Get me working for you
I offer a range of knowledge-based services to employers:
- A decade's experience in writing and editing, including bulletproof knowledge of every rule and exception of English orthography
- Eight years online, with HTML programming skills
- Considerable expertise in content origination and management online
- Knowledge of graphic design and typography honed over more than 20 years of avid reading, published criticism, and work experience
- Multisystemic computer expertise
- Broad knowledge, maturity, and good sense
A concise résumé is available online, but here are the high points.
- Online since 1991 – well before the Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee. I go so far back that my first E-address was
- Extensive expertise in content origination and development. More than just writing, I know what works online and what doesn't – and can back up my opinions with empirical data. See my article on content at E-commerce sites at A List Apart for an example of the thoroughness of my approach.
- Multisystemic knowledge: Can read an write mail and HTML, FTP files, surf, and read and write news in Unix character-mode applications or Windows or Macintosh graphical programs (or both at once).
- Have run my own Web site since 1995. Programmed it from scratch without the use of WYSIWYG editors. Emphasis on usability, accessibility, and standards compliance (see site FAQ).
- Managed online projects in Web-standards development, including the introduction of new SGML data types for accessibility and accessible image markup in HTML 4.0.
- Can produce standards-compliant HTML (at 2.0 or 4.0 levels) from scratch, and also have experience with graphical HTML editors like Dreamweaver, Home Page, and Composer.
- Member of the HTML Writers Guild. Frequent contributor to Web- and usability-related mailing lists, including Webdesign-L, A List Apart, and CHI-Web.
- Familiar with browser limitations and with cross-browser incompatibilities. Unusually committed to testing candidate pages, doing so in up to 11 different combinations of platform and browser. Familiar with trends in wireless IP, including WAP and Bluetooth.
- Au courant with current trends in E-commerce, including banner ads, sponsorship, micropayments, and wireless IP – and with what does and doesn't work.
- Significant corpus of published articles on Web- and technology-related topics. See, for example, stories on usability, telephones and telecommunications, accessibility (including Web access), and the politics of Internet domain names. (Or see list of all available articles.)
- In 1994, wrote a 20-odd-instalment how-to-get-online series for the Toronto Star newspaper, along with more specialized stories concernin online information sources and online communities for vertical-market publications like MacUser and NetGuide.
- A commitment to online community-building through my role as administrator of seven mailing lists (of a lifetime total of ten), which have shepherded more than 20,000 messages over the years.
My design skills and expertise are ideal for a client who does not require a registered graphic designer but rather someone with multidisciplinary abilities and writing and editing skills, and who also knows every rule and exception of English orthography.
- Followed graphic design and typography for more than 20 years – from the days when phototypesetting was new and a new release from ITC was the highlight of the season.
- Worked in the trenches of the type trade, typesetting copy for ads, books, packaging, and beyond, in English and French, the hard way – using code-driven typesetting equipment. Used desktop-publishing software (chiefly PageMaker and FrameMaker) since PageMaker came out in the mid-'80s, and still have PageMaker 6.52 fluency. Specialize in long, structured documents, and have experience marking up entire book-length manuscripts in stylesheets and conversion of documents to HTML from a range of sources, from messy ASCII files to Word documents to DTP files.
- Written dozens of articles on type and design for all the major design rags, including Print, Publish, Applied Arts, Eye, and others. Also wrote design articles for the lay press, including an occasional typography column and many feature articles for the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper. Edited books on graphic and industrial design.
- Over 380 articles (over 200 of them available online) published in more than three dozen periodicals, including the Economist,
BusinessWeek, the Village Voice, Popular Science, Details, Entertainment Weekly, and The Face. Wrote columns – weekly, monthly, or occasional – for Xtra, the Toronto Star, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
- Covered multiple beats: graphic and industrial design, pop music and video, film, disability issues, social issues in sports, science and technology, and computers, the Internet, and la vie online.
- As a busy freelance writer–editor, developed considerable skills in time and project management; see below.
- Unusual skills in making scientific or technical topics understandable to lay readers, and in writing clean copy generally. The majority of my articles were published essentially verbatim, an achievement few other journalists can boast. I received accolades from readers on the clarity of my technical exposition – e.g., in explaining Internet concepts. These skills apply equally to editing other people's work to make it understandable. Had I edited it, each and every reader would have understood every page of A Brief History of Time.
Considerable on-the-job and freelance experience in managing projects, both inside and outside the technology or software fields. Some examples:
- In a post with a government ministry, I juggled day-to-day admin work with a long-term project, a conference that involved flying in project-team members from every hamlet in Ontario, feeding them (meeting dietary requirements), and making sure the day's agenda was carried out without hitches. Planning for those tasks, including budget approval, was carried out while documentation for the entire event was being written by team members and me (and line-edited, and typed, and typeset, and printed and duplicated, and audiotaped, in multiple iterations, entirely by me). As such, the project epitomized multiple parallel processes, dependencies, and budgeting. Indeed, my conference saved the public purse $2,000 over a competing plan and went off without so much as a missed taxi ride. And while all this was going on, I also worked as the project-team leader's de facto executive assistant.
- A decade's freelance journalism taught respect for deadlines. In fact, I've never knowingly missed a deadline, and I once had to research, write, proof, and file 11 articles in 14 days for various publications – and met every deadline. Far from a solitary task, journalism involves:
- Tracking down photos and illustrations or creating it independently (I'm a published photographer who illustrated some of his own articles)
- Locating sources and persuading them to provide information – sometimes sources are initially unwilling or unable to speak, and securing cooperation is a skill I developed over the years, even with confidential sources
- Keeping in touch with editors before, during, and after story assignment, to ward off problems (like uncooperative sources or budget issues) and to remain on the same wavelength
These tasks – of cajoling, cultivating, and sleuthing – are directly transferable to Web projects, where contributors have varying degrees of interest in and commitment to a project but must all be brought to the table peaceably.
- Management of my own Web site has involved navigation and usability planning and implementation (including a wholesale overhaul within the last year), direct HTML coding and conversion of source texts as the HTML spec evolved, addition of new topic areas, and locating links (in an extreme case, over 240 of them).
I've completed a few site critiques and usability analyses for potential clients. My approach in usability analysis is to simply attempt to perform a common task, like add a review or conduct a search. Not rocket science, is it? But I take careful notes and am an experienced user, and have technical knowledge, meaning I catch mistakes designers miss and can put them into words. And I speak very plainly.
Note also my widely-read usability/content analysis of E-commerce sites. You'll never look at a Web site selling compact discs the same way again.
I'm available for online or print writing and editing, Web production and producing (not quite the same thing), and accessibility consulting. Interested? Drop me a line.