CONDUIT 2016: Connecting Minds
Mid-Atlantic Technical Communications Conference
Presented by the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter
Keynote Presentation: 8:45-10:15
Applying Research to Practice – Understanding Users
Presented by Ginny Redish
Technical communicators led the change from system-oriented documentation to user-oriented manuals,
help, websites, and more. We brought content as conversation, content strategy, information design, and
usability to our companies and clients. Through all the changes – from paper to screen, from large screen to
mobiles, from manuals to social media – our goal remains the same: to create the product that works for
To do that, we have to understand ourselves as writers and the people we converse with through our words
When, how, and what do our users and site visitors read — and not read?
What does that mean for how we select, organize, write, design, and test our content?
In this fun and interactive keynote, Ginny will share both research and practical examples that lead to
guidelines you can apply right away.
Ginny has been a passionate evangelist for clear writing and usability for many
years. Through her consulting practice, Redish & Associates, Inc., Ginny helps
clients plan, organize, design, write, and test all types of communications.
Ginny is sought after as a speaker and workshop leader. She is a dynamic
instructor who has trained thousands of writers and subject matter specialists in
the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe. Reviewers rave about Ginny’s
most recent book, Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works,
now in its second edition (2012). She has also written or co-written numerous
articles and book chapters, as well as two of the classic books on usability.
A long-time STC member, Ginny is an STC Fellow and a former member of STC’s Board of Directors.
She is a member of the Washington, DC – Baltimore geographic community and a co-founder of the
Usability and User Experience virtual community. She also serves on the Editorial Board of STC’s peer-
reviewed journal, Technical Communication. Ginny is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds a Ph.D.
in Linguistics from Harvard University.
Session 1: 10:30-11:15
Evolution of the Knowledge Broker
Presented by Bernard Aschwanden & Christopher Ward
The role of technical communicator is ever-changing. Content creators have an opportunity to position
content as the most pivotal asset to a company’s continued success. The world has changed, and users want
instant access to information. Content creators have to evolve into Knowledge Brokers and align their
development process with their company’s business strategy. It’s time to take content and turn it into an
asset that generates revenue and this session shows how it can be done.
Bernard helps companies generate revenue and reduce costs using content. He
guides clients through the best processes to create, manage, and deliver content.
Once content is delivered, he helps socialize the message, understand and act on
feedback, and improve the process and workflow. He is the founder of Publish-
ing Smarter, an Associate Fellow of STC, and President of STC. Bernard has
helped hundreds of companies implement successful solutions. He is focused
on publishing better, publishing faster, and publishing smarter.
Christopher, Director of Sales at WebWorks, specializes in helping small
teams accomplish high things by better aligning departmental processes with
overall company strategies. Christopher’s experience in strategy development
began as an Analyst for U.S. Army Intelligence and then later moved into the
corporate world when working for Dell computers. Over the last five years he
has been working for WebWorks and enjoying getting to know the Technical
Communications industry. His diverse experiences allow Christopher to recog-
nize untapped potential in a company’s overall business strategy and help them
achieve that potential. @webworkschris
Video Tools in Technical Writing – Double Your $$$
Presented by Don Wolf
This session will demonstrate the reasoning and techniques of using digital
video media as a tool while working with subject matter experts and applying it
to the knowledge transfer disciplines of your projects. The attendees will see the
efficiency and accuracy of using such tools when acquiring your data. Video
medium is the fastest growing segment in marketing today and after attending
this session you will be able to use your acquired resources to leverage addi-
tional revenue streams for you and your clients in the bold new world of social
media and digital deliverables.
Don is a communications specialist with an extensive back ground in video production, scriptwriting, pro-
cess documentation, media presentations and technology. He has been part of the media services team at
Grove City College, in Grove City, Pa. for over 6 years as well as a video and content producer in health-
care education and training for over 15 years. He has recently had success as a technical writer for a major
national Energy Service company bringing his skill set to that industry. He is now working as a freelance
consultant producer for his company wolfmediapro.com. He is a past member of STC and is a charter
member of Project Execution Network a Pittsburgh virtual office community of consultants in the technol-
ogy sectors. www.wolfmediapro.com
UX and Cognitive Load
Presented by Cory Burnett
With the increasing load of information passing through our senses, we need to be mindful in minimizing
the cognitive load of our audience when communicating with them. In this talk, we’ll explore what cogni-
tive load is, what it means to our audience and how we can be mindful in mini-
mizing it in our communications.
Cory has been visually active in the digital-world for 17 years. He is currently
the UX design manager at Oracle Corporation leading the team responsible for
the UX design of the Primavera product line. @corymburnett,
Session 2: 11:30-12:15
Tech Comm and Mobile – A Strategic Assessment
Presented by Neil Perlin
We’ve heard a lot about the mobile revolution in recent years. Everyone seems to have a mobile device, or
several. But tech comm itself has only barely moved beyond traditional print and online help. If your
company is thinking about going mobile, how might that affect tech comm?
That’s the subject of this presentation. We’ll start by looking at past tech comm paradigm shifts, like the
adoption of word processing in 1980 and the shift to HTML in 1997 and their effects. We’ll then look
specifically at defining “mobile”, the increase in technical rigor and authorial
simplicity needed to move into mobile, changes in writing, the anticipated loss
of institutional tech comm knowledge, the need for new business models like
iFixit that might take tech comm from a cost center to a revenue generator, and
more. You’ll probably leave this presentation with no specific answers but a lot
to think about.
Neil is an internationally known consultant, strategist, trainer, and developer for
online content ranging from help to mobile. He is Madcap Certified for Flare
and Mimic, Viziapps Certified for the Viziapps Studio app development
platform, and Adobe Certified for RoboHelp. He is the author of multiple books, most recently Advanced
Features in MadCap Flare 10 and Creating Mobile Apps Without Coding.
Neil wrote the Beyond the Bleeding Edge column for Intercom from 2000 to 2015 and is a popular
speaker, most recently as a keynoter at TCUK 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland. You can reach him at
email@example.com. @NeilEric, www.hyperword.com.
Social Media for Technical Communicators
Presented by Ed Marsh
Are you on social media? Do you know which ones you should be on? Should I have a blog? Do you think
it’s all just a bit silly?
Ed Marsh, a 20–year technical writer, shares his experience with self-promotion, blogging, podcasting, and
with sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Ed has been a technical communicator since 1994, creating printed manuals,
online help, cheat sheets, technical illustrations, eLearning modules, web sites,
and more. He is also experienced in information architecture and content
management. He generally dislikes writing in the third person.
Drupal enthusiast; using the CMS, he created the content news aggregation site
Most recently, Ed created the Content Content podcast, featuring interviews
with technical communicators, content marketers, and content strategists. He is also a homebrewer and for-
mer director of the Secaucus High School Marching Band. @edmarsh, edmarsh.com
UX Methods Made Easy: Card Sorting
Presented by Cheri Mullins
This session will include a brief overview of one method used in user
experience research, generally referred to as card sorting, and will engage
attendees in a hands-on card sorting exercise. We will wrap up with some
guidelines of how–and when–to use card sorting in day-to-day situations.
Cheri is a consultant in multiple areas of user experience, information architec-
ture, technical communication, and instructional design and training. Her
research focuses on the intersections of culture, communication, and technol-
Session 3: 1:45-2:30
Upgrading Legacy Projects to Handle Responsive Output
Presented by Neil Perlin
Responsive output opens new venues for tech comm; we can create outputs for almost any device from
PCs to smartphones. But old projects can be hard to make responsive because they often have features that
don’t support responsive well – local formatting, graphics inserted using hidden tables, fixed width tables,
excessive content, information in large, static tables, and more. And what about “click” versus “tap” as the
This presentation first reviews responsive output’s rationale and technology. It then looks at technical and
design problems and presents solutions. Finally, we’ll look at some code that can be used in topics and a
CSS to automatically change “click” to “tap” as the screen scales, solving a longstanding writing problem.
You’ll leave this presentation with a solid understanding of how to deal with legacy project problems and
how to improve your projects going forward.
Getting A Head in the Clouds
Presented by Timothy Esposito
Heard about the “cloud”? Wondering what it entails and how you can use it? Can’t tell Google Talk from
Google Hangouts, or Google Drive from Google Groups? This session covers several popular cloud
solutions and how to get most use out of free services.
Getting a Head in the Cloud will demystify the many cloud options available to the everyday computer
user. The objective is to clearly list out common applications, explain their strengths and weaknesses, and
then show the audience to effectively use the tools to their best advantage.
To start, Tim will discuss the concept behind Cloud computing. Companies offer Cloud solutions for both
everyday consumers and at the corporate level. The various features offered by several prominent Cloud
sites, such as DropBox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, will be explained. Costs will be compared for extra
storage opportunities. The next section will delve into Google technology and how it works together.
Google offers many different tools for free, and keeping them all straight while using them efficiently can
be overwhelming. This presentation will break down the commonly used applications and show how they
all work together.
Another aspect of Cloud is synchronizing web browsers between machines. A brief discussion of Xmarks
will show how user data can by safely synchronized between browsers. With all this technology on our
computers, it is good to know that it is also available on mobile devices. Several
of the Cloud tools and their respective mobile apps will be explained. Finally,
Tim will summarize how all of these tools can work together to make your per-
sonal or work data management easier.
Timothy is a Principal Technical Writer at Oracle Corporation where he works
on logistics software. An STC member since 2005, for the Philadelphia Metro
Chapter Timothy has served as Scholarship Chair, Treasurer, Webmaster, and
was elected Vice President. Additionally Tim has participated in the 2012 and
2016 STC budget review committees, helped plan the STC NY-PMC-Houston regional competition, and
assisted in organizing and running the PMC Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference, all while
managing the technology for the chapter. In 2015 he won the Distinguished Chapter Service Award.
Mastering Error Messages
Presented by Craig Borchardt
Error messages are a critical part of a user’s experience with a software product. When done poorly, they
can render even well-constructed software unusable; however, when done well, error messages almost
invisibly can add elegance, supporting users when they don’t understand and smoothing over the rough
spots within a poorly considered product. Error messages are definitely one area
where writers can have a tremendous impact in a product.
What can be done to improve the design, creation, and authoring of error mes-
sages? This high-level talk will touch on writing standards, development pro-
cesses, as well as issues with translation and mobile products.
Craig is a program manager who is responsible for the error message develop-
ment for Oracle Fusion Applications, working in collaboration with product
managers, writers, translators, and the UX team. He has been at Oracle since
1995 and holds graduate degrees in Professional and Technical Writing from
Carnegie Mellon University as well as Cognitive Psychology from Columbia University. He has com-
pleted additional studies in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.
Session 4: 2:45-3:30
Your Country Needs You: Communicators in the U.S. Government
Presented by David Caruso
Skilled communication professionals are in high demand within the U.S. Government. Real position
descriptions and job postings will be decoded in this presentation with insider tips on how you can build a
resume that will get you an interview. With more than 12 years of Federal service, David will offer insights
of what core communication skills he has found most valuable and what he
This presentation will also help the mid-career professional who may be look-
ing to try something new or just add more value to their workplace
David is a Senior Member and President of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of
STC. He works as a Health Communication Specialist for the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Since 2008 he has been instru-
mental in developing the NIOSH social media program which now boasts more
than 20 channels and 200k+ followers/friends. In 2013-2014 he served as an
internal communication consultant for NIOSH looking and capacity within one
research division. Most recently he was named Senior Health Communication Specialist and Coordinator
for the NIOSH Oil and Gas Safety and Health Research Program. @DCCD, www.linkedin.com/in/health-
Public Speaking Skills: A Project Manager’s Best Friend
Presented by David Zimmer
As project managers, we spend 90% of our time communicating: writing, talking, presenting or reporting
to our stakeholders. One of the most influential forms of communicating with our audiences is in a public
setting, whether it be a formal presentation, meeting, a gathering of people around the coffee machine or
wherever more than two people congregate. Public speaking done well enhances our credibility,
leadership, influence and reputation. Public speaking done poorly puts us back
in the pack of the other average people.
David has learned over the years that simple tips and tricks used by some of the
best speakers work for him, whether he was with an informal group of
colleagues, in tense meetings with stakeholders, or as a keynote presenter at
large industry conferences or as the invited speaker for the CIO briefings of
executives from the leading companies in Australia.
In this session, David helps you understand critical aspects of public speaking
and provides his secret tips and tricks making you a more influential speaker.
David A. Zimmer, PMP has been speaking publicly and professionally for the past 20 years. Over that
time, he has studied the art of speaking publicly, watched numerous professional and persuasive speakers,
and developed a bag of tips and tricks he uses to engage his audience. He credits his high ratings from
audiences to simple techniques taught in this seminar. He has given keynote speeches to large audiences
domestically and overseas. He provides instruction to corporations and companies in project management,
business analysis and change management practices, leadership, public speaking, team building, and con-
flict resolution. He is an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania State University – Abington. @dazimmer,
www.ameagle.com, www.PersonalPMTutor.net, www.TheProjectProfessors.com
Technical Communicators and Translators: Let’s Speak the Same Language!
Presented by Myriam Siftar
With ever-increasing globalization, more and more technical materials are destined to be localized in at
least one foreign language. Preparing materials with translation in mind can save a great deal of time and
money during the translation process itself and make you a hero at your
company or to your client.
But what does this mean? It’s not just the writing itself that is involved; things
like the authoring tools, style guides, controlled language and terminology
management, organizing your materials for ease of reuse, and choice of
graphics and icons.
This presentation will help technical communicators understand how they can
have a positive impact on the localization process and its outcomes. Examples
covering multiple language pairs and industry sectors will be discussed.
Myriam is the president of MTM LinguaSoft, a professional language services company, which she
founded in 2003 after a successful career as an information technology consultant. Myriam was born in
Paris and received degrees in computer science and Management in France, before coming to the United
States where she also obtained an MBA from Drexel University.
Her cross-cultural experience and her knowledge of business and technology proved a strong basis for
building her own language company. Her background has also made her an engaging and effective speaker
on topics such as cross-cultural communication and website globalization for many organizations, includ-
ing the World Trade Centers of Greater Philadelphia, Central Pennsylvania and Delaware; the Greater
Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the US Export Assistance Centers of the Department of Com-
merce in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She has also spoken previously on translation-related topics to the
Philadelphia Metro Chapter of the Society for Technical Communications and at the Practical Conference
on Communication (PCOC), a regional STC conference in Tennessee. @mtmlinguasoft, www.mtmlingua-
Closing Session and Door Prizes: 3:35-4:15
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Thank You for Hosting This Event:
Please Give Your Continued Support To All of Our
A Special Thanks to the Giant Community Center for
Providing Space for this Event:
Jessica Rineer - Conference Chair
Jessie Mallory - President
Tim Esposito - Vice President
Staci Bender - Publicity Chair
Harrison Brown - Website Support
Chelsea Miller - Sponsorship Coordinator
David Calloway - Past Conference Chair, Volunteer
Ellen O’Brien - Treasurer
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