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STC PMC Newsletter 2004-02


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STC PMC Newsletter February/March 2004

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STC PMC Newsletter 2004-02

  1. 1. February/March 2004 Vol. 38, No. 4 On Attending the STC Annual Conference—A Virtual Discourse by Steve Lungren he 2004 STC Annual Conference is coming to Baltimore, MD, May 9-12, so there may not be a better opportunity for you to attend this international affair. With approximately 400 members, our chapter should be well represented in Baltimore. STC-PMC is even chartering a bus to take you there! Are you someone who’s never been to the STC Annual Conference, or haven’t been to one recently? Maybe you’re wondering why you should attend, or how to prepare if you do go. What can you expect to gain from your conference experience? Technical communication professionals from across the country and around the world participate in the STC Annual Conference, and a generous group of them have provided us with their thoughts on these questions. Discover what they have to say about their conference experiences in this virtual conversation... Why do you attend the STC Annual Conference? Barb Zeller, East Wayzata, MN— “This is the best/most inexpensive way to receive training in the tools I use, and the practices of technical writing. It is also a good way to learn about advances in technologies. We often become insulated in our own little work environment and are unaware of what is going on outside our world. It is also good for networking.” Lou Martindale, Tampa, FL—“To educate myself on the latest practices, to network with my peers, to view award winning samples of documentation, and to obtain information on various products in the marketplace.” Gretchen Stahlman, Fairport, NY— “I attend because it's my best avenue of learning new things about technical communication and because I get to hobnob with my fellow tech writers.” Rhonda Bracey of Perth, Western Australia—“Professional development, networking, training, keeping up to date with what's happening, getting exposure to things I don't always get to do or try out in my daily work.” Katie Roberts, Cincinnati, OH— “One good thing is the price to attend— it is usually much less than other conferences that the engineering and sales/marketing group attend.” Barbara Komp, Evanston, IL—“I'm a lone writer and the conference is one of my opportunities to get feedback from fellow writers. Each year the conference has a different flavor and the topics in the tech sessions and the opening/closing sessions provide me with more insight into my chosen field.” How do you prepare, and how do you choose? The three-day Annual Conference includes hundreds of presentations, with multiple sessions held at the same time; it can be difficult to decide which ones to attend. Barbara K.—“I spend enough time before the week reading the schedule, highlighting the sessions that seem interesting, reading about the (Continued on page 8) In This Issue Features 1 On Attending the STC Annual Conference—A Virtual Discourse 2 2003 STC-PMC Online Communication Competition 5 Information Modeling QuickStart Seminar 6 Going to the STC Annual Conference? Columns 2 Editor’s Voice 3 President’s Podium 4 Book Review 6 Employment Committee 7 Member Spotlight 10 Crossword Puzzle
  2. 2. NEWS & VIEWS 2 February/March 2004 Editor’s Voice It’s Your Turn... What an Opportunity! by Lori Corbett Hey y’all, it’s that time of year again. “What time?” you ask. Listen as I tell you the how to ensure STC-PMC remains vital and beneficial for all our members. All “healthy” STC chapters hold annual elections for open offices. Usually, these elections are held in the early spring to coincide with the STC elections. This way, all newly elected officers can attend the leadership sessions at the STC Annual Conference. “What does this mean to me?” you might ask. Perhaps you’ve been a member for several years, attend the odd monthly meeting, maybe even attended the chapter’s annual conference or the STC Annual Conference. But I’m willing to bet that YOU have ideas or glimmers of ideas that could greatly benefit the chapter’s members. I’m happy to report that Steve Lungren (our conscientious treasurer) has agreed to continue in his leadership role for another year. This leaves the following positions available for this coming year’s elections: ❏ President ❏ Vice President ❏ Secretary ❏ Nominations Think about it. It’s your turn to get involved and help lead the STC-PMC as we morph into the future of technical communications. C’mon; what are you waiting for? If you’d like more information before “throwing your hat into the ring,” feel free to contact me or any of the current office holders. If after reading this editorial, you feel you are not quite ready to hold an elective office, consider working on a committee. The following committees are all actively seeking additional members: ❏ Meetings ❏ Conference ❏ Employment ❏ Newsletter Now is the perfect time to take opportunity by the horns and increate your involvement in our chapter. ■ Newsletter Staff Managing Editor Lori Corbett Layout Editor Rose Marie Sosnowy (610) 792-4031 Associate Editors Al Brown (856) 222-7427 Rebecca Richardson Mary Shaw Contributing to this Issue Jill Cassidy (215) 590-9815 Giacomo DeAnnuntis Zsolt Olah Gloria Reisman (610) 660-5118 Lois Shank Mike Sharp (610) 854-2141 Submissions and Reprints You may reprint original material appearing in News & Views, as long as you acknowledge the source and author and send us a copy of the publication containing the reprint. ISSN 1078-9952. News & Views, published six times per year, is the official publication of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of STC. We encourage letters, articles, and other items for publication. Note: By submitting an article, you implicitly grant a license to this newsletter to run the article and for other STC publications to reprint it without permission. Unless otherwise noted, copyrights for all newsletter articles belong to the authors. The design and layout of this newsletter are copyright STC, 2003. Address submissions or comments to Lori Corbett, Managing Editor, News & Views, 834 Westridge Drive, Phoenixville, PA, 19460, phone (610) 382-8683; email Toolbox We produce News & Views with Frame- Maker 6.0 and Acrobat 6.0 on various Pentium computers. News & Views 2003 STC-PMC Online Communication Competition Congratulations to Award Winners: Award certificates will be distributed at the STC-PMC Conference on Saturday, March 20th. Thank you to this year's judges. This year, we exchanged entries with STC's Middle Tennessee Chapter (MTC) for judging. These judges reviewed the entries from MTC: Also, STC-PMC extends a thank you to Laura Liles of STC-MTC. Laura coodinated the review of Philly Metro’s entries by the Tennessee judges. ■ Karen McArthur and John Ward, Unisys, Award of Excellence for Unisys Storage Sentinel Demo Emily Shoup and Beth Bornhoeft, Unisys, Award of Excellence for Word-CBA Help Diane M. Wylie, TA Instruments, Award of Merit for TA Instruments QDMA Online Help Jane A. Phillips, Price Systems, L.L.C., Award of Excellence for PRICE TruePlanner Help Marc Green Steve Lungren Rob Wolfe Todd Cameron Alison Sudhalter Brian Winter Becky Worley Donn DeBoard
  3. 3. February/March 2004 3 NEWS & VIEWS President’s Podium Opportunity Is Knocking by Nad Rosenberg hat an opportunity— two excellent technical communications conferences in our own backyard! Our Chapter’s Conference First, there is our chapter’s annual conference, Morphing into the Future with STC, in Great Valley on March 19th, which will feature a keynote address by internationally known speaker, Ann Rockley. This will be followed by a full day of interesting sessions and panel discussions. (For more information about the chapter’s conference, see our chapter’s web site The Society’s Annual Conference Then, there’s the Society’s annual conference, Navigating the Future of Technical Communication, which will be held in Baltimore from May 9–12. In less than two hours (by car, bus, or train), you can arrive at what is probably the world’s largest international technical communications’ conference. The conference hasn’t been this close to us in years. And that fact alone should provide a major incentive for you to attend. The minimal travel expenditure should make it easier to convince your management that you need to go to this conference—and now’s the time to start lobbying for it—if you haven’t done so already. (For an inexpensive way to get to the conference, check out the article entitled, “Going to the STC Annual Conference?” on p. 6.) For those of you who have never attended the Society’s annual conference, you are in for quite an experience! First of all, just seeing thousands of people from all over the country—and all over the world—who are working in the same profession you are is amazing in itself. Then, when you start talking to these people, you realize they have many of the same experiences, issues, and concerns that you do. In addition to being incredibly validating, meeting all of these fellow technical communicators often provides you with new solutions and creative ideas. And of course there’s the added benefit of striking up friendships with professional colleagues around the globe. Then there’s the job opportunity angle. The Society’s annual conference always includes a booth with late-breaking job postings. Further, you can network with thousands of people, some of whom may keep you in mind for that next opening. Best of all, there are the sessions— more than you can imagine. Probably your greatest challenge in Baltimore will be choosing which sessions to attend. (For a list of all sessions and information about the conference, go to http:// You will also have the opportunity to see many new products and services demonstrated at the vendor exposition. Why You Need To Attend What you can learn at these two conferences more than justifies the cost of admission. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to write that memo to your management requesting their support for your attendance at these outstanding (and very close) professional events. So good luck and I hope you’ll come over and chat with me in Great Valley in March, and then in Baltimore in May. ■ Chapter Officers President Nad Rosenberg (856) 848-6593 Vice President Sheila Marshall (610) 933-9573 Treasurer Steve Lungren (267) 620-2421 Secretary Jill Cassidy (215) 590-9815 Immediate Past President Jeff Stein (856) 728-1254 Region 1 Director/Sponsor Jon Baker (978) 443-3049 Chapter Committee Managers Employment Giacomo DeAnnuntis (215) 482-1255 Programs Gloria Reisman (610) 660-5118 Julia Margulies (610) 397-2448 Membership Mike Sharp (856) 854-2141 News & Views Lori Corbett Nominating Mike Sharp (856) 854-2141 Web site Lois Shank Online Competition Donn DeBoard (484) 595-6216 Marc Green (610) 358-0631 Brian Winter (610) 640-4200 Address correspondence for the Philadelphia Metro chapter of STC to STC-PMC, P.O. Box 60069, Philadelphia, PA 19102-0069. Mission Statement: Designing the Future of Technical Communication. The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is an organization dedicated to advancing technical communication. Membership is open to those employed in, interested in, or concerned with the profession of technical writing, publishing, or associated disciplines. Contact STC at 901 N. Stuart St., Suite 904, Arlington, VA 22203, (703) 522-4114 or STC-PMC Leadership Society for Technical Communication “For more information and a list of all sessions at the STC Annual Conference, go to”
  4. 4. NEWS & VIEWS 4 February/March 2004 Book Review The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint by Al Brown dward Tufte is the conscience of our profession. He is also its gadfly. In a series of brilliantly reasoned and exquisitely produced books, Tufte has argued that simplicity does not equal clarity; that showing numerous relationships among data ensures objective conclusions; and that at its best, presenting data graphically can make relationships clear without sacrificing important detail. In his lecture closing the STC Conference in Anaheim, Professor Tufte railed against what he calls “operating system imperialism,” the tendency of an electronic document’s navigational system to overwhelm the screen and leave little space for content— what he refers to as resolution. In his latest work, Tufte draws a bead on Microsoft PowerPoint. It seems as if everyone from elementary school pupils to CEOs are using PowerPoint to produce reports, sales pitches, and presentations of all kinds. And they all use the same prepackaged templates, regardless of the topic. As Tufte sees it, the style of PowerPoint favors bullet points, which do not show logical relationships among data, and severely limits the number of words on any given slide (information module?). It discourages the use of paragraphs, and even complete sentences; these, of course, include the syntax, the connective tissue of language that expresses relationships among ideas. As a result, information presented in PowerPoint style conceals both the causal assumptions and the analytical structure of an argument. Furthermore, the emphasis on backgrounds, logos, clip art, and other forms of decoration—what Tufte refers to as PowerPoint Phluff— reduces the amount of space available for information on a slide. Typically, only 30% to 40% of the space on a slide is devoted to unique content; the average PowerPoint slide contains only about 40 words. As an example, Tufte turns to the destruction of the Columbia space shuttle. Boeing engineers prepared three reports on possible damage to the shuttle’s wing in PowerPoint format before the disaster. He analyzes a key slide on a two-page spread, pointing out its ambiguities and lack of analysis: “In the reports, every single text-slide uses bullet-outlines with four to six levels of hierarchy. Then another multi-level list, another bureaucracy of bullets, starts afresh for a new slide. How is it that each elaborate architecture of thought always fits exactly on one slide?” The Columbia Accident Investigation Board also pointed out that it frequently received PowerPoint briefings from NASA officials instead of technical papers. For Tufte, the issue is what he calls resolution and others call granularity: the amount of information that can be conveyed in a single graphic image or page. As he puts it, “The quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading. Indeed, at times, the more intense the detail, the greater the clarity and understanding—because meaning and reasoning are contextual. Less is a bore.” The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint provides a good introduction to Tufte’s thought on the presentation of information in graphic form. You'll find it very much at odds with the assumptions behind such current trends as single sourcing and John M. Carroll’s idea of minimalism in technical communication, as laid out in The March 19. Information Modeling QuickStart Seminar. For details about this STC-PMC sponsored one-day seminar, see the write-up on p. 5. March 20. Morphing into the Future with STC, our annual conference. One-day event, beginning with a keynote address by Ann Rockley. Come join fellow technical communicators for a day of learning and networking. Listen to keynote speaker Anne Rockley, of the Rockley Group, talk about the future of technical communications and our changing role in corporate america. For more information and to register, visit our website at April 15. Contracting Panel. What’s contracting really like in the year 2004? If you have become a contractor by default (i.e. laid-off from your job) or chosen the contracting lifestyle, come share your lessons learned, war stories and your wisdom with members! We are looking for panel members who can present some real world experience. Managers who have hired contractors are also welcome to describe the keys to successful contracting. To be on the panel or to recommend panelists, contact Gloria Reisman at 610-660- 5118. May 8–9. STC Annual Conference, Navigating the Future, in Baltimore, MD. Join us on the bus as we travel to and from the STC Annual Conference. For more information about the bus, see the article on p. 6. STC-PMC Calendar (Continued on page 5) . . . the average PowerPoint slide contains only about 40 words.
  5. 5. February/March 2004 5 NEWS & VIEWS February 27–28. The Atlanta Chapter STC will hold its annual regional conference, Currents, at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. Topic steps include learning new skills and tools, contracting, satisfying users, education/professional development, and management. For more information, contact Cheri Crider at or visit the Atlanta chapter’s Website at February 27–29. The American Society for Information Science (ASIS) will hold its Information Architecture Summit 2004—Breaking New Ground, at the Hilton Austin Hotel, in Austin, TX. For more information, contact ASIS at (301) 495-0900 or visit their Website at March 26. The Rochester Chapter STC will hold Spectrum 2004 at the RIT Inn and Conference Center in Rochester, NY, with the theme, “Back to the Future.” For more information, contact Denise D. Pieratti at or visit their Website at March 28–April 1. The American Chemical Society will hold its 227th National Meeting in Anaheim, CA. For more information, contact ACS at or visit their Website at STC and Related Events Around the World Information Modeling QuickStart Seminar Penn State Great Valley Campus—March 19, 2004 Sponsored by the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of the STC Ann Rockley's Information Modeling QuickStart is a one-day workshop designed to teach you the skills of information modeling. Information modeling is a key component of any successful unified content (single source) strategy. Information models formalize the structure of your content, providing the framework upon which the unified content strategy is based. You will learn how to create XML-ready models. Learning materials, lunch, snacks, and a copy of Ann Rockley's new book on content management, Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy, are included in the registration fee. To register, access the registration form at and follow the links to the registration form. ■ You will learn ❏ The business reasons for adopting a unified content strategy ❏ How to create information models ❏ Top-level and in-depth information analysis ❏ How to identify different types of reuse ❏ How to create: 1) Information product models 2) Element models 3) Structural reuse maps 4) Content reuse maps 5) Metadata Objectives At the end of this workshop you will be able to: ❏ Analyze your content ❏ Develop information models Who should attend ❏ Writers ❏ Editors ❏ Publishers ❏ Information Architects ❏ Software Developers ❏ Business and IT Managers Cost Registration for this intense one-day workshop is $400.00 per student. If two or more students register from the same organization, they get a $50 discount per student. Nurnberg Funnel. Tufte favors high- resolution media, such as the printed page, maps, and 35mm photography over the low resolution of the computer screen as embodied in web sites, and—of course—PowerPoint presentations. If this booklet leaves you hungry for more, I highly recommend that you dig into Tufte’s three books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, and Visual Explanations (see the November 2000 issue of News & Views for a review). Like all first-rate teachers, this Yale professor will challenge what you think you know. Edward R. Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. Cheshire. CT.: Graphics Press LLC, 2003. ISBN 0-9613921-5-0. Paperback, $7.00. Available from the author at ■ The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint (Continued from page 4)
  6. 6. NEWS & VIEWS 6 February/March 2004 Going to the STC Annual Conference? by Steve Lungren The STC-PMC charter bus to the STC Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD is confirmed. We'll simply split the cost among the participants. The more folks who join us, the lower the price. Depending on the number of participants, the cost will range from about $18 to $35. Watch the chapter website for more information and to reserve your seat. The STC-PMC bus will depart at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 9, 2004 from Plymouth Meeting. (If anyone has a contact name and number at the DoubleTree Hotel, please send that info to Steve Lungren(, because we would like to meet the bus there. Otherwise, we’ll meet at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.) Figuring that the trip down is only about two hours (especially on Sunday morning), the bus will drop us at the Baltimore Convention Center, probably between 9:00 and 9:30. At the end of the conference, on Wednesday, May 12, the STC- PMC bus is scheduled to depart from the Baltimore Convention Center at 4:30 p.m., returning to Plymouth Meeting. I hope that everyone can make the trip! ■ Take the Bus with Your Fellow STC-PMC Members! Employment Committee Status Report by Giacomo DeAnnuntis ith the beginning of the new year, I thought it would be valuable to review how well the “Careers” function of the STC-PMC Web site is serving our members and the business community. We listed ten jobs during the second half of last year; two of them are still open. The employment committee contacted the remaining eight companies that had listed jobs or contract openings to see if our site was helpful. Here are our findings: ❏ Two positions were filled by STC- PMC members. ❏ One position was filled by a candidate who already worked for the company. ❏ Four positions were filled by candidates who learned about the openings from other sources. ❏ One position was moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where it was filled by an STC member there. It would be nice if I could report that all positions were filled through our listing service. However, the placement of two members out of eight openings in a world filled with powerful and well- known competitors, such as Monster, CareerBuilder, and Job Circle (not to mention the very difficult job market), indicates that we are providing a service that can only increase in value as the economic climate improves. Asked about the value of placing notices on the STC-PMC Website, two managers stated that the STC-PMC Website listings were helpful in obtaining contacts from candidates with the required qualifications. Asked if she would place notices of future openings with the STC-PMC Website, one manager replied. “Absolutely!” As we continue to post openings that can be filled by local chapter members, please be sure to mention that you saw the notice on our Website when applying for these positions. Our goal is to become the first place that companies send their technical writer listings and the first place that chapter members look when they search for their next job or contract. Finally, I want to thank Lois Shank for getting job notices posted on the Website as quickly as I have been getting them to her. Would you like to help work on the Employment Committee? If so, please contact me at (215) 482-1255. ■ STC MEETING EVENT RECEIPTS FOR ALL EVENTS ARE SELF-SERVE FROM THE CHAPTER’S WEBSITE:
  7. 7. February/March 2004 7 NEWS & VIEWS Member Spotlight Barrie Byron—Making Her Presence Known by Jill Cassidy Rolette ou just never know what a day will hold, what news a phone call or email will bring, or who you might meet. Not too long ago I was performing the routine task of sending out what I refer to as an “email blast” to notify STC-PMC members of an upcoming meeting. folks respond with questions, address changes, requests to be removed from the distribution list, or even the “Out of Office” auto- response. This one particular day, I had a response that was so upbeat and friendly that it took me pleasantly by surprise. Barrie Byron, a new chapter member (new to our area), has a vitality that comes through even the coldest digital medium, and I knew I just had to introduce her to the entire chapter via the “Spotlight.” Currently residing in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Barrie originally hails from the land of sunshine and citrus, Palm Beach County, Florida. Since arriving in New Jersey, she has worked at a software company in Mount Laurel, served as a part-time instructor for Penn State’s Professional Studies in Technical Communication program, teaching Technical Writing onsite at a corporate location, and now works at a software company in Princeton. She comes from an extensive background in communication, having graduated from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication. Using her experience to work with weekly and daily newspapers and fishing magazines, Barrie quickly turned her career interests to production. She learned pagination technology, which allowed her to become an applications specialist in- house, then eventually began working for a publishing technology vendor. Barrie earned many globe-trotting miles as she “supported the installation and production use of pagination equipment in small to medium-sized newspapers around the world.” In order to have the chance to become more familiar with her home environment, Barrie opted to write training materials and user manuals for the same equipment she supported. While pursuing her technical communication career in Palm Beach, Barrie decided to join the local chapter of STC in 1997. She cites “STC name recognition” as well as very reasonably priced conferences as a few of the greatest benefits of membership. The story doesn't end there. Barrie did not just become a quiet member of STC, casually attending one or two meetings and passively reading the newsletter. No, she became president of the Palm Beach chapter, as well as holding the posts of Program Committee manager and Public Relations liaison. Again, not one to do anything half-way, not only did Barrie serve as Palm Beach chapter president, but with some incredible teamwork involving the other chapter leaders, the chapter earned the 2002 STC Chapter Achievement Award of Merit, one of her most memorable STC moments. Barrie is no stranger to award ceremonies: she also earned awards in the Florida Technical Communication Competition (FTCC) and served as a judge in 2002 and a judge team leader in 2003 for the STC International Online Communication Competition (IOCC). Since Barrie has many years of valuable technical communication experience from which she can draw, I asked her to reminisce a bit about the field at the time she started and the changes she has witnessed. With the jest that such questions tend to “date the old-timers,” Barrie good-naturedly responded. She remembers the “first” PC and using paper tape, typesetting on a Harris 2200 computer with an online display and no memory. (This dramatically enhanced her typing skills!) One of her first publishing jobs was developing photo typesetting film on a coffee warmer! Barrie advanced technically at lightning speed, moving from XT terminals to PCs, then working with Reveal Codes while writing documentation in WordPerfect, moving on to templates in MS Word, and then to being one of the first to use RoboHelp. Barrie notes that the required “skill sets for technical communicators have expanded to include industry and publishing technology as well as information development and writing skills.” She sees technical communication continuing to advance during the next couple of decades, becoming an even more “attractive and credible profession.” She suggests keeping our STC memberships current, continuing our professional development, and keeping our tools sharp as ways to reap the benefits and compensation of technical communications’ growing popularity. I asked Barrie what she most wanted her technical communication students to grasp from her classes. She responded that one of the most important facets of technical communication she can impart to her students is the need to perform audience analysis in order “to successfully fulfill a specific (Continued on page 11)
  8. 8. NEWS & VIEWS 8 February/March 2004 presenters, generally planning out my week—to get the most out of the conference. I try to find sessions that meet my needs for my job. And then I select a few that are of personal interest, where I think I need to increase my knowledge.” B.J. Foster, Worthington, OH—“I choose one track (such as usability) for most of the sessions. Then I mix in a few sessions that look fun or that I think will further my career but not necessarily help in my current job.” Kathryn Bine, Fairfax, VA—“I look for speakers who I know are good, and if the topic is even slightly interesting I go to that session.” Amy Himes, Lansing, MI—“I go along with certain categories, such as usability or training, but I like to mix it up at times. I also like to go to a session I consider ‘just for me’ each day, such as public speaking or career planning, etc.” Gretchen—“I generally look over the sessions when the first program comes out but then I don’t decide what I'm attending until the day before the sessions.” Rhonda—“When I get the preliminary program, I go through it and mark the sessions I might like to attend. I also look for presenters. Some are great and it’s worthwhile attending their sessions, even if the content may not be exactly what I want. When I register, I go through the actual program and mark the session possibilities—I usually end up with three to six choices for most time slots, then try and prioritize these. On each day, I check the program before getting to the venue—and sometimes find my priorities have changed as a result of discussions with others over a meal or whatever. Prior to the session, I take another quick look and make up my mind there and then. I'm very much a smorgasbord conference goer!” Barb Z.—“I make sure to select sessions from each stem—I mean, Tools, Technology, Writing, etc., so that I get a mixture of the types of sessions. I always select three sessions per time slot so that I have backup if my first choice is not what I expected. My overall goal is to pick up info on issues I am currently having at work. By this, I mean—if I am starting a new job that entails policies and procedures, I will concentrate on sessions related to that. If I am beginning to use a new tool, such as FrameMaker, I will try and select sessions that will help me use the tool. If the company I am working for is reorganizing, laying people off, I will focus on career-building sessions. I purposely go with a different goal each year. I also include one session that is strictly for fun—like the panel on mystery writing.” Lou—“If I am selecting topics I am not familiar with, I try to select multiple sessions from basic to more in-depth on that topic. If I am selecting a topic I have some familiarity with, I try to select a more advance/detailed session on that topic. The motivating factor is to make myself a more valuable employee (job security). My goal is to choose sessions that my employer will see as beneficial to the company. To emphasize that benefit, I provide a written review of my activities when I return to work. This also helps when I ask for conference expense to be included in the annual budget.” What do you expect to gain from the conference? Gretchen—“My only goal is to learn something, anything. Sometimes I can tell in advance what I'll learn, other times I'm surprised by it.” Barb Z.—”I expect to learn new things, meet new people, bring back ideas and renewed enthusiasm for this profession.” Bruce—“I hope to gain two things: anything that might help me be a better writer, and anything that might help me with a current or future project.” Kathryn—“Confirmation that I am doing a good job, ideas for doing a better job, and options for expanding my knowledge and skill set. I also expect to put faces with names I know from reading topics in the industry.” Barbara K.—“I expect to meet fellow writers, pick their brains about their career and their work, hear new ideas, expand my knowledge base.” What was the best part of your conference experience? David Dick, Brussels, Belgium— “It's always wonderful to meet friends, meet new friends, to say ‘hello’ to acquaintances, to learn about trends in technologies and professional development.” B.J.—“The best part is spending time with other writers and finding out about what they do. It really does recharge my love of this career.” Amy—“The best session I attended was Jean-luc Doumont's Understanding Visual Communication. Although time was limited, Doumont succeeded in helping you see the world slightly differently. His presentation was wonderful and engaged the audience.” Barb Z.—“The best parts are the new things I learn, and the people I meet.” Gretchen—“The best part is always the people I meet.” Bruce—“The best part was meeting other writers and discussing problems.” Rhonda—“Meeting people whose names you know well, but who you've never met in person.” Was there anything unexpected that you were surprised to discover at the conference? David—“I was surprised to learn how many people attended the conference at personal expense because the information and networking is important to their personal and professional development. And how many people are out of work and looking (desperately) for employment.” Rhonda—“Not especially, though I was pleasantly surprised how casual On Attending the STC Annual Conference—A Virtual Discourse (Continued from page 1) (Continued on page 9)
  9. 9. February/March 2004 9 NEWS & VIEWS the dress code was, and how friendly and human the ‘gurus’ are!” Has your conference experience directly benefited you on the job? Barb Z.—“Yes. It helps in my performance reviews because I always come back with some ideas on how we can do things better and share these ideas with my group and management.” David—“Yes, by seeing what I should be doing and why, and meeting professionals who can explain how and why.” B.J.—“I am single sourcing my documents and on line help as a result of the conferences. The conference gave me the basic information I needed to go out and learn more about ‘chunking’ and single sourcing. I really believe that this has improved the quality of my documents and I can now quickly create custom documents as our customer’s need them.” Bruce—“It recharged me as a writer and it provided me some new ideas on how to organize projects.” Rhonda—“What it has given me is the impetus to try new things to enhance the experience of the enduser.” Barbara K.—“I brought back ideas I could implement almost immediately. My boss was very satisfied with that!” Lou—“Yes. I have made friends who I can contact for help in solving on the job problems. I brought back information and learned tips and tricks that help in the day-to-day performance of my job. Attending the conference helps lend creditability to my position. I am seen as an expert in my company because it is known that I attend STC functions.” What advice would you give to someone who is attending the conference for the first time? David—“Advance planning is essential to get budget approval (if not self-employed) or to save money to attend the conference. I travel from Europe and I need to decide to attend the conference in November to get the best rates for travel and hotel.” B.J.—“Decide if you are going to pursue one track or just sample sessions from many different tracks. If you think you will attend a future conferences, I would sample different tracks and different types of sessions (lectures, panel discussions) the first year. In subsequent years, you will probably find yourself picking one or two areas and focusing on them, and you’ll find you enjoy certain types of sessions and not others.” Amy—“I recommend taking advantage of networking opportunities by attending the networking lunches and going out with groups of people to discover the city. Don't be shy!” Lou—“Have a good idea of what sessions you plan to attend. Study the pre-conference material... The most important advice is if you are going to ask your employer to pay the cost of the conference, ask before the annual budget is finalized. Be prepared with a justification.” Gretchen—“Talk to everybody! You never know what kind of interesting people you'll meet.” Kathryn—“Figure out what your interest areas are; now figure out who the best speakers are in that subject area. If you don't understand the presentation, or if you are falling asleep, or the presentation doesn't cover what you wanted, then leave and find a session that is useful to you. Don't be too sensitive about the speaker's feelings!” Barb Z.—“Take advantage of all the networking opportunities. Expect to experience both excellent presentations and poor presentations—and everything in- between. Go with an open mind. Have fun.” B.J.—“Don’t try to do everything. The days are long and exhausting, and you need down time. Do not try to attend every luncheon and every evening event. Try to plan one social event with other writers who share common interests (for example, the Lone Writers dinner). Rhonda—“Be flexible in your choices, dress comfortably (you will be sitting all day), wear comfortable shoes (some venues are very far from each other), attend at least one conference lunch—you will meet lots of people you've never met before and will learn a lot!” Barbara K.—“Have a back-up plan; don't be disappointed in whatever happens, volunteer for what ever you can, meet people, go to the evening affairs, go to the luncheons, and if you can, plan to meet with people from outside the US. They have a totally different take on the profession.” B.J.—”Talk to people. Talk to people. Talk to people. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is interested in how your job compares to theirs. Everyone is curious about what problems you face compared to the problems they face.” The Voice of Experience For a thorough guide to preparing for the STC Conference, see Joe Morton’s article Get the Most From Your Next STC Conference, in the February 2003 issue of the STC Huntsville/North Alabama chapter’s newsletter Pen and Brush. Joe’s excellent guide provides tips for planning hotel and travel reservations, registration options, networking, and workshops to help make your STC Annual Conference experience productive and enjoyable. (http:// penbrushv43i4.pdf or > Newsletter > February 2003). ■ Editor’s note: Steve Lungren, STC-PMC Treasurer, has attended the last two STC Annual Conferences in Nashville and Dallas. This article contains quotes from friends and professional acquaintances he met at those conferences. On Attending the STC Annual Conference—A Virtual Discourse (Continued from page 8)
  10. 10. NEWS & VIEWS 10 February/March 2004 Crossword Puzzle by Zsolt Olah ACROSS 1 Harper’s bird to kill 9 Small land surrounded by water 10 James Bond’s double digits 11 European Union Center at the University of Pittsburgh 13 International Standard of Anything 15 Spot color 18 Formal objection taken in the course of an action or a proceeding 20 Santa’s exclamation 21 Maybe a PR text that just simply can’t get hyper 22 Vowels have two of them 23 World data on education by UNESCO 25 Poe’s pet 27 Sweden’s two letters in an Internet address 28 EI 29 U.S. Peace “...” 30 SSS 31 “...” Salvador 32 EV 33 Permission to travel 35 Peru’s two letters in the Internet address 36 Cop who detects 38 Extensive enterprise under a unified authority, which, as it seems, sooner or later is prone to fall apart 40 KRL 41 Method of invocation. At least in Java 42 Not so intellectual way of exhibiting a vocal request for repeating or clarifying a piece of verbal information 44 Sugar Bowl loser backward 45 Neutron’s nihilist buddy DOWN 1 Marine mines cleaning tool in Windows 2 Operation system 3 Stereotipical character behavour 4 The guy with the “cockoo’s nest” 5 Word with negative attitude 6 Desert near Mongolia 7 To moisten or soak in order to separate fibers 8 Duke’s female partner 12 Former name of the second most watched numbers after the stock market 14 Human milestone in a document’s life- cycle 16 Exhibiting a lover’s yearning 17 The “...”daga are one of the original mem- bers of the Iroquois confederacy 19 Emotional organ liquid 24 Situation with two choices. Hard choices. 26 VPVE 29 Currency in Ghana. (If you have no idea consider this the mixed letters of “number cube.”) 30 Physical worker with drunken reputation 34 Mummers’ move. 37 Age of constant love and hate. Parents beware! 39 Secret code. Da Vinci didn’t have one 43 Masculine, singular person 1 M 2 O 3 C 4 K I 5 N 6 G B I 7 R 8 D 9 I S L E 10 O O 11 E U 12 C N 13 I S 14 A 15 B 16 L 17 O T C H 18 E X C E P 19 T I O N 20 H O S 21 H Y P E 22 V O W E L 23 W 24 D E 25 R A 26 V E N 27 S E 28 E I 29 C O R P S 30 S S S 31 E L 32 E V 33 V I 34 S A T 35 P E 36 D E 37 T E C T I V E 38 E M 39 P I R E 40 K R L R 41 R M I 42 E 43 H 44 U O I 45 A N T I N E U T R O N We extend a warm welcome to new chapter members who are joining STC for the first time, rejoining, or have transferred from another chapter. November ❏ Peter W. Brakhage ❏ Kevin R. Hughes ❏ Jason A. Jenkins ❏ Chris Mills ❏ Karen C. Brothers ❏ Valerie G. Sponaugle ❏ Patrick G. Stephens December ❏ Matthew J. Harris ❏ Elizabeth J. Haserick ❏ Shari C. Coleman ❏ Jeffrey T. Brennan ❏ Thomas A. Cook New Senior Members ❏ Jeffrey T. Brennan, ❏ Marianne Johnston ❏ Robert A. G. Montgomery ❏ Valerie G. Sponaugle ❏ Rachael C. Buckley ❏ Deidre M. Kwiatek ❏ Jane A. Phillips ❏ Deborah J. English ❏ Steve A. Lungren ❏ Samuel A. Sokolik At the end of January, the chapter membership was 410. Membership Update Guidelines: Not your typical crossword. Some of the definitions maybe be vague, associative, even funny. A single word CAPITALIZED (e.g., across 32) is your guide. Use it ‘as is’. Puzzle solution on p. 11
  11. 11. February/March 2004 11 NEWS & VIEWS STC Annual Conference May 9–12, 2004 Baltimore Convention Center A grand opening reception on Sunday night opens the conference on a festive note. Three days of sessions cover everything from the nuts and bolts of management, writing, and editing, to the latest trends in tools, usability, and information design. A fourth day (May 13) presents half- day or full-day post-conference workshops and tutorials covering the same range of topics in greater detail, at an additional charge. See the STC web site ( for details. Puzzle Solution Navigating the Future of Technical Communication 1 M 2 O 3 C 4 K I 5 N 6 G B I 7 R 8 D 9 I S L E Y 10 O O L L 11 E U 12 C N L 13 I S 14 A 14 R 15 B 16 L 17 O T C H 18 E X C E P 19 T I O N C 20 H O S R 21 H Y P E 22 L 22 V O W E L 23 W 24 D E I 25 R A 26 V E N B 27 S E 28 E I 27 T 29 C O R P S R 30 S S S 31 E L I 32 E V T 33 V I 34 S A P 34 T 35 P E H 36 D E 37 T E C T I V E 38 E M 39 P I R E F 40 K R L 42 I R 41 R M I U P 42 E 43 H 39 K 44 U O 40 Y I 46 M 45 A N T I N E U T R O N information purpose.” If her students can find answers to the following questions: who are we writing for? what do our readers need to know? how will they read the information? then they will be able to develop useful information. Barrie, when not busy with some aspect of technical communication, is very active acclimating to her new surroundings. She wants to be prepared as a knowledgeable tour guide for visiting family and friends, hence she has been taking the time to get to know our area's local attractions. She is enjoying a renewed interest in the Revolutionary War, and feels that she is definitely learning more now than she did while in school! To coincide with her keen interest in her surroundings, Barrie has an innate love of all things outdoors, including hiking, birding, and biking. Growing up with a commercial airline pilot for a father, Barrie has traveled her entire life and found that, as a result, building new friendships and learning new things are some of her favorite pastimes. Her zest for life is both enthusiastic and infectious! My hope for you all this year is that you will take the time to get to know your fellow STC members. Like Barrie, so many of you have such rich experiences, as well as a wealth of information to share both personally and professionally. We look forward to getting to know you in 2004! ■ Note: Barrie has offered to host a “Dinner at the Diner” event in the Princeton, NJ area. This is a chance for members to informally get together outside of our regularly scheduled meetings, in areas that might be more convenient to them. Please contact Barrie at if you are interested in meeting her in Princeton! Barrie Byron—Making Her Presence Known (Continued from page 7) STC-PMC ANNUAL CONFERENCE Morphing into the Future with STC Saturday, March 20th, 2004 Penn State Great Valley Safeguard Scientific Building 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Continental Breakfast and Lunch Included TECHNICAL AND PROFESSIONAL SESSIONS ■ NETWORKING VENDORS ■ RAFFLE PRIZES ■ MORE STC Members $50 Nonmembers $75
  12. 12. Newsletter Address News & Views Lori Corbett 834 Westridge Dr. Phoenixville, PA 19460 First Class Mail NEWS & VIEWS 12 February/March 2004 Upcoming Meetings The information in the following table was correct at the time News & Views was published. Be sure to check the web site ( for details and to check for late-breaking updates to the schedule. For all Thursday meetings, reservations are due by the Monday before the meeting. Note that the Conference in March will require special registration. Date Meeting Topic Location February 19, 2004 Back to School: Local Area Technical Writing Programs Philadelphia University March 19, 2004 Information Modeling QuickStart Seminar Special Registration Required Penn State University, Great Valley, PA March 20, 2004 STC-PMC Annual Conference—Morphing Into the Future with STC Special Registration Required Penn State University, Great Valley, PA April 15, 2004 Contracting Panel TBD May 9—12, 2004 STC Annual Conference Special Registration Required Baltimore, MD May 20, 2004 Content Management presented by Cheryl Lockett Zubak Doubletree, Plymouth Meeting PA June 1, 2004 Authorit Workshop presented by Cheryl Lockett Zubak TBD October 9, 2004 Philadelphia Mural Tour Philadelphia, PA A Look Inside... ❏ Thinking about attending the STC Annual Conference in Baltimore. Read Steve Lungren’s interview of attendees at previous conferences on p. 1. ❏ Check out the list of winners in the 2003 STC-PMC Online Communication Competition on p. 2. ❏ The editor speaks on p. 2. ❏ President Nad Rosenberg talks about a couple of interesting opportunities on p. 3. ❏ Read a review of Ed Tufte’s book, “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” by Al Brown on p. 4. ❏ Check out the seminar offering, Information Modeling QuickStart, sponsored by the STC-PMC chapter on p. 5. ❏ Giacomo DeAnnuntis reports on the work of the employment committee on p. 6. ❏ Meet Barrie Byron in Jill Cassidy Roulette’s latest Member Spotlight on p. 7. ❏ Test your crossword puzzle skills in Zsolt Olah’s latest presentation on p. 10. Deadline for next issue: March15