Designing for Knowledge

Let me start with the takeaway from Information Energy 2016:

“Information cannot be intelligent. Intelligent means to propagate and enrich itself. It’s the processing that has to be intelligent.”

Andy McDonald, initiator of Documentation 4.0 and Infomedian of the Year 2016.

The Infomedian Arena is not new at Information Energy, but I must say that this year Wim and his team have done a great job at animating the arena and a few new forum sessions about the future of information and Documentation 4.0.

We have discussed statements about short term and long term expectations during the Future of Information forum, with Ric van Westhreenen, Eva Vangenechten, Joyce Karemann, Kate Thomas, Paolo Peraro, myself and other conference attendees. Common themes were augmented reality, artificial intelligence, open source collaboration.

During the two days I have seen quite an interesting mix of workshops and talks, from concepts and tools to real applications of content design. Just as a sidenote: the iRobot vacuum cleaner was mentioned in at least three talks, including mine. I wonder, what intelligent product is going to be the IEn favorite next year?

It is always interesting to see teams coming from different areas of information design working together and learning from each other. This was again the case in my wokshop and I was glad to see the discussions continued afterwards.

The closing Documentation 4.0 Forum assigned us some homework: join the doc4 LinkedIn group and help define the direction, terminology, consensus, and the skillset for techcomm.

Workshop Abstract: Modelling intelligent content

Know the touchpoints of your customers’ journey with your technical content. Use methods from your information architecture toolkit to research and plan for intelligent content.

Modelling Content Workshop IEn2016

In the age of connected experience, you have to accompany youraudience at all times and across media, as they research and use your product or service. Your role is constantly evolving from technical writer to communicator/ infomedian and you have to add skills and methods to your toolkit to create rich, intelligent content for your users.

Most technical communicators are already familiar with methodslike persona, use-cases and task analysis. In addition, let’s see how drawing the customers’ journey map and identifying their touchpoints with your content channels can help you discover an information model.

To deliver the right content that serves your audience where and when they need it, we’ll plan the main content publishing pipelines and we’ll wireframe a few publication types.

Finally, using a DITA-XML project, we’ll draft the information architecture (metadata, linking and reuse strategy) and we’ll set up the semantic markup structure of the content topics.

Join the workshop, June 8 on “Modelling intelligent content” to experiment with a few research and analysis methods and to create a sample content project.

Unfolding the Techcomm Box

[Originally posted on the Information Energy Blog, on March 29th.]

No doubt, the “techcomm box” keeps growing as we discover new dimensions of our digitally intertwingled lives. Without aiming to outline the history of technical writing here, I’d say we went through stages like typing, layouting, help authoring, single sourcing…

Folding-box template from

…and now, as we are still struggling to implement structured, semantic writing, we are unfolding one by one the sides of the techcomm box, extending our expertise towards multiple disciplines.

  • We are consolidating our roles as content experts through user research, information typing, minimalism, and instructional design.
  • We adopt standards that make our content interchangeable and part of the linked web of data for man and machine.
  • We collaborate across departments in our organizations, integrate with other systems and publish enterprise content.
  • We learn techniques from information architecture, UX, web design, and social media, to reach our audiences and accompany them along an intelligent, omnichannel experience.

Utrecht is the perfect place to meet and talk about information modeling and design. The infomedian gathering every June gets, as its name says, the information energy flowing and encourages us to think outside the box.

Looking forward to meet you in Utrecht and to discover further dimensions we need to explore as we “Design for Knowledge”!

Join the workshop, June 8 on “Modelling intelligent content” to experiment with a few research and analysis methods and to create a sample content project.