Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Global Language - A Preview

Perhaps the greatest advantage offered by the Internet and the World Wide Web today is the fact that it is truly “world wide,” and opens up an unprecedented international marketplace for the delivery of goods and services. Small companies can now sell into marketplaces never dreamed of before, while large multinational companies can streamline their internal communications; and cross-border and cross-cultural cooperation has become a reality.

However the global marketplace also raises a fundamental issue – that of global communications.

Global communication raises the idea of a common language that will easily be understood by all who use the information being delivered. It is still a common misconception that the dominant language on the web is English and is the de-facto language of business. This stems from the fact that the early days of internet growth was primarily from within the United States, but was quickly overtaken by other cultures, especially in Asia and the Pacific Rim.

While English is still the most popular language on the web[1] (only just – Chinese is close behind) it represents only 42% of all websites. On a global scale English is also in decline as a spoken language. The spoken language with the largest numbers of users is Chinese. As a written language it relies not on abstract symbols (letters), but on ideograms – pictorial representations of ideas. Perhaps this is where the answer to a global language lies. In pictures.

Scott McCloud, a leading theoretician on using graphics to communicate points out[2] that “pictures are received information (they) need no formal education to ‘get the message.’ – The message is instantaneous. Writing is perceived, it takes time and specialized knowledge to decode the abstract symbols of language.”

In the 21st Century it may be that visual iconography will finally help us realize a form of universal communication.

..... The above is the opening to an article on using graphics, symbols and icons in technical communications that I have just completed for the STC's INTERCOM magazine. - Look out for the full article in the December issue.

[1] http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm

[2] McCloud, Scott – “Understanding Comics” – Kitchen Sink (1993)

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Book now available for Pre-Order

My latest book "WIKI: Grow Your Own for Fun & Profit" is written, edited, proofed, designed and off at the printers.

It will officially be launched at the 2010 XML Conference in Philadelphia on October 13th. But you can NOW PRE-ORDER your copy at a discount from Barnes & Noble.com.

WIKI: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit introduces the concept of wikis, and shows why they are becoming the must-have communications and collaboration technology for businesses of any size.

The book will also include several case studies highlighting the ways that various companies are using wikis to solve differing business and communications issues, and the resulting benefits in terms of both efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Looking for a way to increase team collaboration, manage your company’s knowledge? Do you need a way to manage projects with customers or suppliers outside your company firewall? Would you like your customers to provide feedback on the information you publish? Then a wiki might be just what you are looking for.

Perhaps you have already decided that you should use a wiki, but are not sure how to go about it. Maybe you have a wiki but would like to encourage more people to use it. Or you would just like to learn more about the practical applications for this fast growing technology.

Then this is the book for you.

An early reader review has already described the book as "Indispensable for people who want to get a wiki going."

There is also a dedicated FaceBook page for the book where you can sign on to get all the latest news and happenings, as well as discuss the ideas and techniques covered.