision “CO2 emissions well-beyond the target levels deemed necessary to meeting the UN-set target of limiting global warming to 2 C (3.6F) over pre-industrial levels.”

The thing is, Pouchot notes, while both projections are, or should be, humbling, neither would be sufficient to meet the needs of a world population expected to grow to nine billion people, from seven billion today. And they’ll all be aspiring for prosperous lives.

We’re only providing a lead-in here. The WEC report itself is well worth your direct attention. But consider a figure between $19 trillion and $25 trillion–that’s what “the required investment in electricity generation alone” will be to meet 2050’s demand levels.

There’s so much for the world to be concentrating on, so many challenges to be met, as the relatively short-term future unfolds. Do you think we can get ourselves together to handle them? We can only hope and wonder at the same time. – Doug Bedell 

(Photo – A solar power plant on the outskirts of Abu Dhbai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates in March of this year.) 

Pinterest for Tech Writers? You Bet!

Posted on October 1, 2013
Filed Under Business, Communication, Technology | Leave a Comment

It might seem counterintuitive to link Pinterest – the pinboard Web app you tend to associate with garden parties and interior decorating – with technical writing. But that’s wrong. Witness the marvelous job Ugur Akinci has done on Pinterest with his technical writing pinboard.  In addition to being a Fortune 100 technical writer, Ugur  is an online course designer, a lover of Bossa Nova, running, singing in harmony, positive thinking and meditation. A real renaissance man in a Web setting!

imgresUgur has a couple of dozen other pinboards besides the one on technical writing. Pinterest ought to be using him as a demonstration of the range of its engaging technology. Everything from Films of Cary Grant tp Technical Communication. And Ugur keeps on servicing them all; he seems particularly in love with Hawaii.

We wonder how today’s Web men and women have time for all the surfing, designing and posting they do, and still maintain their sponsoring discipline, in this case technical writing. It’s an expressive medium, to be sure, but there’s usually not a copydesk rimmed with green-eyeshaded proofreader/headline writers to help with it. We note that Ugur is a PhD, which doubtless has something to do with his capacity for productive creativity. A lot of it has to do with thinking through your aims and concepts beforehand.

Anyhow, Pinterest is a delightful means of portraying your interests on the Web, and thereby doing yourself – whether you’re a technical writer, sprinter or a homemaker – a celebratory service. – Doug Bedell

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