12th International Conference on Technical Communication: Generative AI, Friend or Foe?

Feb 2nd, 2024 – Remote

Université Paris Cité, Department of Applied Languages (EILA)
Clillac Arp Laboratory

Artificial intelligence

As the dust settles on the ChatGPT breakthrough, technical communicators, like many other content professionals, begin to think about the impact of generative AI on their daily work. While large language models (LLMs) create more effective ways to handle knowledge and create content, AI-generated information raises many ethical questions.

For the next International Conference on Technical Communication, held by the Université Paris Cité, academic and professional speakers will share insights on the following topics:

  • Use cases for AI in technical communication: content creation, information retrieval, classification.
  • Ethics, security and environmental issues related to artificial intelligence and the way companies deal with them.
  • Attitudes to knowledge and new skills needed in the age of artificial intelligence.

View the replay of presentations on YouTube.


10.00 – 10.10


Patricia Minacori, Ismael Ramos, Marie Girard

10.10 – 10.40

Presentation of research projects

Master 2 students

10.40 – 11.10

Productive uses of AI in Technical Communications [PDF]

Dipo Ajose-Coker, MadCap Software

Crafted for technical writers, savvy documentation managers, and stakeholders looking to innovate, I want to dissect how AI is reshaping the creation, management, and delivery of technical content. Learn to leverage AI for more than just efficiency; use it to enrich content quality, enhance user engagement, and inform content strategy with data-driven insights. This presentation will get you thinking about how best to position AI as a core component of your technical communication toolkit. Let’s redefine the boundaries of technical writing and documentation management.

11.10 – 11.40
Natural born prompters: why technical writers make great prompt engineer

Maaike Groenewege, Convocat BV

So is AI going to put technical writers out of job? On the contrary! One of the most important new roles in the emerging field of generative AI is that of the so-called prompt engineer, or instruction designer for large language models (LLMs). Unsurprisingly, it turns out that what makes a great instruction for a human, also does a very decent job as an instruction for an LLM. So tech writers might well be natural born prompters! In her talk, Maaike compares technical writing and prompt engineering and shares some tips and tricks to start exploring this exciting field yourself.

11.40 – 12.10

 Interactive session: Practical uses of AI in technical communication [PDF]

12.10 – 14.00

Lunch break

14.00 – 14.30

Impacts and uses of AI within collective intelligence value creation processes in knowledge management and technical communication professions

Gaëlle Brunetaud and Hugo Deschamps, OnePoint

The growing impacts of artificial intelligence on today’s and tomorrow’s professions raises questions about the notion of “collective intelligence” in all its dimensions, as well as about the “work value” of human beings faced to technological machines. What could be the place of AI within collective intelligence value creation processes in the future, especially for knowledge management and technical communication professions ? Are there use cases that we can learn from ?

14.30 – 15.00

Gen-AI Innovation: How Tech, Real Estate, and Engineering Expertise Shaped the Founding of Botique.me [PDF]

Sarah Lasaracina, Botique.me

Embark on a journey with three individuals – tech writer Sarah, real estate entrepreneur Giuliano, and mechanical engineer turned AI enthusiast Michele. In May 2023, inspired by ChatGPT’s rise, they envisioned Gen AI revolutionizing Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Fearing larger corporations might swiftly seize market shares through AI integration, the trio united. Explore the genesis of Botique.me, their venture crafting user-friendly Gen AI-based chatbots for SMEs. Witness how this diverse team ingeniously responded to the encroaching dominance of big players. Beyond this case study, delve into broader market changes post-ChatGPT. Spotlighting the demand for a mix of soft and hard skills, the presentation offers practical strategies for grounded skill acquisition. Whether UX, UI, Neuromarketing, or SEO, it guides professionals in adapting to the dynamic landscape through continuous learning. Join us as we unravel Botique.me’s transformative narrative, explore market shifts, and gain practical insights for professionals navigating technology, business, and skill development in the Gen AI era.

15.00 – 15.30

Interactive session: Gen-AI, more of the same or creativity boost? [PDF]

15.30 – 16.00

AI Reading Assistants: Balancing Innovation and Core Competencies

Marc Watkins, University of Mississippi

AI reading assistants use generative AI to help users analyze text, identify key details, summarize content, answer questions, and more. These tools promise to greatly augment technical writers’ productivity by augmenting reading and analysis tasks. Nonnative speakers, those with disabilities, and readers with less-developed lexical knowledge, can also benefit. However, over-reliance on AI reading assistant tools risks diminishing core human competencies like critical thinking, comprehension, and close reading. As educators, we must endeavor to balance the pragmatic use of this new technology, while carefully teaching learners to employ it in a manner that supports and augments skills like reading, rather than off loading it completely to an automated process. With deliberate and ethical guidance, AI reading assistants could empower readers to reach new heights of productivity and quality. The alternative – students and the general public becoming passive consumers of AI-generated content – may undermine education instead of help making users more literate. Our challenge is developing framework to intelligently wield transformative technologies rather than be dominated by them.

16.00 – 16.30

Forging New Pedagogical Attitudes with the New Kid on the Block, AI

Cynthia Pope, Syracuse University, NY

It seems likely that in preparation for producing final artifacts in classes requiring technical writing, students will use AI to generate a surplus of written words. How this profusion of ideas can lead to original, student written, final drafts will be our next challenge as we support the intellectual development of our students. Providing students with opportunities to develop technical writing practiced encouraging the use of technological advances, but also developing their intellectual capacities will provide them with resilience needed to adapt and grow. The growing impact of AI requires we reconsider our teaching methods and course outcomes. We need to clarify the relationship between AI, technical writing, and learning, and emphasize how learning works to support the student’s ability to address problem. This requires formulating assignments to engage students in ways that incorporate new technologies, support equity, practice critical literacy and analysis, and connect students with their intellectual potential. This proposal aims to create a robust presentation around AI use and provide frameworks to guide faculty regarding AI and technical writing. Topics include course policies, course development, creating and structuring assignments that incorporate AI, outcomes, and assessment. Expect strong examples of praxis, pedagogy, and technology.

16.30 – 16.40


Patricia Minacori, Ismael Ramos, Marie Girard


Dipo Ajose-Coker

After relocating to France in 2005, Dipo completed an MA in Multilingual and Multimedia Document Conception at the Université Paris Cité. He has since spent the past 18 years combining his love for language and IT skills in various roles, serving as a DITA expert, technical writer, technical editor, and proof-reader in the Fintech and MedTech device industries. In 2021, Dipo transitioned into Content Creation and Marketing. Acting as the crucial link between developers and the end users, occupying the sweet spot between expectation and delivery, Dipo represents both the voice of the user and that of the software developer, acting as the quintessential middleman. In the grand symphony of the Technical Communications industry, Dipo takes on the role of a conductor to unify and harmonize the voice of the user, industry experts, and the vendor.

Gaëlle Brunetaud

Gaëlle Brunetaud has developed a strong experience in collective and emotional intelligence as a consultant and as a coach. She helps teams and organisations to develop resilience and face difficult and complex situations.

Hugo Deschamps

Hugo Deschamps, ethnologist and cultural and leadership transformation expert at onepoint, has 13 years of experience as researcher, human resources and operations director, and consultant.

Maaike Groenewege

Maaike Groenewege is a linguist, prompt engineer and conversation designer at her own company, Convocat BV. She helps organisations leverage the true potential of conversational and generative AI. She works with Dutch companies like Independer, Kamer van Koophandel and ABN AMRO, as well as with American startups. But Maaike also brings a 25-year career as a technical writer. 14 of those, she spent writing procedures and instructions at Dutch air traffic control, working with DITA, single sourcing and component content architecture. To this day, she applies everything she learned in tech comm in her daily work, most notably the minimalist framework for designing effective procedures (Carroll & Van der Meij).

Sarah Lasaracina

Sara is a former CDMM student. After spending 8 years in IT, focusing on technical communication across various domains, she acquired essential UX design skills. These skills were instrumental in developing her own Gen AI-based solution. 

Cynthia Pope

With a PhD in Rhetoric & Technical Communication from Texas Tech U, Cynthia Pope is an assistant teaching professor at Syracuse U in New York.

Marc Watkins

Marc Watkins is an Academic Innovation Fellow, Lecturer of Writing and Rhetoric, and serves as the Director of the AI Summer Institute for Teachers of Writing at the University of Mississippi. He cochairs the AI working group within his department and serves as a liaison with other departments on campus, exploring generative AI’s impact on teaching and learning. In addition to being awarded a Pushcart Prize, Marc has been awarded a 2018 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Teaching and Learning, a WOW Fellowship, and a Sarah ISOM Fellowship. His research includes OER, open pedagogy, creative writing, digital humanities, AI in education, and grant writing.

A technical communicator’s learning journey towards expertise

By Rebecca BUKALA, Master’s student 2022-23

Technical communicators are constantly learning to acquire skills and knowledge in new fields. But, what do you do when the field in which you are trying to gain knowledge is so foreign to you that you barely comprehend the fundamentals?

The main difficulty I encountered -and still do- in my company is understanding payroll. Payroll is an entanglement of law, business, and HR, and I don’t understand most of it. I started my apprenticeship almost nine months ago, and I still feel lost when it comes to payroll vocabulary, concepts, and processes.

The problem is that payroll is the core of the company I work at. This company develops and sells payroll software, and, as a technical communicator, my mission is to pass the knowledge from R&D to Operations, that is, from the employees who create knowledge to the employees who use it. Without a good knowledge of payroll, it’s challenging to make sure the documents I review and rewrite are correct.

When I started working, I thought the knowledge I would gain on the job would be enough for me to understand payroll. However, I quickly realized that I needed to plan and seek out other resources.

Acquiring knowledge in a new field can be broken down into 3 main steps:

  1. Set clear learning goals.
  2. Find the tools.
  3. Take the time to learn and practice.

My learning goal was easy to define: I wanted to gain enough knowledge on payroll to understand the documents I was reading, and the conversations I was hearing.

Regarding the tools, fortunately for me, every new employee in the company follows online training to get into payroll and learn how to use the company’s software. Even the employees who won’t be using the software in their everyday tasks have to participate in the classes. But, because of the apprenticeship rhythm (two weeks in university – two weeks at work), I couldn’t follow the first part of the training before October, and the second part before November.

In the meantime, when I didn’t understand a payroll concept or term, I would either go on the Internet or ask my colleagues. I also noted the explanations they gave me in a notebook. Once I was able to follow the training, I took notes because I knew that, considering the amount of information I received, I would forget everything. Through the training, I studied the fundamentals of payroll and learned how to use the company’s software. This training provided me with both declarative and procedural knowledge, that is: I learned what things are (declarative) and how to do them (procedural). I was mainly seeking declarative knowledge, but the procedural knowledge I gained proved useful for a project I was assigned a few weeks later.

At the end of the training, the participants can take a test to evaluate their level. This test wasn’t obligatory for me, but my tutor encouraged me to take it nonetheless. I passed and received the certification. I was on top of the world because I thought the training had solved all my problems and that I had reached my learning goal. However, as the weeks passed, I realized the training wasn’t enough. I was still struggling with payroll concepts and processes, and I became discouraged at my lack of progress.

This constant change in the state of mind of learners is well-known and even has a name: the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Dunning Kruger effect

Encyclopaedia Britannica defines the Dunning-Kruger effect as a “cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain”.

To explain it briefly, at the beginning of your learning journey your confidence explodes at your first signs of progress, you feel like a genius. Then you are confronted with the gap between you and your peers, and your confidence crushes; what this curve doesn’t show is that many people end their learning journey there. For those who continue, their confidence will slowly rise again as they gain competency, and that’s how they become experts in their field.

Besides the correlation between competency and confidence, this curve also shows that gaining competency is a journey, and this journey always begins at zero. Nobody comes out of the womb an expert in payroll. The article The Making of an expert written by K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula, and Edward T. Cokely in 2007 has reminded me of that. After analyzing copious amounts of studies to determine what makes an expert, the authors have gathered enough scientific evidence to declare: “Experts are always made, not born”. Specifically, they are made through deliberate practice, which the authors define as “considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all”. This is something we always have to remember as technical communicators, gaining knowledge takes time, and the experts we are turning to for help used to be beginners before.

But it is also important to remember that there is a reason why technical communicators have to work hand in hand with experts. My tutor has been working in the company for more than a decade. When I asked her how she felt regarding payroll concepts and terms, she revealed to me that she was still very confused at times, even though, from my point of view, she seemed to be an expert. It reminded me that we don’t need to become experts in the field we are working in. We just need to gain enough knowledge to fake expertise in our writing.

In conclusion, to gain knowledge in a field as abstruse as payroll, the first step is to set a learning goal. Gaining expertise takes time, so it’s important that technical communicators remind themselves of their goals to avoid getting too discouraged. As for me, I know that I will not come out of my apprenticeship as an expert in payroll, but it isn’t my goal, and writing this article has reminded me of it.


Herrity, J. (2023). 10 Steps To Learn New Skills (With Tips). Indeed Career Guide. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/learn-new-skills

Indeed Editorial Team. (2022). How To Acquire New Skills in 10 Steps. Indeed Career Guide. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/acquire-skills

Tktcambridge. (2019, July 28). Declarative Knowledge Vs. Procedural Knowledge – TKT Cambridge. TKT Cambridge. https://www.tktcambridge.com/declarative-knowledge-vs-procedural-knowledge/

Bakken, R., & Dobbs, J. (2016). The relevance of four types of knowledge for leader preparation in radically different settings: Reflections on data from a case study in Qatar and teaching at a United States military academy. Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership, 2(2), 17–23. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1152204.pdf

Duignan, B. (2023, March 27). Dunning-Kruger effect | Definition, Examples, & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica.

Université Paris Cité partners with Adobe for technical communication training

At Université Paris Cité university, Bachelor and Master technical communication students are trained on technical communication standards, structured authoring methodology, structured languages and content transformation (XML, DITA, XSL…), using leading authoring tools.
Through practical hands-on workshops and projects, led by techcom professionals, students learn how to use the most recognized and renowned authoring tools, thus offering them a diverse set of skills highly appreciated by future employers.
Thanks to the Adobe University Outreach partnership, our students now have access to the Technical Communication Suite free of charge, for the duration of the academic year, giving them access to the most recent versions of FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Captivate. This is a real plus for this training curriculum that attracts each year more and more candidates, whose high marketability confirms how adequate the learning curriculum is to the needs of future employers.

Adobe logo


11th Université Paris Cité International Conference on Technical Communication – Programme

Friday 3th February 2023 (remote)

Sponsored by UFR Etudes Interculturelles de Langues Appliquées and the Clillac-Arp research laboratory.

Measuring impact

CC BY 2.0 frankieleon

Measuring Impact: What Makes Good Technical Communication

Technical communicators strive for creating content that is usable and helpful. But how can they be absolutely sure that they’ve been successful in achieving this goal? This year, we are happy to welcome speakers from Finland, Poland, Germany, the United States, and France to  explore methodologies and tools for measuring and validating quality :

  • Systems for gathering user feedback and testing content usability
  • Metrics for measuring content performance
  • Quality review processes
  • Heuristics and standard criteria for checking quality
  • Before / after examples of content improvement initiatives
Speaker Title
Students, Master 2 CTM Presentation of research projects [PDF]
Barbara Kardel-Piątkowska (Etteplan, Poland)

Readability metrics in technical communication – useful or not? [PDF]

Dipo Coker (Componize, France)

Structured Content Reviews by SMES: Challenges and solutions [PDF]

Interactive session Who checks content quality ? [PDF]
Suvi Isohella and Juho-Pekka Mäkipää (Vaasa University, Finland) Applying accessibility heuristics in university teaching [PDF]

Craig Frayne (Palabra Technical, Germany)

The aesthetics of technical documentation [PDF]

Karissa Van Baulen (Hotjar, US)

Scaling your company with docs [PDF]

Michael Laudenbach (Carnegie Mellon University, US Pennsylvania)

Visualizing Rhetorical Moves in Statistics Writing: Write & Audit as a Revision Tool

Interactive session

What makes good technical communication ? [PDF]

Video recordings of the presentations are available on YouTube.


Barbara Kardel-Piątkowska (Etteplan, Poland)

Barbara is a linguist and information science graduate with experience in the translation industry as well as technical writing. She has been working as a technical author at Etteplan for 3 years.

Dipo Coker (Componize, France)

With over 16 years combining languages and IT as a technical writer and editor working in regulated industries (high-end medical devices and finance), Dipo blends his experience of authoring in structured and unstructured environments; migrating technical publications to DITA; and content strategy to help develop a best in class CCMS. Dipo holds an MA in Multimedia and Multilingual Document Design.

Suvi Isohella and Juho-Pekka Mäkipää (Vaasa University, Finland)

Suvi Isohella is a university teacher in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Vaasa, Finland. She teaches courses in technical communication and web accessibility and supervises B.A. theses within communication studies. In the department, she is the leader of the interdisciplinary Technical Communication program. Her research interests include user-centered technical communication, accessibility of textual web content, technical communication curriculum development, and minimalist document design.

Juho-Pekka Mäkipää is a university teacher of information systems at the School of Technology and Innovation at the University of Vaasa, Finland. He teaches courses in the field of web accessibility, human-computer interaction and user experience and supervises MSc theses in information systems. His research interests include theory and universality of web accessibility, human-computer interaction, and citizen science.

Craig Frayne (Palabra Technical, Germany)

Craig does freelance technical communication & design and is currently an API Technical Writer for the SCAYLE eCommerce platform at About You in Hamburg.

Karissa Van Baulen (Hotjar, US)

Karissa was a nominee for the “ACE Rising Star Award in Customer Education” for 2021 and has been featured on the “Knowledge Base Ninjas” podcast, presented at Support Driven, and spoke at multiple Write the Docs conferences. Her specialty is in help center and training content strategy. She was able to increase self service for learning content in the Hotjar help center by 75% by using Hotjar.

Michael Laudenbach (Carnegie Mellon University, US Pennsylvania)

Michael is a 4th-year PhD Candidate in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University. His research draws from corpus linguistics methods and rhetorical theory to describe the variation of genres and registers in student writing. Specifically, he uses writing in the discipline of statistics & data science as a case study to address broader questions surrounding corpus-based approaches to genre-based writing instruction.

10th International Conference on Technical Communication: Time and Space

For the 10th anniversary of the International Conference on Technical Communication at Université de Paris, as deep changes are ongoing in work practices, we explore the right time and space for technical communication.

Technical communicators often work with teams that are distributed geographically and need to manage different timelines. During this conference, academics and professionals shared the methods, tools and best practices for highly collaborative and fast-paced activites, teamwork across different locations and timezones, as well as changes in work practices during the Covid crisis.

Remote work

Speaker Title
Gaspard Bébié-Valérian Half-documentarian, half engineer, and a hint of hacking: docOps, an in-between figure to implement docs as code [PDF]
Master 2 CTM Presentation of research subjects [PDF]
Interactive session ContentOps with Rahel Anne Bailie [PDF]
Petra Herbst Docs-as-code explained – what, who and how? [PDF]
André Tran Feeling constrained by your CMS? Docs-as-code could be a solution [PDF]
Barbara Kardel-Piątkowska How the pandemics influenced the work of technical communicators in Poland? [PDF]
Julia Unis Good Morning, Good Night: Fostering Connections with a China/US Documentation Team [PDF]
Interactive session Technical communication in times of crisis
Saveena (Chakrika) Veeramoothoo Trans-Atlantic & Pacific Project: International collaboration challenges across time during the COVID crisis [PDF]
Laura Gonzales and Valentina Sierra Nino Visual Translation and Language Access Research in North Central Florida [Video]

The conference was held remotely on Zoom on January 28th, 2022.

Video recordings available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRsfMsVg38nBYl-wG3gLAAqjEcQADVVEb

9th International Conference on Technical Communication: Thank you!

It’s a wrap! This year’s International Conference on Technical Communication was a special one, as it was the first time we were holding it online. From this constraint came a fantastic opportunity, with an amazing panel of speakers, great interaction between attendees worldwide, and insightful discussions about evolutions of the discipline.

A lot of fun was had by all at the event, and to keep the momentum going here are the much awaited conference takeways:

Developing a network for professional development when STC or other organizations aren’t available

It’s important to have conversations with tech comm practitioners in different contexts/spaces. We can learn so much from each other that way

Listening to what’s happening in Europe in terms of research and industry was great!

Updating a layer instead of adding a layer = minimalism well defined

Rething what you’re going to create and design it in a smart way.

Alexandre’s notion of recycling.

It is great to bring together our research findings

I liked the concept of information literacy. We may not think of it whenever we’re crafting content.

Program and tickets are now available for the 9th International Conference on Technical Communication

You are invited by Patricia Minacori, Marie Girard, Clillac-Arp Research Laboratory and the EILA Department of Université de Paris on

Friday 29 January 2021, from 10.00 – 17.00 Paris Time (UTC+1)

Evolutions of the Discipline

During this videoconference (Zoom), in English only, we will explore the job market, training curricula and evolutions of the trade. Check out the programme: 9th International Conference on Technical Communication: Evolutions of the Discipline

The conference is free – register on Event Brite.


Call for speakers: 9th International Conference on Technical Communication

You are invited by Clillac-Arp Research Laboratory and the EILA Department of University
Paris Diderot:

Friday 29 January 2021, from 10.00 – 17.00
Visioconference (Zoom)

We are looking for speakers to come and share practices and thoughts on the following

  • The place taken by technical communication within a organisation with the typically associated business: Product, support, marketing, HR…
  • The evolution of skills, methods and tools.
  • The challenge of technical communication training curricula to cover varied needs.
  • The possible career paths in technical communications.

Talks will be 20 minutes long, followed by 10 minutes for questions and answers.

The conference is free to all.

We accept papers in French and in English.

Please send a 200-word summary before 15 December 2020 to
patricia.minacori (at) eila.univ-paris-diderot.fr

Please include in your e-mail, your Name, University/Company, as well as a short

More about the conference: 9th International Conference on Technical Communication: Evolutions of the Discipline
Scientific committee: Patricia Minacori, Marie Girard

8th International Conference on Technical Communication: Designing Experiences

Design d'expérience

Digital services transform our everyday experience, first through screens (websites, e-learning, online help, videos and social networks), and now through the physical world (voice assistants, augmented reality, blended learning). Technical communication has always had very strong ties with experience design. Now communication and design practices need to evolve to better support hybrid experiences across the digital and physical worlds.

Les projets de recherche en M2 Communication Technique Multilingue [PDF]

Marie Girard et les étudiants du M2 CTM

Assistants vocaux, comment puis-je vous aider? [PDF]

Maaike Coppens, Head UX design, M Creation, Paris

La réalité virtuelle au service de l’apprentissage [PDF]

Pierre Marole, Responsable partenariats, Digital and Human, Paris

Métadonnées : au service des expériences utilisateurs [PDF]

François Violette, Information Architect, ReachFive

Design responsable : concevoir pour l’avenir [PDF]

Aurélie Baton, UX Designer, IBM France

Que se passe-t-il lorsque vous mettez 50 rédacteurs techniques au sein d’une équipe de Design [PDF]

Sarah Baillot, SAP France

Quand les mots influencent le design et les interfaces [PDF]

Amandine Agic, Content Strategist, ACCOR

Camille Promérat, UX Writer, Freelance

Building UX As A Strategy for Growth [PDF]

Greta Goetz,PhD, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade


7th International Conference on Technical Communication: Transforming Knowledge (2019)

7th International Conference on Technical Communication

Technical communication aims at transforming tacit knowledge into useful and usable content. During this year’s International Conference on Technical Communication, we explored the tools, methodologies and processes that make it possible to transform internal, individual knowledge into external, standardized content.

Les projets de recherche en M2 CDMM [PDF]

Marie Girard et les étudiants du M2 CDMM

Travailler avec les experts pour construire des formations digitales (e-learning) [PDF]

Agnès Mfayokurera, Consultante – fondatrice Triptik

Capitalisation des connaissances et ingénierie pédagogique [PDF]

Nicolas Sengmany (EXT IGDOC)

What Does The Future Hold For The Technical Communication Market? [PDF]

C.J. Walker, Firehead

Knowledge Management : au secours de la transformation [PDF]

Boris Durupt Zhou Knowledge Manager et coach outils collaboratifs – Société Générale Corporate and Investment Banking (SGCIB)

Les communautés de pratiques – Maillon essentiel de la stratégie KM de l’entreprise [PDF]

Louis-Pierre Guillaume, Consultant – fondateur Amallte

Intelligence artificielle et rédaction scientifique : quels nouveaux enjeux pour la R&D des entreprises ? [PDF]

Charlie Grosman, Team Leader, Pierre Holat, Data Scientist, Richard Moutoucarpin,alternant L3 Pro redaction technique – F. Iniciativas

Transformer la connaissance ? [PDF]
Pascal Negros, Enseignant en ingénierie des connaissances, Ecole de Management, Sorbonne-Paris 1

Listen to the recordings on YouTube.

Find out the subjects that CDMM students are exploring this year

We are very excited with the research subjects that the CDMM students are exploring this year! From artificial intelligence to social responsibility, students are looking at how the technical communication discipline is evolving and innovating.

The four research projects this year are about:

  • Artificial intelligence (chatbots and natural language processing)
  • Innovation in user assistance
  • Technical communication for social good
  • Evolution of the technical communication profession

Students are looking for professionals who can help them with their research. If you want to contribute to this work, let us know!

6th International Conference on Technical Communication: Life-long Learning (2018)

6th international conference speakers

This year’s international conference on technical communication was about life-long learning. We explored learning innovation in the digital era, how technical communication contributes to the learning experience, and how technical communicators can keep learning.

9h30-10h Ouverture des travaux
Patricia Minacori, Marie Girard
10h10-10h40 Les projets de recherche en M2 CDMM [PDF]

Marie Girard et les étudiants du M2 CDMM

10h40-11h10 Se reconnecter à soi-même grâce à la pédagogie alternative [PDF]

Tabea Menez, Consultante en stratégie “Modes de vie, de travail et d’apprentissage autonomes”

11h10-11h40 Classe inversée et compétences en communication technique [PDF]

Marie Girard, IBM et PAST Paris Diderot

11h40-12h10 Tech Writers Without Borders: Write. Help. Learn. Repeat. [PDF]

Stuart Culshaw, IBM

12h15-14h00 Lunch break
14h00-14h30 De l’obligation réglementaire à l’habilitation agile : une démarche à T2C, la régie des Transports de Clermont-Ferrand [PDF]
Pour T2C : Julien Jiat : Sûreté de Fonctionnement Traway
pour Atelier Numérique – Author-it : Jean-François Didier
14h30-15h00 Évolution de la documentation technique dans l’industrie – Enjeux et perspectives sur la formation [PDF]

Philippe Zingoni, NOTEHA

15h00-15h20 Break
15h20-15h50 Technical Commmunication: a two-sided coin? [PDF]

Koussay Houssine, Laetitia Naly, Axel Petit, Technical Communicators

15h50-16h10 Unconscious Learning

Marc Swanson, Technical Communicator

16h10-17h00 Discussion


CDMM Research: A seminar with Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald

Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald are leading professors and experts, with multiple-decade experience in the fields of technical communication and information. In 2016, they joined forces to create a consortium, aiming to promote “information 4.0”, a reading grid to the accelerating evolution of information.

Students of CDMM Master 2 have been familiarized with Ray and Andy’s presentations at Paris’ 2017 Documation Data Intelligence Forum, and they met again on May 31st, to discuss information 4.0 and elaborate around it, in the context of their technical communication, information architecture and content management program.

CDMM: What is information 4.0?

Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald: Our research revolves around the general theoretical question of the role of information in the context of technological progress.

On a practical level, information 4.0 aims at ensuring we take this evolution into account.

In other words, it provides help to anticipate the evolution of the technical communication industry, and it outlines reasons why this industry needs to evolve.

For example, software developers think around functions or groups of functions, while users are concerned only with the tasks they have to carry out. The role of technical communicators can therefore be broadly described as translating an approach by function into a logic of tasks: it is obviously much wider than designing user manuals.

Information 4.0 also takes into account and capitalizes on the rapid growth of chatbots, augmented reality (AR) devices and applications, the Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Is AI truly intelligent?

As of today, even the most powerful AI, such as the ones that beat chess or go masters, only simulate intelligence: they do not begin to approach consciousness, which is a prerequisite to “human-style” intelligence.

Current AI can accumulate data and use it in the most relevant way, in relation to a particular task or series of tasks, however complex, but they cannot learn: they are not able to perform a task they have not been designed to perform, nor to take initiative outside of their functional envelopes.

However, AI is already very useful, notably to carry out repetitive actions, better than humans – for a cost that is quickly soaring.

What are the risks of AI?

The main risk of AI is for humans to give up control over tedious and recurring tasks, without a possibility to go back – just because we might soon forget how to perform them. In general terms, AI obviously raises numerous governance, interoperability, and ethical issues. To maintain control over AI, its very concept and the questions it poses must be well understood, and the aim of each AI solution has to be precisely defined. For example, don’t pretend you are trying to build an intelligent city if what you are actually working on is a bandwidth wide enough to accommodate three interoperating networks…

How do you see technical writing evolving?

It is evolving quickly and deeply, around the issues we have already been talking about, which will become ever more present.

The emergence of the agile method of code maintenance is a good example of ongoing changes: pseudo-real time adaptation is an actual goal for many companies. Information is becoming obsolete much faster already, which emphasizes the need for contextualization and interactivity, notably with regards to the development of IoT and machine-to-machine communication.

In the span of five to ten years, from writing instructions, procedures or manuals, the role of the technical writer will continue to evolve towards information retrieval, sorting, filtering and distribution, in relevance to the needs of the target audience. As very important vectors of information, you need to embrace this evolution to prepare for it.

You have been stressing the need for information contextualization. Can you elaborate on this?

Context is key, indeed. Information is only valid in a certain context, and contexts change in an increasingly fast manner. Hence, in some companies, personas are designed, only to be used for a single hour. Other contexts are already tracked and even materialized by RFID beacons, which directly link information to its potential user; the aim is to offer information, rather than deliver it.

Imagine you are in Cairo. Your need for information will change considerably, depending on the fact you are a tourist, a local, or an Egyptologist. Ideally, offered contextualized information addresses your specific needs – which raise the issue of context granularity, a whole other challenge in itself.

In that respect, adopting the molecular information approach we are advocating with our information 4.0 logic can be helpful.

What is molecular information?

We believe breaking down information into molecules facilitates information reuse.

Molecules of information are autonomous, self-sufficient, fundamental blocks of content. In that logic, the sense and nature of a document depends on the way its information molecules are assembled.

However, just like in the field of chemistry, in that of information, mixing molecules can carry surprising outcomes. It can even be dangerous. That is why information molecules need to be precisely organized, defined, and tagged to ensure their sensible use and to avoid meaningless or erroneous documentation.

Bearing this paramount rule in mind, information molecules can prove a powerful tool in tackling the issues of contextualization and context granularity. Molecules can indeed be used in a great variety of contexts, providing they are governed by a clear and precise editorial policy.

As a summary, what is your vision of the current work of a corporate information specialist?

In a context where, as we saw, the value of information becomes increasingly doubtful, an information specialist’s main task is definitely to maintain and increase the value of the company’s information base.

Information is, indeed, one of the most precious intangible assets of any company. It needs to be retrievable, organized and up to date.

Information specialists therefore have to force their way into scrum and marketing meetings, for example: wherever they are located in the organization chart, they literally stand at the center of any firm that values its history, its products and services, and its customers.

Finally, information specialists need to adapt to the idea of a world where, in the foreseeable future, software will be able to read users’ facial expressions, and to respond to them.

CDMM research: 6 questions to Noz Urbina

In April, CDMM students had the pleasure to interview Noz Urbina for their research projects. Noz Urbina  (Urbina Consulting) is a globally recognized leader in content strategy, customer journey mapping, and adaptive content modelling. He is co-author of the book “Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits” and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Masters Programme in content strategy.

This year, several of CDMM students’ research projects focus on enjoyable customer experience and the relationships between marketing and technical communication. The students tapped into Noz’s expertise in that field to move their projects forward.

1- How can we make technical communication more enjoyable to users?

Make it invisible! Those who are old enough to remember Microsoft Clippy know that if you make technical help too pro-active, it can become really annoying. Today, however, we have smarter  devices that can better detect context to deliver information – but this information needs to be relevant: Don’t shove an encyclopedia under people’s noses, even if it has a search box! People want answers they can action – not better tech docs. Be open to any medium, paradigm or method that can better convey those answers into people’s minds.

Make sure you distinguish doing time from learning time. For doing-time content, you can use 3D diagrams and explodes to make your content more engaging, but don’t pull users away into a game. For learning-time content, where there are things to memorize, you can use gamification, narratives and visual metaphors. If you can engage pleasure or pain, then people will memorize better. For that reason, games are a good, enjoyable choice to support learning. There’s more to docs than just looking up quick facts or tasks. Technical communication should help users self-educate when appropriate.

In both cases, consider tone and voice: while tone may vary depending on context, the voice you use for the brand should be consistent across the experience.

2- How can we make technical communication more enjoyable to us as professionals?

Technical communicators generally don’t enjoy putting specs into words, and sadly that’s often what they’re doing. Technical communication is a multidisciplinary activity that requires communicators to get into the mindset of users. Creating technical content becomes more enjoyable when you know that you are solving real people’s real problems. Customer journey mapping is a way to make the experience more enjoyable for users and technical communicators alike. Ideally, bring together support, sales, marketing and other people outside your silo around a customer journey map to review how customers accomplish their objectives out in the field. Identify emotional hot spots and ask “is it content or is it bad design?” to identify where content can help in the journey. When content is not the problem, capture that feedback and give it back to the people who can make a difference. A customer journey map enables you to go have more useful conversations about content because you’re talking about the customer view, not your own. Take the opportunity to get into the users’ shoes for a while.

3- Can semantic structure make technical content more enjoyable?

Semantic structure makes content easier to personalize. Semantics is the study of meaning. When we use semantic metadata, that makes content more flexible and adaptive, so that it can be handled by a computer. Personalisation makes content more enjoyable because it focuses the delivery on what’s most relevant. Semantic metadata can also help more relevant content get found by search engines, which helps it solve more people’s problems. This makes the whole endeavor more satisfying.

4- What advice could we give a technical communication department to be more efficient?

You could tell that technical communication department to focus their efforts on 3 points:

  • Customer journey mapping lets you plan what you want to kill, that is, stop making stuff just because you’ve always done it. Maintaining unnecessary or bloated content wastes time and makes consumption faster and easier.
  • Semantic analysis, that is, information typing and content analysis, helps you do better reuse. For example, you can decide to split up a piece of information that is trying to do too much and reuse a part of it. You don’t have to be stick to DITA types for information typing: for example, having a type of information for narrative enables reuse of content that creates a human connection, while keeping consistency in voice. This is often helpful for training or other cross-silo reuse scenarios. Check out Rob Hanna from Precision Content’s work for more details about information typing.
  • Metadata alignment. For example, you can use tools like PoolParty (an ontology management system) to align metadata inside and outside of the technical communication department and drive personalisation or contextual-content.

5- What is the most important thing technical communicators can learn from marketers?

Technical communicators can learn several things from marketers:

  • Relationship building – as opposed to focusing only on speed in delivery and cost efficiency
  • Web design – as opposed to document design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – as opposed to focusing only on navigation optimization
  • Analytics and measurement – check the ROI, use, and engagement that your content is achieving

6- What do marketing and technical communication have in common?

Marketing and Tech Pubs are the two parts of the organization that understand words, and that manage customer-facing communication.

They have similar requirements:

  • Call centers rely on technical communication a lot. Marketing are starting to look into call centers because it’s one of the only places when the brand gets to actually speak to users post-sale.
  • Field services and support read the documentation, but they don’t talk. Marketing and Tech Pubs both need them to be carriers of messages to market, and also channels of valuable incoming feedback.

Marketing and Tech Pubs need to align their terminology and context to define who delivers which message, to whom, when and how. Marketing will need to industrialize their content management and scale their processes for the unknown, using skills that tech pubs developed years ago out of their famous necessity for reuse and efficiency. Digital transformation, communication and content are the fastest development areas in the world right now. This is the type of alchemy that happens at the Intelligent Content Conference. People like Jeff Eaton, Rachel Lovinger, Joe Pairman, Ann Rockley, Andrea Ames, or Cruce Saunders are good resources to explore the common points between marketing and technical communication.
Thank you Noz for taking the time to answer our questions and moving our research projects forward!

Brainstorming the future of technical communication

M2 CDMM students have been busy this semester, identifying ideas for their research projects. They had a very creative 3-12-3 brainstorm on the future of technical communication, and the result is amazing!

This mind map (PDF) gathers all the ideas that were raised in the session (in French).

We’re now looking forward to hearing them present their research projects at Paris Diderot’s 5th conference on technical communication on Feb 3rd, 2017. Check out the conference program.