Take That, AP Style! Court of Law Rules The Oxford Comma Necessary

Who cares about the Oxford comma? That’s a $10 million question.

Source: Take That, AP Style! Court of Law Rules The Oxford Comma Necessary 

Evidently, those of us who are grammar snobs, or the grammar police, as some might say, are right after all! This is good news for editors and writers everywhere who insisted that the Oxford comma was needed.

Now, if we can just get Microsoft on board with this for Word and other Office 365 products, that would be great. Office 365 continually tries to point out that my Oxford commas are grammatical mistakes when I know they are not.

What do you think about this decision? Include your comments below.

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2019: A Great Year For Tech Pros Over 50 Years Old?

Over 50 and working in tech? 2019 might be a pivotal year for you. First, some not-so-great news: The average tech salary has continued its plateau,

Source: 2019: A Great Year For Tech Pros Over 50 Years Old?

As a person who just passed the half-century mark this past year (I would rather still be forty-something, thank you), this is encouraging news.  One of the things I already struggle with–and I know other people who are near my age or have a few extra years than I do–is getting what’s fair. The market is already fickle due to ageism, but it’s also fickle as employers do what they can to keep older applicants at bay through attempts to underpay and limit us to contract work. (Maybe that’s just our industry, I’m not sure. Just basing this on my own experiences.)  So, let’s hope that what’s being said in this article is true, and we have a means of getting ahead this year!

What do you think? Is this the year for Gen-X and Baby Boomers? Include your comments below.


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Older Job Applicants Not Protected By Age Bias Law, Says U.S. Appeals Court

A divided federal appeals court restricted age bias claims to employees, ruling that age discrimination protection does not apply to external job applicants.

Source: Older Job Applicants Not Protected By Age Bias Law, Says U.S. Appeals Court

See?? It’s not in my imagination, or the imaginations of anyone approaching 45 years old or older.  I remember for my current job, I openly voiced my concerns about age discrimination to the recruiter, who assured me that bias wasn’t prevalent in this particular company, and fortunately, it’s a company that values for…ahem…more experienced workers.

However, this proves that it’s not unique to the tech comm community. We already know that ageism runs rampant in the tech world, and now we have some precedence that HR people will have to keep in mind.  The economy of the last 10 years or so have forced so many more people who are not millennials to have to either start over or even do drastic makeovers on their careers as technology–which we helped develop in some cases. I understand that millennials need jobs, too. But employers need to get realistic about what the job market is about.  Don’t offer someone who is generally more experienced an entry-level job for peanuts that requires the amount of experience you have. Likewise, don’t expect an entry-level person to have multiple years of experience in something.  I’ve seen it played both ways, and it just doesn’t work.  Just find what you need exactly, and properly pay for what you want. We all understand businesses watching their finances, but something will suffer in either scenario. You’ll either have an experienced person who is underappreciated and miserable for having low pay that doesn’t line up with their experience and skill value, and you’ll have miserable entry-level people who will be overwhelmed because they don’t have all that it takes to do what is required.

There are so many antiquated practices in HR–especially in the IT/tech comm world that need some major adjustments, and ageism is a big component of that.

What do you think? Include your comments below.


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What Is Content Engineering?

Content engineering is the practice of organizing the shape, structure, and application of content, and is broken down into seven primary disciplines.

Source: What Is Content Engineering?

The company Simple [A] has come up with a really good way of explaining the difference between content strategist and content engineering, and how it all fits together. Joe Gollner has been talking about content engineering for years–I think I first heard him talk about it at least five years ago, if not more. (Now, Joe works for Simple [A].)

Based on the definitions given here, I would categorize myself as solidly a content strategist. But I aspire to be a Content Engineer someday! It’s kicking the details of the full experience of content to the fullest. As always, I’m still learning these kinds of details, and always willing to find ways not only to expand my own knowledge, but bring that to what I do for clients.

What do you think? Are you a content strategist, or a content engineer? Or do you aspire to do either of these? Include your comments below.


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The Myth of the Skills Gap – MIT Technology Review

The idea that American workers are being left in the dust because they lack technological savvy does not stand up to scrutiny. Our focus should be on coordination and communication between workers and employers.

Source: The Myth of the Skills Gap – MIT Technology Review

Liz Ryan, a popular HR expert on LinkedIn, posted this article from Fall 2017. The main thing that I gathered from this is that the “lack of job skills” line is hooey.  What’s truly lacking, according to this article’s author, is soft skills like being able to read and write well.  While this is seemingly a universal gap, it’s something that technical communicators should be able to fill the void. High level reading and writing is a huge part of what we do, so this could be a reason why technical communication is growing.

So, when you are job searching and feel like you can’t find anything suitable, don’t despair (or don’t despair completely). If you are a technical writer or communicator, then you have the soft skills that a lot of STEM jobs are lacking, but you have some of that, too. You can fill a need somewhere–it’s just a question of what’s the best fit.

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



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How Your CCMS is Just Like an Instant Pot – Content Rules, Inc.

Learn why moving from unstructured authoring to structured authoring and using a CCMS is very similar to learning how to cook a meal using an Instant Pot.

Source: How Your CCMS is Just Like an Instant Pot – Content Rules, Inc.

Val Swisher has done it again. You have to understand that over the years, I’ve learned to consider Val’s words as gospel. I’ve used her analogies over many years in discussions and even job interviews to show that I understand how content strategy works, how localization needs to be approached, and so much more.  (Don’t worry–I give her credit for the ideas, since they aren’t mine.)

And now, she’s given us a new analogy that I know I can definitely appreciate, as I am also a relatively new Instant Pot owner, too.  Her analogy is simple, it’s clear, and it’s relatable (which are three touchstones I feel make good content).

It’s not a long article, but it gets to the heart of how we can explain what the use of a CCMS and structured authoring is all about to non-tech comm’ers. I urge you to read this, and you will smile from ear to ear as much as I did, along with the requisite, “A-ha!”

What do you think of this analogy that Val has proposed? Does it hold, or does it blow steam? (See what I did there?) Include your comments below.


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Older Workers in Tech Can Fight Against Ageism’s Impact

Older workers complain that ageism is rampant in tech, and survey data suggests they’re onto something: A recent study by ProPublica and the Urban

Source: Older Workers in Tech Can Fight Against Ageism’s Impact

This is a good article that Dice.com put out this week.  And it validates what many of us, even in the technical communications field have said for a while–there IS ageism in the tech field, and we feel it too!  There are some good recommendations on how to avoid hiring problems if you are let go and you are looking, and of a more–ahem–advanced maturity. (Hey, I fall into this group now, too!) Most of these are common sense if you are used to actively looking like I usually am, but if you’ve been in the same job for a long time, it’s worth taking a look at the measures they recommend.

Technical communicators have a lot to offer at any age, but in the end, it’s the skills that you can bring to the job that will get you in the door.

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

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