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The Changing Face of TechComm and the Society for Technical Communication


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The technical communication landscape is changing rapidly. New tools,
techniques, expectations and opportunities are making it necessary to
expand the definition of what a technical communicator does and the
Society for Technical Communication is at the forefront of
communicating these changes to government and industry. Susan Burton,
Executive Director of the Society of Technical Communication (STC)
will discuss efforts to broaden the definition used by the U.S.
government Bureau of Labor Statistics to describe technical
communicators and the work they do. She

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The Changing Face of TechComm and the Society for Technical Communication

  1. 1. The Changing Face of TechComm and STC Susan Burton, CAE Executive Director 31 October 2008 DocTrain East
  2. 2. What is STC? <ul><li>The professional home for technical communicators </li></ul><ul><li>A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) individual membership association </li></ul><ul><li>Our members work in industry, government, academe, and the non-profit sector </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Organization of STC <ul><li>Board of Directors with 14 members elected at large </li></ul><ul><li>14,000 members in the US and 50 countries </li></ul><ul><li>120 chapters, 25 outside the US </li></ul><ul><li>21 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Define the Profession </li></ul>1 2 Communicate the Value 3 Improve the Practice 4 Expand our Partnerships 5 Ensure the Viability
  5. 5. Define the Profession 1
  6. 6. The Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) <ul><li>List of 820 professions and occupations with formal definitions and terse descriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Used by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bureau of Labor Statistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employment and Training Administration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Office of Management and Budget solicited changes that reflect new occupations or fundamental changes to existing ones. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Technical Writer </li></ul><ul><li>Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work. </li></ul>Current Definition
  8. 8. Problems with Current Definition <ul><li>A definition based only on “writers” sends false market signals </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not about the media </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation playing new role in consumer protection and international competitiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Communication changing from one-way static to multi-way dynamic </li></ul>
  9. 9. Recommended Definition <ul><li>27-1028 Technical Communicators </li></ul><ul><li>Develop and design instructional and informational tools needed to assure safe, easy, proper and complete use of technical goods and services . Combine multi-media knowledge and strong communication skills with technical expertise to educate across the entire spectrum of users’ abilities, technical experience, and visual and auditory capabilities. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Trends Affecting TechComm <ul><li>Content management </li></ul><ul><li>Data management </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge management </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence (creation, production, and maintenance of technical content) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Trends Affecting TechComm <ul><li>Multimedia and Web 2.0 technologies for help content and user assistance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Videos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive media </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Trends Affecting TechComm <ul><li>Topic-based authoring </li></ul><ul><li>Structured authoring (XML) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Trends Affecting TechComm <ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Open source </li></ul><ul><li>User-generated content </li></ul><ul><li>Open communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Trends Affecting TechComm <ul><li>Communicating directly with users </li></ul>
  16. 16. Trends Affecting TechComm <ul><li>Globalization </li></ul><ul><li>Localization </li></ul><ul><li>Translation </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development <ul><li>Professions have: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a unique body of knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>an ethical requirement that puts the needs of the customer (end-user) ahead of the provider’s commercial interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a recognized credential—such as a license or certification </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Body of Knowledge (BoK)? <ul><li>BoK task force </li></ul><ul><li>Comprehensive and inclusive </li></ul><ul><li>STC Knowledge Portal </li></ul><ul><li>Web sitemap </li></ul>
  21. 21. Organized by Domains, Nodes, and Knowledge Elements <ul><li>Information Design & Development </li></ul><ul><li>Tool Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Research & Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Business Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Professional Development </li></ul><ul><li>Academic Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Management </li></ul><ul><li>TC Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Deliverables </li></ul><ul><li>About TC </li></ul>11 Domains
  22. 22. Domain: Tool Knowledge <ul><li>Tool Knowledge, Skills, Abilities </li></ul><ul><li>New Tools & Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Translation Tools </li></ul><ul><li>Social Media Tools </li></ul><ul><li>Other Tools </li></ul><ul><li>Hardware </li></ul><ul><li>Tool Methodology Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Web Design Tools </li></ul><ul><li>About Tools: Evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Programming Languages </li></ul><ul><li>Tutorials </li></ul>11 Nodes
  24. 24. Providing Ethical Considerations? <ul><li>Special task force of members </li></ul><ul><li>Puts the needs of the customer (end-user) ahead of the provider’s commercial interest </li></ul><ul><li>Affects practice of the profession </li></ul>
  26. 26. Credentials Required? <ul><li>Special task force </li></ul><ul><li>Still under debate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Certification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>License </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Degree programs </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Communicate the Value By Telling Our Powerful Story 2
  28. 28. Communicating Through Our Publications & Website <ul><li>Monthly magazine </li></ul><ul><li>Quarterly journal </li></ul><ul><li>Annual Salary Database </li></ul><ul><li>Monthly electronic newsletter </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent front page updates </li></ul>
  29. 29. Telling Our Powerful Story <ul><li>To employers </li></ul><ul><li>To students entering the field </li></ul><ul><li>To interested media </li></ul><ul><li>To technical communicators </li></ul>
  30. 30. Globally Improve the Practice 3
  31. 31. <ul><li>STC’s Most Comprehensive & </li></ul><ul><li>Affordable Education Event </li></ul>3–6 May 2009 Atlanta, GA
  32. 32. <ul><li>Certificate Programs—intensive, two-day, hands-on sessions </li></ul><ul><li>More than 100 sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Organized in 7 tracks to identify interest areas </li></ul><ul><li>Institutes—for more experienced practitioners </li></ul>
  33. 33. NEW! Attendees will have access for one year after the conference to audio recorded sessions synched with PowerPoint on STC website.
  34. 34. Live Web Seminars <ul><li>Get training without leaving the office </li></ul><ul><li>90-minute sessions on timely topics </li></ul><ul><li>No travel expense </li></ul><ul><li>Pay per site, not per person </li></ul><ul><li>Very affordable…$79 </li></ul>
  35. 35. Expand Strategic Partnerships 4
  36. 36. Expand strategic partnerships <ul><li>AECT </li></ul><ul><li>AMWA </li></ul><ul><li>APMP </li></ul><ul><li>ASSI&T </li></ul><ul><li>ATA </li></ul><ul><li>ATTW </li></ul><ul><li>Content Wrangler </li></ul><ul><li>CMPros </li></ul><ul><li>GALA </li></ul><ul><li>IEEE/PCS </li></ul><ul><li>INTECOM </li></ul><ul><li>LavaCon </li></ul><ul><li>LISA </li></ul><ul><li>UPA </li></ul><ul><li>WritersUA </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Assistance </li></ul>
  37. 37. Ensure the Viability of the Organization 5
  38. 38. <ul><li>Active membership in STC is your best insurance policy against unemployment. </li></ul><ul><li>— John Hedtke </li></ul><ul><li>Fellow </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>More benefits that are exclusive to membership </li></ul>
  40. 40. Exclusive Member Benefits <ul><li>14-day advance look at new job postings online </li></ul><ul><li>Access to salary database with average salaries by geographic area and industries </li></ul><ul><li>Free access to 5,500 best practices reports </li></ul><ul><li>Software discounts that save members hundreds of $$$ </li></ul>plus so much more…
  41. 41. Discounts on Member Benefits Available to Public <ul><li>Competitions </li></ul><ul><li>Conference and other education fees </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>Visit the website often </li></ul>Thank you! Thank you!