Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened?

A great bot can be about as useful as an average app. When it comes to rich, sophisticated, multi-layered apps, there’s no competition. Today’s most successful bot experiences take a hybrid approach, incorporating chat into a broader strategy that encompasses more traditional elements.

Source: Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened?

This is a great article that was originally shared on STC San Diego’s Facebook page.

One of the things that often irritates me is that you go to a conference or attend a webinar, and you hear about the latest and greatest technology, and understandably, one gets mixed feelings about hearing about new technology (at least I do). On one hand, you are excited to hear about the latest innovations, and see how new technology has the potential to change things in great ways. On the other hand, it’s new, and it’s scary, and sometimes it’s complicated or deep. Add to that, the possibility of using that technology, for most of us, is still far away because our place of work is still not even to the standards of what’s available today (Windows 8, anyone?)

This article, while a little long, is worth the read, because it talks about those cycles of how new tech or concepts gets adopted, and also shows some great examples of why we shouldn’t fret, because sometimes the technology isn’t there yet.

As technical communicators, the idea of chat bots and AI has been shoved down our throats for the past year or so, much in the same way that content marketing had been for several years before that.  While technical communicators are definitely the people who should pay attention to chat bots, because they have the skills that can lend to making AI a more useable experience, most companies are not there yet, or are–again–forcing something that isn’t ready or sophisticated yet before its time. This article shows that clearly.

We can most definitely be part of technological advances going forward, but more often than not, where we work is not caught up with yesterday’s tech still. While we can help get things caught up, I don’t think the pressure that the industry is putting is necessary. Yes, we should be ready, but it’s not today. It might not even be tomorrow.  Getting panicked about writing for chatbots and such to create natural language and great user experiences are something we should think about now, but most of us are still trying to get our employers or clients to understand how to use social media (and that’s been out for more than ten years already).  Don’t get me wrong–technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, and we should definitely do our best to try to keep up with it or at least be knowledgeable about it.  But we really aren’t ready for it, and that’s okay. We’ll get there. There’s no rush. Better to do it right than winging it and hoping it will work okay.

What do you think of this article? Do you think the push is too hard, or it’s appropriate? Include your comments below.

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Writing for chatbots – Microsoft Style Guide | Microsoft Docs

Source: Writing for chatbots – Microsoft Style Guide | Microsoft Docs

Thanks to Johanne Lavallee for sharing this on LinkedIn.

There are a few good pointers in here as we start looking towards the future, and from none other than one of the big sources, Microsoft.  So much of the advice here is just good technical writing, after all. Plain language, and clear and concise writing is important all the time!

What do you think of these guidelines? Did Microsoft miss anything? Include your thoughts below.



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White House: Retired teacher fixed Trump’s letter about gun policy and sent it back. – The Washington Post

“If I had received this from one of my students,” Yvonne Mason said, “I would have handed it back without a grade on it and said, ‘I hope you left the real one at home.’ ”

Source: White House: Retired teacher fixed Trump’s an letter about gun policy and sent it back. – The Washington Post

This isn’t another political statement, but rather an amusing story that I can relate to easily.  I keep hearing arguments from some that language is always evolving, and while it’s true, good grammar doesn’t change as quickly. After at least a thousand years of English evolution, grammar is pretty much stable, I’d say, these days. And you would think that those at the highest echelons of the U.S. government would understand the basics, at least.


So, to see this English teacher not only send the letter back with corrections, but also the reference to a government plain-language site just thrills me.

I found out that I will be teaching another class in the fall at NJIT’s MSPTC program, and it touches on this topic–proper grammar and editing. So you can guess that lately, I’ve been digging into grammar texts and such with a little more vigor than I have in a while, and enjoying the process.  So to see this example–well, it might be used in class in the fall. 🙂

What do you think? Should the government–especially high offices–be held accountable for their use of grammar and how they use language? Include your comments below.


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My Grammar Pet Peeve: The Apostrophe Crisis | Thrive Global

The phenomenon is spreading so rapidly, it’s practically an apostrodemic.

Source: My Grammar Pet Peeve: The Apostrophe Crisis | Thrive Global

YES, YES, YES! Arianna Huffington–THANK YOU.  In addition to my huge issues with people not using adverbs correctly–or at all–anymore, this is another thing that shouldn’t be a pet peeve. It’s just plain sloppy!

Listen, any good editor should be able to know the difference and pick up when apostrophes are misused.  This is stuff you learn in third grades! Seriously!

Read this article, and tell me what you think. Ms. Huffington is totally on point with this article, and as technical communicators–especially those of us who write and edit all the time, we should be working hard to prevent this abuse of grammar from happening! It’s getting worse!

What do you think? Is this just “language evolution” or laziness on the part of writers and editors who overly rely on “autocorrect” to write content? Include your comments below.


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Lifehacks for Technical Writers | Technical Writing Blog

Source: Lifehacks for Technical Writers | Technical Writing Blog

While I’m not familiar with the company or products for ClickHelp, these were some great tips and reminders for technical writers to help with the writing process and keep the creative brain activity flowing!  I can say with the first one, I only do halfway, as my physical desk is always a wreck (supposedly the sign of intelligence), but my digital workspace is always clean and organized. I’m a stickler for that, just to keep track of everything!

Do you agree that these life hacks are helpful? Do you have any to add? Include your thoughts in the comments below.


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Klout, the scoring system for social media influence, is shutting down – Business Insider

It’s the end of an era, as Klout, the service that measures your social cred, is shutting down.

Source: Klout, the scoring system for social media influence, is shutting down – Business Insider

Wow. A few years ago, it was a very big deal to have a high Klout score. For a while, I worked at it, but after a while, it didn’t seem like it was worth the effort. I think with the evolution of social media, over time, there were too many influencers to really put one person at the top. Klout didn’t measure quality, but rather quantity, from what I remember. So, this might actually be a good thing (except for those working at Klout and those who invested in it.)

(Out of curiosity, since I never deleted the account, I looked at my Klout score. It was a 51 right now, but I think in the past it had been a little higher. Even so, it said that I was also in the top 0.2% of people talking about Content Marketing, top 0.1% of people talking about Content Strategy, top 0.1% of people talking about Online Learning, and top 0.1% of people talking about Technical Writing. Who knew? And that’s even considering that I don’t blog as much as I used to. I guess that’s not too bad as things are waning.)

What do you think? Is this a good thing that Klout is going down, or a bad thing? I think it’s actually good. Include your comments below.


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The STC-PMC Election of 2018: Results

The results are in, and we’d like to give a thank you to everyone who nominated themselves and others, our nominees, and all who voted. The results our in, and we’d love for you to meet…

Source: The STC-PMC Election of 2018: Results

This is very exciting! I’m moving up the ranks! It’s been a challenging but rewarding last two years as the Vice-President of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of the STC. And now, I’m honored to be elected President! Our outgoing President, Tim Esposito, has done a great job the last two years, and has been (and will continue to be) a great mentor in leadership. I have a big task in keeping up the momentum, as during his tenure, the chapter won two Platinum awards and two Pacesetter Awards from the STC. No pressure, right? But I’m looking forward to being the new President of this fabulous chapter, and working with a fantastic new team.

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