Tag Archives: Technical Writing

  • 11

Unpacking My Takeaways from #STC11

Category:Infosec Communicator,STC,STC Rochester,Summit,techcomm,Uncategorized Tags : 

Open SuitcaseIt’s been a little less than two weeks since the Society for Technical Communication Summit in Sacramento ended. Summit was an intensive four day immersion in the multifaceted profession of technical communications. I wanted to share what I found really important about the event, before the memories fade. I’ll start unpacking my takeaways here and in future posts.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to discuss what I’m unpacking and share what you unpacked when you got home by commenting on this post!

Here’s my Top Ten list of takeways:

  1. The strength (and pride) of STC lies in its communities. Over the last few years there have been questions about the value that geographic chapters provide in an era when people are increasingly connected online. The Pacesetter Awards show that innovation comes from the grassroots level, whether from a geographic chapter or SIG. Some of the communities have done outstanding work in building and documenting solutions that can be applied across STC. For example, the Carolina chapter broke new ground in providing webinars for their geographically diverse membership and in partnering with Southeastern Michigan and Rochester to co-deliver online content.
  2. Relationships between communities bear fruit. STC recognized several chapters and SIGs with Community Achievement Awards and Pacesetter Awards. What I found interesting about the communities receiving the awards was that key leaders of these communities consulted with, counseled, mentored, and exchanged ideas with each  other. These awards aren’t a competition. The recipients found ways to build each other up during the year. My conversations with community leaders during the year sparked much of what the Rochester chapter accomplished and helped us move forward in unanticipated ways.
  3. STC will continue to move forward as it provides value, although with an increasingly new base. Although I believe membership is down slightly from last year, STC is operating in the black and is continuing to add new members. (Personally, I believe the tide has turned.) The launch of key initiatives such as certification and MySTC should have a continuing impact as we move forward.
  4. Twitter played (and will continue to play) a key role at Summit. Twitter was used in two chief ways at Summit: to tweet and retweet session content and to facilitate face-to-face networking opportunities. The Twitter stream using the #stc11 hashtag provided an easy way to find out what was happening. There were more than 5000 tweets associated with the #stc11 hashtag in less than a week. That’s a lot of communication.
  5. There are some really committed and capable people in and moving into community leadership. I’m very impressed with the earnestness and ability of the people I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with during Leadership Day and afterwards. I’ve only gotten to know the leadership of Toronto, Philadelphia, Carolina, and Southeastern Michigan at all well. What I’m seeing in those chapters is encouraging and demonstrates a desire to serve their members and to  strengthen STC as a whole. They’re not in it for their own glory. They’re in it to make us better.
  6. Leadership Day provides a foundation of knowledge and, more importantly, connections for new community leaders. I can’t overstress the importance of Leadership Day for the new and current leaders. Last year, I found the sessions explaining the intricacies of community leadership for new leaders absolutely critical to moving our chapter forward. This year I was able to participate in the progressions where community leaders shared their insights for success (and their struggles), providing sparks for new ideas and solutions for overcoming common, but vexing issues we face. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the connections I made at Leadership Day last year became my chief contacts in discussing issues and opportunities at the community level.
  7. MySTC can play a key role in strengthening community. MySTC provides a social networking platform on which members (and invitees) can share ideas, “friend” each other, create discussion and task groups, share photos and videos, and CONNECT with other members. We’re still figuring out how to use it. It’s not perfect, but it’s really great to have an easy way to connect with members outside and inside our current communities. The innovators among us will jump in and determine ways for us to work collaboratively.
  8. The vote on student membership rights at the business meeting was profound. Student members of STC were never enfranchised to vote in international elections, although their rights varied at the community level. The business meeting saw discussion and a vote on a proposed amendment to give them the vote. The proponents for student voting rights spoke passionately when presenting their arguments for passage of the student voting amendment. Opponents, although fewer, were articulate in their defense of the status quo. The amendment required a two-thirds vote of the members present. The amendment passed handily and the atmosphere in the room was charged. I did not expect the feeling of accomplishment we had when the amendment was approved.
  9. Certification may help the profession, especially by providing credentials for technical communicators who do not have degrees that relate clearly to the profession. I have degrees in anthropology, church history, and am ABD on my PhD in early modern European history. This is not obvious preparation for a career in technical communications. I was concerned about credentials so that I could get past initial screenings. Certification can provide credentials for those of us who have “non-standard” educational backgrounds.
  10. The content of the sessions at Summit was great. Isn’t it interesting that the content at Summit was the last thing I listed in my top ten? I enjoyed (and learned something in) almost all of the sessions I attended. However, for me the chief benefit of the conference was establishing and strengthening connections. These people are my techcomm tribe. They get it.
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  • 20

Twitter Use at #STC11 Summit

Category:Infosec Communicator,Social Networking,STC,Summit,Uncategorized Tags : 

Last year, I kicked off this blog by posting about Twitter Use at the #STC10 Summit in Dallas. I thought it would be interesting to look at Twitter use at #STC11 as well.

Methodology

I’ve only analyzed results from May 13-21, 2011. However, use of the #STC11 hashtag occurred for months preceding this year’s Summit conference. (This is a departure from last year, when the use of tweets with the #STC10 hashtag started much later.) Because my Google RSS feed for #stc11 was unable to handle the volume of tweets this year, I relied on three sources for this post:

Graphical Portrayals of #STC11 Information

Wordle: #STC11 Summitb

Here’s a Wordle of the tweets containing the hashtag #stc11 from 5/13 through 5/21/11. If you’re unfamiliar with Wordle, it produces a wordcloud where the frequency of word usage determines the size of the words in the graphic.

Karen Mardahl*(@kmdk) began curating the #STC11 tweets in late April. The two graphics and lists below are taken from her archive.

#STC11 Tweets by User

#STC11 Tweets by User (from Karen Mardahl)

Top Twelve Twitter Handles (% Total Tweets)

  1. 9.55 % by torridence (Roger R.)
  2. 8.23% by techcom (Tony Chung)
  3. 7.88% by sushiblu (Jamie Gillenwater)
  4. 7.77% by bwoelk (Ben Woelk)
  5. 5.28% bytechcommdood (Bill Swallow)
  6. 4.89% by mojoguzzi (Joe Sokohl)
  7. 4.5% by rjhoughton (Rachel Houghton)
  8. 4.47% by stc_rochester (STC Rochester)
  9. 4.43% by RayGallon (Ray Gallon)
  10. 4.31% by willsansbury (Will Sansbury)
  11. 4.31% by afox98 (Alyssa Fox)
  12. 3.42% by ninjawritermama (Sarah Baca)

Selected Keywords (Occurrences)

Most-Commonly-Used-Words

Most Commonly Used Words (from Karen Mardahl)

  1. STCorg
  2. Techcomm
  3. STC11LD
  4. STC
  5. Summit
  6. &
  7. Session
  8. Content
  9. I’m
  10. Thanks

Observations

Again, contrary to some expectations, “beer” was not the most commonly used word in the tweets appearing only 13 times. (This was the same number of occurences as #stc10, but a much lower frequency.)

I’m not sure if there’s any correlation, but “karaoke” also appeared 14 times. The last two years have seen almost equal occurrences of beer and karaoke. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Conclusions

Just like last year, Twitter provided a sense of community and a “conference within a conference.” Most tweets were positive, implying that many of the Twitter users enjoyed the conference.

I spent much of the conference meeting F2F with Tweeps gained from #stc10. If you’re not using Twitter at conference, I urge you to do so. You’ll find that it will create a new sense of comraderie with other Tweeters, and besides, that’s where all of the really cool STC people hang out!

I’ve curated the tweets into a 341-page MSWord document. This “raw” data is available upon request.

What are your thoughts and observations?

Ben

Postscript (5/28/11)

Vanessa Wilburn put together a more detailed analysis of the Twitter usage at #STC10. Her work focuses on the subject matter of the tweets. She found that after removing the “chitchat,” the twitter streams paralleled the key topics of the conference and that many of the tweets relayed content from or observations about specific sessions.


  • 0

Communications Liftoff! Rocketing Your Community to the Stars

Category:Infosec Communicator,Presentations,Social Networking,STC,STC Rochester,Summit,Uncategorized Tags : 

Society for Technical Communication Summit Conference Leadership Day Presentation, May 15, 2011

Join the discussion on MySTC at https://ow.ly/51WfG

Communications liftoff! rocketing your community v3[gigya width=”425″ height=”355″ src=”https://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=communicationsliftoffrocketingyourcommunityv3-110516012143-phpapp02&stripped_title=communications-liftoff-rocketing-your-community-v3-7976829&userName=bwoelk” quality=”high” flashvars=”gig_lt=1305529009890&gig_pt=1305529176796&gig_g=1&gig_n=wordpress” wmode=”tranparent” allowfullscreen=”true” ]

View more presentations from Ben Woelk

  • 1

Call for Proposals, Spectrum 2011 (April 1, 2011)

Category:Infosec Communicator,STC,STC Rochester Tags : 

Spectrum 2011 – Building Better Solutions: A Skills Symposium
Rochester Chapter, Society for Technical Communication (STC)

Submittal deadline: December 17, 2010

You and your colleagues are invited to submit proposals for Spectrum 2011. Spectrum is the annual educational conference of the Rochester Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

STC is an international professional organization that seeks to promote education, communication, and shared resources among communications professionals such as instructional designers, writers, web designers, graphic artists, social media developers, and others who deal with technical information.

Who attends and speaks at Spectrum?

Spectrum is a regional professional conference and generally draws attendees from New York, Eastern Canada, and surrounding areas. Attendance in past years has normally ranged from 100-180 attendees. This year will be the chapter’s 52nd consecutive Spectrum conference, making it the longest running STC chapter conference. Speakers are selected from local presenters and speakers from around the country who have expertise in subject matter relevant to technical communications professionals, and pertinent to the conference theme.

When and where is Spectrum 2011?

This year’s conference will be held on April 1st at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (CIMS) located at 111 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623-5608.

For more information, visit the STC-Rochester website.

I’ve participated in this conference for a number of years and helped organize it last year. We consistently receive high marks from participants and have been told that the conference is every bit as valuable as the larger international conferences.

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  • 2

Writing the Next Chapter

Category:Infosec Communicator,Leadchange,STC,STC Rochester,Uncategorized Tags : 

Change is necessary but change is uncomfortable.

We should ignore the past. We should value the past. We should just do it. We should learn from past efforts. Do we dash forward, make our mistakes and sort things out as we go? Do we assess the path forward and move carefully down it? How strong should our sense of urgency be? How fast can and should we move forward? How do we mold individual desires into a shared vision?

We need to attract new members. We want to retain existing members. We have many senior members who have contributed faithfully to STC Rochester. We have new members who may not know our past but who are willing to pour themselves into redefining our organization and positioning ourselves for the future.

These are some of the issues we face as the council charged with stewarding the Rochester Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. We are a chapter with a long history of excellence. It’s time to write the next chapter.

I’m trying to find a path that allows us to retain the  distinctiveness of what has made us STC Rochester while moving to a model that is sustainable and will foster growth. Part of this path forward includes implementing a marketing strategy. We’ve received our marketing plan from Neil Hair’s RIT Marketing Concepts class. The plan identifies key opportunities and strategies for growth. We’ve set up a subgroup to study the plan and bring forward recommendations to our October council meeting.

Our kickoff meeting is September 21st. We’re inviting prospective members and want to be sure we can articulate why they should join STC. There is a good bit of angst surrounding this.

We need to remember to have fun.

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