15 Subway Maps Compared to Their Actual Geography «TwistedSifter

Reddit community ‘Data is Beautiful’ created a series of animations comparing subway maps to their actual geography

Source: 15 Subway Maps Compared to Their Actual Geography «TwistedSifter


I found this article thanks to my husband’s cousin, who is a world traveler and a map buff.  You should really take a look!

When I took Visual Design courses in grad school, this was an example of how user experience design can make a difference in helping users know how to use the subway–wherever it was. The original London Underground map that kicked it off (I believe it was them) was genius, because the creator realized that creating something that looked more like a grid than the actual geography would be easier for people to understand.  Obviously, this style of design was copied for other metro systems, and it’s been helpful for all these cities.  This article shows the differences between what the UX design maps are versus the real maps of the same metro lines. Fascinating!

What are some other great uses of UX design that don’t mimic the actual thing? Include your comments below.


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Why So Few Women Break Through Tech’s Bro Culture – Bloomberg

Silicon Valley prides itself on its progressive views on climate change, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and other cultural issues. Why does it have such trouble with gender equality?

Source: Why So Few Women Break Through Tech’s Bro Culture – Bloomberg

This is a very interesting article to read. Technical communications is probably considered a STEM-related field in that, for many, there are science, tech, and engineering aspects of their jobs.  It’s thought that women actually dominate this field more than men, although I don’t have the stats to back up that rumor–I know I’ve heard it. With the STC, the top leadership is definitely dominated by women, which is a good counterpoint to the rest of the STEM world.  But I do wonder if there are still pay discrepancies between male and female technical communicators, and whether there are still biases against female technical communicators in the STEM fields at large.  It seems to me that while technical communications may lead the way in gender equality, I don’t know of proof that this is, indeed, the case.  I wonder if it also affects different aspects of tech comm. For example, are there more male or female UX/UI designers and writers? Are there more female or male content strategists? How about API writers?

I don’t know the answers. I wish I did. I just know that where I am, and from my experience, women still have a ways to go, and thankfully, tech comm is one of the more progressive fields, from my view, in terms of gender equality–or at least making it a field much more so.

What do you think? Include your comments below.


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How These Remote Workers Convinced Their Bosses And Clients They Can Work From Anywhere

It actually took less effort than you might think—here’s why.

Source: How These Remote Workers Convinced Their Bosses And Clients They Can Work From Anywhere

This is an interesting article. They only interviewed three people, so I don’t think this is totally representative of the capabilities of remote workers.  I can completely understand the viewpoint of establishing yourself and making the face-to-face connections when possible.  It definitely helps in personalizing things. But what if you don’t have that kind of flexibility? One of the workers worked in the office for three months full-time, then part-time for another three, and only after six months were they able to establish that they could work effectively from home.  The problem with this is that those people who work far away from jobs (like me) can’t leave home for those kinds of long stretches.  I’ve never objected to going on the job interview, or spending a few days at the beginning of a gig for orientation and meeting people purposes, or even going into the office either once a month or a shortened day (due to commuting) once a week (depending on the job).

The biggest problem is what is said towards the end of the article–HR people and managers who have been burned or are nervous or are micromanagers tend to be the ones who can’t deal with remote work. A large segment of the kind of work that technical communicators create doesn’t require us being in the office all the time.  Most of the jobs I’ve had in the last five years were remote positions–some were remote purposely. Due to Skype, WebEx, email, Google chats, instant messaging, and oh yeah, the telephone, work still got done globally. I’d be talking to people in India, Germany, Canada, and around different parts of the U.S., as well as other parts of the world from time to time. It doesn’t matter if you are in the company office or your home office if you are making those connections.

There will come a time that, as one of my mentors told me one time, that companies in cities will realize that the best talent is not right by them, and it’s not going to move to them, so they need to start reaching out and finding the appropriate talent they need. By offering remote options–full-time remote options–they will start getting the best talent to work for them. They will not have to pay for much of the overhead that is needed to house people in an office. The work-life balance will be better for many workers who choose this option.

We still have a long way to go in realizing remote work as a viable option.

What do you think? Include your comments below.


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English is Dumb (VIDEO)

My husband, who is not a native English speaker (although he reads, writes, and speaks English better than some native speakers), always likes to poke fun at the English language every chance he can get. I suppose it’s because he still makes the occasional mistake now and then, and he knows I’ll correct him. 😉

Today, he sent me this little video.  Enjoy.

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Job Security Is Disappearing — What Does It Mean For You?

Job security is a thing of the past, and we are all entrepreneurs now whether we work for ourselves or someone else. Are you ready to navigate the new-millennium working world? Here are ten ways to get there!

Source: Job Security Is Disappearing — What Does It Mean For You?

This is an important article to read, especially as a technical communicator. I know that for me, the idea of a long term position and job security was gone by the time I got out of college almost thirty years ago.  Just as this article says, the idea of working in the same place for a long time is almost unheard of. I’ve never worked anywhere full-time for more than three years. (The next longest gig, that wasn’t a volunteer one, was two and a half years with a three month break, and then brought back on part-time for a couple hours here and there for the past year and a half. Not quite the same.)  I have been looking for a full-time technical communications position for MANY years. I have never known job security, so when I am unemployed or “between jobs”, I truly get restless and feel freaked out, because I know that you have to be able to grab whatever you can get in a fleeting moment. Full-time, employee positions are very rare, especially where I live. If you find a tech comm-related job, it’s practically a guarantee that it’s going to be some sort of contract job for short-term or long-term (long-term being a year or more). I’m aware of companies that have contractor policies that contractors can’t stay more than 18 months, so they’ll hire a person for 18 months, give the person a three month break, then rehire them–rinse, lather, repeat. The longest corporate limitation I’ve heard is three years.  On rare occasions, you do hear of contractors who have gone “temp to perm”, being hired as full employees. I’ve rarely seen that happen. I almost experienced it, but instead the company had layoffs just as they were about to bring me on full-time, and laid me off instead.

The point is that with tech comm work these days, a lot of it ends up being contract work, and unfortunately, most companies still haven’t figured out that tech comm people aren’t expendable. We are always needed for something. Just like the remote working issues, undercutting workers without some sort of job security is just…difficult.  This article talks in depth gives a few pointers on how to put it all in perspective.

What do you think? Do you think there’s still job security in tech comm? Include your comments below.


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IBM Just Committed Cultural and Creative Suicide | Inc.com

IBM has told its employees that they can’t work from home. The end of Big Blue is nigh.

Source: IBM Just Committed Cultural and Creative Suicide | Inc.com

Thanks to Larry Kunz for finding this appropriate follow-up to my last post about IBM discontinuing its practice of allowing remote work.  The author of this article sums it up much better than I could. Read this; all I have to respond to it is, “AMEN! EXACTLY!”

Yahoo and IBM have now set a bad precedence, and it has already started to affect Yahoo, as there is a current business rumor that both Yahoo and AOL are going to be acquired by Verizon.  Could it be that due to all the reasons listed in this article, Yahoo continued to decline? You be the judge.

What do you think of this article’s points? Include your comments below.


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IBM tells thousands of remote employees to come back to office or find new jobs | Ars Technica

While selling benefits of “telework” to others, IBM forces relocation in stealth layoff.

Source: IBM tells thousands of remote employees to come back to office or find new jobs | Ars Technica

Thanks to Cheri Mullins for posting this article on Facebook.

Reading this makes me angry. How is it that, first, Yahoo sets a precedence of not allowing employees to work remotely, and yet, it’s an internet service! Now, IBM, one of the oldest, largest, and most established companies in the world is now pulling the same crazy move? It’s a nasty move (I’m trying to avoid using profanity here), because there are probably a lot of really good workers who can’t find a job other than something like this in their areas.  I read the very last line of this article, and said, “Yeah, that’s me!” I’m one of those people who actually lives closer to New York City where SO many jobs are, but it’s a two-hour commute! And yes, with a family settled here and special education needs here in New Jersey, I cannot afford to move closer to New York. Even Northern New Jersey is much more expensive than where I live, and I live in a pricier area of New Jersey (Princeton Metro area).  Yet, New York City is where all the jobs are. We all can’t move to NYC or Silicon Valley, or some of the other major metropolises.

This is unfair to anyone who doesn’t live in a major city. There are LOTS of capable people who can do the job remotely, and there are lots of jobs that really can be done remotely. Need I remind people again that there’s email, telephones, instant messaging, and other connectivity programs like Skype, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Jabber…shall I go on? It’s OLD thinking that all work needs to be in an office. I hate working in an office. I get more done at home, I can concentrate better at home (cubicles and open office space are the worst), and I can connect to the world exactly the same ways globally as if I were in the office.

Major companies really, really, really need to get with the program. The future is now, and you need to learn how to work with it. Don’t go backwards.

What do you think? Include your comments below.


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