The Kindle and Technical Communication

This story caught my eye today:

Amazon’s Kindle hit an important and startling milestone yesterday: On Christmas, the company sold more Kindle books than physical books.

via Kindle Milestone: Amazon Sold More Kindle Books Than Physical Books On Xmas.

If the Kindle and other e-readers are becoming so popular isn’t it just a matter of time until documentation  will  be available as a download to e-readers?

What are the implications for technical communication? It shouldn’t be that much different than producing a document for download  as a .pdf, as the Kindle can read .pdfs. I see it being especially useful for service manuals. A company could equip its technicians with an e-reader containing the necessary manuals already inside, much as some companies do now with laptops.  I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has heard of this being done yet.

Personally as a substitute for books I am against e-readers. First of all I think reading is a tactile experience that includes smell and touch. Secondly, it would destroy the market for used books. Not everyone can afford new books. I buy my books from http://www.betterworldbooks.com which offers low cost used books and $3.98 overseas shipping.

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A Glowing Report From CNBC About the Israeli Hi-Tech Economy

Thos of us living here have known it for a long time, but it’s nice that CNBC has picked up on the strength of the Israeli hi-tech sector.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’d add a few more factors

Products developed based on technology developed by the army such as the very small video camera used in products developed by Given Imaging in their PillCams©

Networking–many of the young entrepreneurs employ personnel that they met during their military service

Training–Besides leadership training many start-ups were founded by graduates of the army’s computer or intelligence units who used skills acquired to directly develop their products

Informality–Israeli society is very informal. A quality that encourages innovation and also encourages people in an organization to freely state their opinion which can only be good for product development.

Do’s and Dont’s When Working Inhouse

One of the big advantages in being a freelancer is that you don’t have to work in a cubicle and can organize your own time. However, sometimes do to various circumstances you may find yourself working inhouse.

The most important thing to keep in mind when working inhouse is that you are the low man on the totem pole and what is acceptable behavior for the salaried employees may be inappropriate for you. For example chances are that if an employee takes an extra 15 minutes for lunch no one will say anything. You, on the other hand, getting paid by the hour, will be seen to be stealing 15 minutes from your client.

Here’s my list:

Don’t:

Use your company-provided computer for anything except company business

Talk on your cell phone on company time. Wait for a break to make your calls

Park in anyone’s reserved space.

Surf the net while at work

Do:

Dress for success. Working in your underwear is fine at home, but is generally considered a no no in an office environment.

Try and get along with everyone. Even if you have to work with some obnoxious jerk, you are only there for a limited period and that obnoxious jerk may have some influence in deciding if you work on the next phase of the project or not. It’s worthwhile making the extra effort.

Be on time for meetings. It makes a good impression.

Freelancer Technical Writer #2: Don’t Be Overdependent

A fact of life of being a freelancer is that you can’t say for sure where your income will be coming from three months from now. One of the reasons that companies hire freelancers is because they don’t have a commitment to them as they have to their employees. When times get tough usually the first people to be shown the door are the people working on contract. It’s very comfortable to be working for one client. You may not however  feel so good when your entire monthly income comes to a sudden halt without any severance pay or possibility of receiving unemployment insurance. In a similar vein you may not see a problem if you’ve been getting new clients from a sole source such as word of mouth or through one type of advertising . However when the stream of new clients start to dry up keep in mind that it may take a while to establish a new avenue for bringing in new clients.

My suggestion–keep working for one big client by all means, but don’t shun your returning clients if they come back to you for additional work, even if it means working 15 hour days for a short period, as you may need these returning clients when your current one big client lets you go. Also, if a new client approaches you, you should carefully consider taking them on if your prior commitments allow you to. It may be a bit of a burden to you, but small projects often blossom into bigger ones and you may need a big project in the future. Do not however take on so much work that both the new client and the existing large client are unhappy with your work. Only you know how much work you are capable of doing.