Music is the ultimate single-sourcing resource

A few years ago, I wrote an article for someone else about how music was used in remixes and mashups, but it never got published. Even so, I was reminded of how music has a lot of reuse due to two events that happened to me over this past weekend.

First, I went to a concert given by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. The pieces that were played were Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Beethoven’s Ninth “Choral” Symphony. About an hour before the concert, the maestro/conductor held a little talk about the pieces, giving some history and other notes about the pieces. He mentioned that both pieces were reflections of the times, in that the music reflected the turmoil that was going on in Europe during the early 19th century. But what also struck me–and what I listened for–was the reuse of music to reflect some of the action or feelings of the time. In the 1812 Overture, for example, they played the original Russian version, which begins with a Russian Orthodox chant. Later, you hear the French National Anthem several times repeated over and over to reflect Russian and French forces at odds. Beethoven also used bits of well-known (at the time) country songs that were reflected in each movement.

Second, I started to watch an excellent program on television about the Beatles. It was on very late, and my husband and I–who are big Beatles fans–got drawn in, but had to turn it off as we needed to get to sleep. But when we did see was fascinating, and it put an interesting spin on their music. The episode was concentrating on how revolutionary the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was. It was the first time any musicians purposely made a studio album that wasn’t meant to be played for touring. This allowed the Beatles a lot of freedom to experiment with sounds that were either repurposes or found a new place. Sometimes it was the instrumentation that was new; sometimes it was the hybridization of two or more different styles. The one piece that they broke apart that captured my attention was “Penny Lane”. “Penny Lane” is about observations around the area where Paul McCartney and John Lennon grew up. Musically, it captured the old vaudeville sound yet at the same time had a pop/rock sound to it, with overtones of baroque as well. The final track included 4 separate tracks of piano, and a host of other instruments like a special piccolo trumpet (I think that’s what it was called, but correct me if I’m wrong), which wasn’t an instrument used often in modern pop music! Another example, although not part of the album but part of the recording period, is “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Did you ever think that the vocal track sounded a little weird, even though it worked? That’s because the main music background track was made on one day at one speed, and the voice was recorded at a different speed on a different day. John Lennon wanted to use both tracks, but they didn’t synchronize well. Because the technology wasn’t there electronically like it is now, sound engineers had to figure out how to change the variable speed on both recordings so that they could get them to synch. That sort of thing didn’t exist until then! Fascinating stuff.

So what does this have to do with content strategy? Everything. Here’s why.

A big part of content strategy is knowing what to keep and what not to keep. Content strategists are always promoting reuse of content to be used in new ways. By mixing and matching content appropriately, you can get a hybrid that is something new and unique to itself. Nowadays, copyright laws can get in the ways, but if they are heeded appropriately, something new and wonderful can be produced. The music world really started to notice when rap and hip-hop started sampling and reusing music, a practice that’s still used today for new music, remixes, and mashups.

What do you think? Did musicians have this figured out well before writers by almost 200 years? Include your comments below.

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Remote Workers vs. Office Workers | LinkedIn

To me, there is no debate for bright people who want more control over how and where they work. Remote workers win every time. And the statistics prove it.

Source: Remote Workers vs. Office Workers | LinkedIn

My STC-PMC friend, Ellen O’Brien found this on LinkedIn. This is a great article that I think not only speaks towards the benefits of why remote working CAN work and why more companies should be using remote options, but in my mind, it also supports why this is a very good option for technical communicators.

I keep hearing that “remote” is “in”, and that more remote jobs are becoming available. To be honest, I haven’t seen it at all. If anything, when I even suggest to some companies that I am available and ask if I can work remotely, the answer is usually a flat out NO.  This makes it really difficult for people who are not in a position to relocate for a closer commute, yet the jobs are far away. (Yes, I put myself in that category.)

My argument has been the same as outlined in this article, in which the author, Brian de Haaff, says he’s been asked, (and I quote directly from the article,)

  • “How do you collaborate with the team?”
  • “What tools do you use to stay connected?”
  • “When will you really need an office?”

The answers he provides are pretty much the same answers I would give from my own experiences. I wish employers would get the hint. They could save SO much money allowing for more remote work, and get better productivity from their employees and contractors.

What do you think? Yes, I know some of you are diehard office workers who want to be close by to your co-workers. Some jobs do require that–I’m not denying that. But most technical communications jobs don’t require that necessarily. Read the article, and tell me what you think after reading it.


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7 eLearning Experts Share Tips on How to Choose the Best Learning Management System

Here are best practices from eLearning experts on how to choose the best LMS platform that would help business owners make the best eLearning decisions .

Source: 7 eLearning Experts Share Tips on How to Choose the Best Learning Management System

I find that for those who have to either choose an LMS or a CMS, they often don’t choose…wisely. Oh, some do, but others don’t think it all the way through.

Fortunately, this article can help those who are searching out the best LMS for them, at least. My friend, Joe Ganci, who is one of the leading e-learning experts out there, is one of the people in this article. His advice, as well as the advice of the other experts, give a great summary of things that one should consider carefully when choosing an LMS. There are so many choices, but the advice in this article helps you figure out how to narrow down your choices.


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Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots in Technical Communication – A Primer – How to Create and Deliver

Source: Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots in Technical Communication – A Primer – How to Create and Deliver

Ellis Pratt wrote this excellent article and primer for writing for chatbots that’s worth the read.

Ellis has pointed out correctly that chatbots and other forms of AI (artificial intelligence) is starting to emerge, and as technical writers, we need to be aware of how to write for these outlets. Having skills in writing manuals and help screens, some of the foundational skills should be easy or somewhat second-nature, but he has several tips in the article on how to frame that thinking for chatbots.

I share this because it’s a reference source that I plan to use if I should get the opportunity to do this kind of writing in the near future.  Ellis is very good at what he does, so this resource is a must-read.


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Adobe DITA World 2017 – Adobe DITA World 2017 – The DITA Online Conference | Adobe Events

3 days. 21 sessions. Tune in to the world’s biggest DITA Event, October 10–12, 2017.

Source: Adobe DITA World 2017 – Adobe DITA World 2017 – The DITA Online Conference | Adobe Events

Adobe is sponsoring the biggest DITA event ever, and the best things about it are that it’s FREE, it’s VIRTUAL, and the some of the world’s leading technical communicators who are tops when it comes to DITA will be giving keynotes and presentations.  How can you pass this up?

Adobe has created some great products that work using DITA practices, especially with FrameMaker, which is one of the biggest industry standard tools to write DITA content. Looking at the line-up of speakers, I know that attendees are going to get some fantastic insights, as I’ve been learning from many of these people myself over the years.

You can register for the event by either choosing the Source link above, or going to

Disclaimer: Adobe is a sponsor of this blog. Even so, I am an equal opportunity blog, and try to allow as many products and viewpoints on here. If I see a great event coming up, I’m going to advertise it, and this one looks particularly good.

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Same mess different tools with Liz Fraley – Content Content episode 19 – Ed Marsh

Elizabeth Fraley runs Single-Sourcing Solutions in Sunnyvale, Ca. We geek out about the history of structured authoring, how her opinions have changed in 17 years of technical writing, and how many books a year are too many to read. Mentioned in this episode: Single Sourcing social media and public projects TC Camp TC Dojo Liz’s … Continue reading Same mess different tools with Liz Fraley – Content Content episode 19 →

Source: Same mess different tools with Liz Fraley – Content Content episode 19 – Ed Marsh

I’m excited about this particular ContentContent podcast. Liz is a friend and mentor of mine. Along with running her company, and TC Camp, she also runs the TC Dojo and a group that I’m in, the TC Conclave. Liz and her business partner, Janice Summers, work with other technical communicators who are consultants and trying to grow their businesses. (In my case, I’ve been trying to get mine up and running.) The members are all at different stages of our business, so we benefit from each other.

Liz is a really smart cookie, and I’m amazed that she can get all this done, plus write books, too! She’s also a fun person, even when talking about tech comm. Take a listen!

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Professor TechCommGeekMom? Not quite…

Professor McGonagall

Professor McGonagall, I’m not. But, I am an instructor, so that’s a start.

I’m about to start into a new adventure. In a sense, I’m entering the “family business”, as my father implied when I told him the news. It’s certainly going to be a new adventure, for sure.

As of yesterday, I’ve been hired to be an adjunct instructor at my alma mater, the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I’ll be working in the Humanities department, specifically working in the graduate program for the Master of Science in Professional and Technical Communications (MSPTC), which is the program I went through to get my Master’s degree. Ironically enough, I’ll be teaching the course that started TechCommGeekMom, which is the Theory and Practice of Social Media.  The official course description reads:

Introduces social media strategies for reading and writing in today’s multi-cultural, screen-oriented, networked culture. Students study relationship between mediated communication and human community and gain hands-on experience with chatting, blogging, tagging, wiki writing, tweeting and social media presentation. Students strategize, plan, design and produce social media projects of their own.

I remember it being an enjoyable class, or at least, I enjoyed it. I’m planning on using the current curriculum as a template, but adding a few extra things to it, like talking about the impact of social media marketing, and how it is impacting current events (that latter part I’ll have to do carefully).

To clarify, I’m not a PhD, nor do I pretend to be one. But this is a great opportunity that NJIT is giving me, with the potential to be teaching more and helping to grow the program.  I’m excited, and understandably anxious about this new adventure. But it holds some promise–even as a part-time gig.  I’m looking forward to sharing concepts and ideas with my students, and the conversations we’ll have.

But don’t call me professor…I’m an adjunct instructor. Mrs. Villegas or Danielle is fine. 😉

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