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Pattern recognition for technical communicators

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Pattern recognition is an essential mental strategy for acquiring and disseminating knowledge, though we are usually not aware that we do it. By understanding what pattern recognition is and how it works, technical communicators can employ it to efficiently acquire information, structure deliverables and help their users to use effective documentation efficiently.

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Pattern recognition for technical communicators

  1. PATTERN RECOGNITIONFOR TECHNICAL COMMUNICATORS Kai Weber @techwriterkai STC Summit, 23 May 2012
  2. PROGRAM1. Who am I and what do I know?2. What is pattern recognition?3. Why should tech communicators care?4. The pattern recognition experience5. Pattern recognition in technical communication
  3. WHAT IS PATTERN RECOGNITION?Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, 8 January 2010:Paul Kulniszewski„s breakfast orange on Christmas 2009http://lockportjournal.com/local/x306495538/VISION-Resident-cuts-orange-open-and-sees-image-of-Jesus-and-Mary/
  4. WHAT IS PATTERN RECOGNITION?Part of human perception:1. Receive sensation and organize it.2. Recognize patterns.3. Formalize patterns as rules to interpret and decide.
  5. HOW ABOUT AN EXAMPLE? Aardvark, J.R. (1980). Ants, and how to eat them. Journal of Orycteropodidae Studies, 80, 11-17. Barker, R. (1982). Rum babas, and what to do if you’ve got them. Reading: Goodnight From Him. Haley, W. (1955). Rock Around The Clock. New York: Decca. Izzard, E. (1998). Cake or Death? Gateaunomics, 10, 195-196. Lemur, R.-T. (2010). Strepsirrhinoplasty. Antananarivo: Raft Press. Leonard, E. (1996). Out of Sight. New York: Harper. Shorty, G. (in press). Okay, so they got me. Los Angeles: Cadillac.
  6. HOW ABOUT AN EXAMPLE? Aardvark, J.R. (1980). Ants, and how to eat them. Journal of Orycteropodidae Studies, 80, 11-17. Barker, R. (1982). Rum babas, and what to do if you’ve got them. Reading: Goodnight From Him. …Rule set1. Last name, initial(s). (Year of publication).2. If it‟s an article: Title, journal title, volume, pages.3. If it‟s a book: Title. City: Publisher.We learn patterns by examples – or by rules.
  7. WHY SHOULD TECH COMMUNICATORS CARE?We do it anyway…1. When we gather information  Reading specs and designs  Interviewing subject-matter experts2. When we create and order information  Write topics  Structure topics into deliverables
  8. WHY SHOULD TECH COMMUNICATORS CARE?We do it anyway, so we might as well do it smartly! If we make sense of our subject more efficiently… If we structure better what we need to convey… … we can provide better documentation!
  9. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACEPhoto by Santiago Masquelet Photo by Jure Šućurhttp://www.sxc.hu/photo/1001312 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/784032
  10. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACE d * d d d t * * d dd * ** d t t t t * * * d t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t
  11. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACE d * d d d t * * d dd * ** d t t t t * * * d t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t
  12. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACE d * d d d t * * d dd * ** d t t t t * * * d t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t
  13. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACE d * d d d t * * d dd * ** d t t t t * * * d t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t
  14. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACE d * d d d t * * d dd * ** d t t t t * * * d t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t t
  15. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN SPACE Installation d * d d d t *Reference * d dd Paid version * ** d t t t t * * * d t t t t t t t t t tFree version t t t t t t t
  16. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN TIME Photo by Richard Cop http://www.sxc.hu/photo/326144
  17. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN TIME * * * * !
  18. THE PATTERN RECOGNITION EXPERIENCE IN TIME * * * * * * !
  19. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK?Bottom-up processing1. Experience and organize2. Match similarities3. Segment into groups… building up a representation from elements.
  20. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK? What is this? How do you know?
  21. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK?Top-down processing1. Know general concept and rules2. Contextualize them3. Apply them… searching for confirmation by “template matching”.
  22. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK?Bottom-up Top-down No prior knowledge  Uses prior knowledge Elements  concepts  Concepts  elements Emphasizes relations  Emphasizes context Slow, but usually correct  Quick, but sometimes wrong
  23. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK? What is this? It‟s part of a chair!Martin Boyce:Untitled, 2002.http://www.mmk-frankfurt.de/de/sammlung/werkdetailseite/?werk=2002%2F112
  24. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK?Martin Boyce: Arne Jacobsen:Untitled, 2002. Chair 3107, c.1952.http://www.mmk-frankfurt.de/de/sammlung/ http://www.moma.org/explore/collection/indexwerkdetailseite/?werk=2002%2F112
  25. HOW DOES PATTERN RECOGNITION WORK?Bottom-up Top-down No prior knowledge  Uses prior knowledge Elements  concepts  Concepts  elements Emphasizes relations  Emphasizes context Slow, but usually correct  Quick, but sometimes wrong
  26. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMM To make sense of unknown subject matter To overcome tech writer‟s block and start writing To chunk topics To find reuse opportunities To help your readers navigate and understand
  27. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo make sense of unknown subject matterScattered, unreliable, incomplete information? Gather all pieces Match similarities and templates Group into segments
  28. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo make sense of unknown subject matterStructured legacy documentation? Test structure and completeness Analyze features
  29. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo overcome writer’s block and start writingIncomplete, inconsistent information? Start bottom-up with similar items as “seeds”.
  30. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo chunk topicsSimilar topics?Coffee 3000 User Manual Coffee 3000 User Manual1. The Coffee 3000 machine 1. About good coffee1.1 Introduction 1.1 The Coffee 30001.2 Buying the right coffee 1.2 Suitable coffee roasts1.3 Water descaling 1.3 Water quality and temperature2. Coffee maker 2. Brewing good coffee2.1 Functions and features 2.1 Set up Coffee 30002.2 Espresso 2.2 Make espresso2.3 Foaming milk 2.3 Make caffe latte2.4 Making cappuccino 2.4 Make cappuccino
  31. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo find reuse opportunitiesSimilar topics? Identify how you can segment information for reuse. Coffee 3000 User Manual 1. About good coffee 1.1 The Coffee 3000 1.2 Suitable coffee roasts 1.3 Water quality and temperature Make cappuccino 2. Brewing good coffee 1. Make espresso. 2.1 Set up Coffee 3000 2. Foam milk. 2.2 Make espresso 3. Sprinkle with cocoa. 2.3 Make caffe latte … 2.4 Make cappuccino
  32. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo help your readers navigate Coffee 3000 User Manual 1. About good coffee 1.1 The Coffee 3000 1.2 Suitable coffee roasts 1.3 Water quality and temperature 2. Brewing good coffee 2.1 Set up Coffee 3000 2.2 Make espresso 2.3 Make caffe latte 2.4 Make cappuccino
  33. PATTERN RECOGNITION IN TECH COMMTo help your readers navigate and understand. Segment and structure topics. Phrase headings in a consistent, recognizable way. Table of contents is top-down. Search and index are bottom-up, template matching aids.
  34. FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE AND WARNING Patternicity: Humans are addicted to meaning. Some patterns refuse to be recognized Pattern recognition occurs in contexts Creating tech comm is often a top-down process … ... but using it is often bottom-up searching!
  35. THANK YOU! KEEP IN TOUCH!@techwriterkai kaiweber.wordpress.com

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