From the Editor Julianna Rhodes, STC UK & Ireland Newsletter Editor, and 2nd Vice President The crocuses are springing up and the daffodil shoots are stretching upwards towards the sky in a constant prayer to the Sun God. There are days of patchy sunshine with blue sky and that earthy, fresh smell in the air...ahhhh, spring is coming! That alone is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face! We have lots of events planned for the spring and summer, so get your trusty diaries out and mark the dates! •
7th March 2009 – “Video and e‐learning” at the Novotel Hotel in London, sponsored by the STC UK & Ireland Chapter (see next article.) 13‐14th June 2009 – The STC UK & Ireland chapter’s annual conference will take place at the Møller Centre in Cambridge. This year’s theme is “Accessibility” (see page 3.) 25th July 2009 – “Race Day” Social to celebrate the Betfair races, located at the STC UK &
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Ireland chapter President’s house (Ant Davey) (see page 3.) And let’s not forget the 56th Annual STC Summit taking place 2‐6th May 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia. If you are one of the lucky ones to go, keep an eye out for me, as I will be there! Happy Spring! ‐ Julianna
“Video and e-learning” – An Introduction for technical communicators Saturday, 7 March 2009 in central London
Bridging the gap between user assistance and training provides an opportunity for us to expand our skills and job opportunities, but also presents new challenges. What is e‐learning, what techniques and skills are needed, what tools are available? This one‐day conference will try to answer those questions, and provide you with a critical overview of the technologies and tools used. You will learn about the design of content and structure of tutorials and other training material and how to use digital media resources to create engaging and usable learning materials.
"You can write, just put it online as training"
The event will take place on Saturday, 7 March 2009 at the Novotel London Waterloo, just across the Thames from Big Ben and Westminster. Close to rail, tube and bus links, the Novotel London Waterloo offers excellent facilities and we are delighted to have secured the venue for our Video and E‐ Learning Conference.
More and more companies are using e‐learning to train staff, customers and suppliers, and often it is the technical communicator who is asked to not only write the content, but also design and develop the e‐learning system.
In these difficult times investing in ourselves as professionals is more important than ever, and this one‐day conference is an ideal opportunity to stay abreast of new trends and technologies. As well as a number of highly informative presentations, the day
By Tina Hoffman, STC UK & Ireland Chapter Secretary
provides plenty of time for networking. Meet other technical communicators, exchange ideas and pick up technical authoring and job information, all for the princely sum of £80 (early booking rate for chapter members). This event is open to STC members and guests, please forward this information to anyone you think would be interested in attending. All may be assured of a warm welcome and (not unimportant in these credit crunch days) discounted rates for STC, ISTC, and other Intecom members. [Editor’s Note – Some subsidized tickets are available for STC UK & Ireland Members who are currently unemployed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.] For more information, visit the chapter website on http://www.stcuk.org/. To book your place now, go to http://stcukandimarch2009.eventbrite.com/. For questions relating to the event, please contact the event organiser Tina Hoffman on email@example.com
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
STC Extends Early Bird Period for Members STC is sensitive to the impact of a downward economy on members’ ability to attend the 2009 Technical Communication Summit, 3–6 May in Atlanta, GA. As part of its own economic stimulus plan, the Society will extend the Early Bird discount rate for members until 21 April. “I am so proud of our Finance Committee for approving this extension,” exclaimed STC Executive Director Susan Burton, CAE. “This will keep the registration rates affordable and, in effect, give a $200 credit to every member who missed the original deadline and wants to attend the conference.” The Early Bird discounted rate is $200 less than the standard rate of $995 that was originally effective 18 February. Member Early Bird registration rate for the conference is $795; the onsite registration rate for members is $1,095. Conference room rates at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta are also affordable at $174 for single or double accommodations, 21 percent less than last year’s room rates.
The Summit is comprised of more than 100 education sessions organized into six tracks: Applying Research and Theory to Practice; Designing and Assessing the User Experience; Designing and Developing Content; Developing Your Skills and Promoting Your Profession; Managing People, Projects, and Business; and Producing, Managing, and Delivering Content. Top practitioners, academe, consultants, and researchers in the field of technical communication will present new material on cutting‐edge technology, trends, and issues, mixed in with the staples of solid communication techniques and topic areas. A Preliminary Program is available on the STC website in PDF form, as well as a live database of titles, speakers, and descriptions for all sessions being presented. Members who wish to have their company pay for their professional development may find the document Help in Justifying Your Attendance beneficial. Complete details about the conference schedule, registration rates, hotel information, and registration can be found on the STC website.
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Annual Conference is 13-14th June 2009 The theme for the upcoming conference on 13‐14th June at the Møller Centre in Cambridge is "Accessibility in Technical writing and the workplace." • •
How do we make our communications usable by people with hearing and sight difficulties? How do we work with colleagues and customers who have hearing and sight difficulties?
These are the issues that will be addressed by featured speakers from all over the UK. There will be a Saturday night dinner and social activities to do with other Technical Authors. The programme is still getting its final touches. In the meantime, mark your diaries and watch this space!
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
STC UK & Ireland Summer Social - “Ascot Race Day” On 25th June, the Summer Social/BBQ will be held at STC UK & Ireland chapter President Ant Davey’s house/garden. The purpose of the social is to celebrate the Betfair Weekend featuring the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Cost is £15 per head to cover food, sweepstake, and prize for the ‘Best Hat’. Guests will need to bring their own drinks, but a glass of bubbly will be provided on arrival. The event is open to members, non‐ members and their families. Watch this space for more information or contact Ant Davey.
Master of Arts – Technical Communication By James Windebank, STC UK & Ireland Chapter Student Member This time last year I could hardly imagine that I would be embarking on such a rewarding career as a technical author, let alone studying for a MA in
Technical Communication at the University of Portsmouth. But it’s true! Previous to my new venture, I had completed an apprenticeship in electronic engineering and gained four years experience as an electronic test technician. But I began to crave for a new challenge and a more rewarding career. I spotted a job advertisement for a trainee technical author that intrigued me. I had always worked with technical publications but never considered writing them. On second thoughts it did make sense as I could use my prior engineering experience to make an exciting new career change. Perfect. In March of 2008, I was recruited by Eaton Aerospace Limited as a trainee technical author and I haven’t looked back since. I am creating accurate and ‘easy to read’ technical publications for company products and updating any subsequent revisions. I have had to get to grips with the range of different company and customer procedures and specifications that include S1000D. An aspect that I have really enjoyed is learning and using different
industry‐related software packages such as Adobe FrameMaker + SGML and Itedo IsoDraw. Once I had found my feet in my new environment, I looked to find a qualification that could support my growing experience as a technical author. I didn’t have to look far, because right on my door step was the University of Portsmouth that ran an MA in Technical Communication. The University offers a part‐time study option, which was ideal for me. My employer was impressed to see that I was willing to develop my technical author skills further and gave me permission to apply for the course. The University of Portsmouth quote “The course has been designed for individuals with a technical or scientific background who wish to take up technical authorship as a second career.” This seemed just right for me. But I was unsure if I would obtain a place on the course as I did not have a Bachelors degree, which is traditionally required to advance on to a Master STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
degree. Thankfully, the University encourages entrants without formal degree level qualifications to apply. Each application is examined on an individual bases’, in which sub‐degree qualifications, work experience, personal interest and motivation are all taken into account. I believe my work situation and past engineering experience enabled me to be successfully accepted onto the course. In October 2008, I arrived for registration at the School of Languages and Area Studies (SLAS) of the University. The first thing I noticed was the real international feel. Reason being, the SLAS attracts students from all around the world. This has given me the opportunity to network and learn with people that I otherwise may not have had the chance to mix with, thus offering valuable and differing opinions. As a part‐time student, the course runs over two years and each year is broken into three semesters. The University have made real effort to accommodate part‐time students on to this course. They have taken into consideration possible work and family commitments of students by ensuring
the taught lessons are kept to one afternoon per week. But it has to be noted that a lot of reading and research is required, but that is to be expected from an MA degree. So far I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and have received extremely positive grades. I believe the mixture of practical‐based learning and academic theory has been spot on for me. The course is assignment‐based, which takes away the pressure of exams. The University also provide rich resources and facilities from the latest industry‐ related computer software and hardware to a brilliantly stocked library. It has to be said that the lecturers are very professional and knowledgeable, which makes the course for me. They engage you in the subject and entice you to learn more. The first semester has consisted of two units, which cover the following aspects: Technical Discourse: Theory and Practice ‐ Defining technical communication. ‐ Strategies for efficient and effective technical communication. ‐ Genre analysis.
‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐
Style 1: Punctuation and spelling. Style 2: Active writing. Document design. Using graphics. Oral communication. Informative and persuasive writing. Style guides and style sheets.
Electronic Publishing ‐ Produce an electronic publication based on a brief. ‐ Learn and use appropriate software packages. ‐ Plan development. ‐ Address design and technical issues. ‐ Critique and reflect on publication. ‐ Consider economic, ethical and legal issues. I’m sure professionals who have been in the Technical Communication industry a while must look at this course with fascination. Would an individual with sound experience benefit from this course? Quite likely, if they want to refresh their knowledge or have a beneficial industry‐related qualification to their name. But I believe this course does exactly what it says on the tin. It introduces entrants to the multiple disciplines that make up Technical STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Communication and prepares them to embark on a stimulating career in technical authoring.
providing the technical information we need for our documentation. While tech comms subjects featured prominently we also found time to discuss various other topics, such as the challenge of learning Hungarian, the all important question whether grey is indeed the new black, or the highly contested subject of the superiority of Alt over Kölsch (that's the local beers from the German cities of Dusseldorf and Cologne, for the uninitiated).
Annual Chapter Dinner -A square meal & a good evening all-round By Tina Hoffman, STC UK & Ireland Chapter Secretary On January 10, a dozen or so technical communicators and friends braved the cold and dark to gather at the STC UK & Ireland chapter's annual dinner, a convivial evening of good communication, fine wine and excellent Thai food (at 'Thai Square' in London's Covent Garden). The atmosphere was relaxed, the company was charming and conversation lively. Over an introductory glass of bubbly (and several more of excellent wine) we discussed a wide variety of technical communications topics, ranging from outsourcing and working in tech pubs teams that are scattered across the globe to the best (and I'm not sure always legal) ways of 'bribing' SMEs into
The evening once again reminded me how much I enjoy meeting other technical communicators. I'm sure you all know the feeling. You are at a party at a friend's house and someone asks: "And what do you do for a living?" You start to explain what it means to be a technical author and their eyes begin to glaze over. Unless, of course, the other person also involved is in the field of technical communication. And what an interesting and varied bunch of people this is. We might all be in the same profession of technical communication, but our skills, background and knowledge vary as much as the products we write about. I have yet to attend an STC meeting where I do not come away having a)learnt
something new, and b) met somebody with an utterly fascinating story to tell. All in all, the evening was a great success. A big thank you to Karen Lewis for organising this outing!
A Day in the Life By Mike Unwalla, STC UK & Ireland Chapter Member I work for myself. In 1999, I established TechScribe as a software documentation consultancy. This article gives you an approximate idea of what I do to operate the business. Usually, each day starts similarly at approximately 7:30. With a strong coffee, I deal with incoming e‐ mail. Half of the e‐mail is spam, but that takes only seconds to evaluate and to delete. Many e‐mail messages contain useful information from professional organisations. I spend up to an hour reading the e‐mail messages, because training and learning is important to the success of a freelancer. Sometimes, existing clients stop being clients. Possibly, they go out of business. Possibly, as with previous client SDL, they get larger, and they employ full‐time technical communicators. Therefore, STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
getting new business is important. To put TechScribe’s name in front of possible future customers, I write articles for organisations such as British Computer Society. To reach people who are searching for a freelance technical communicator, I spend much time making the TechScribe website better. I write articles, news releases, case studies, and at 10‐week intervals, a newsletter.
company that was in my prime prospect list. We started talking. They decided to employ someone for a year, instead of outsourcing the work. The process was successful. “The feedback is all positive. You made us think and come to a decision,” they told me. Most administration such as VAT returns and accounts are routine and boring. However, sometimes, administration can be interesting. For example, I had written an article that a professional organisation had put on its website. A software company copied the article to its website. Because TechScribe owned the copyright, I dealt with the copyright infringement. One short e‐mail message to the directors was sufficient, and the company quickly removed the article.
To learn about each prospect, I review the company’s website, and get information from Companies House. For prime prospects, I contact the company by telephone, send a letter, and then make a telephone call. (In the past, I have sent data to a cold‐calling company to confirm basic information such as the company turnover and the number of employees. Possibly, I will do that again, but for now, I have sufficient data.) Sometimes, an on‐site contractor is the best option for a prospect. Sometimes, the expectations of prospect do not match the budget. Sometimes, documentation is not the best solution to a prospect's problem. To help prospects to achieve a successful result, TechScribe uses a structured method of selling (for a discussion, see http://ewh.ieee.org/soc/pcs/newsletter/archive/ma r2008/pcsnews_mar2008_proposals.php). For example, Midland Valley Exploration is a software
Continuously improving my skills is important. In addition to technical skills, ‘soft’ skills are important. Because my writing skills are much better than my speaking skills, I invested two mornings at a ‘storytelling for business’ workshop. I was surprised at the results: I could speak with passion about the benefits of technical communication! When I work on a project, I usually spend a full day on it, except for urgent and important business administration. At the start of a project, I spend
much time talking to the subject matter experts to learn about the software and the people who use it. During the project, I usually send my questions by e‐ mail instead of by asking questions on the telephone. For one project, the project manager gave me conflicting workflows. Because her comments were documented, I could confidently tell her that she could not have what she wanted. Sometimes, I get feedback from readers. One client produces complex software that is used in the oil and gas industry. I attended a meeting of the user group, spoke to users, and asked the users to complete a questionnaire. Many people did not know that a printable user guide was supplied as a PDF file. Without the survey, we would never have learnt this information. Now we know. Therefore, we can correct the problem. At the end of a project, I review the project. This tells me where TechScribe needs to improve its process, and sometimes, I get valuable testimonials and case studies, which I can use in my marketing and promotional activities. Each day is different. I do not have a typical day. For me, a large advantage of operating as a freelancer is that I learn much more and I develop my skills to a higher level than I did as an employee. STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Help Marketers Trim Waste Lines
We know that to sell technical products and services successfully sales and marketing professionals require a more‐or‐less fixed range of relatively conventional online, paper and training documents and that these have a similar core content and structure.
By Mike Meyers, STC UK & Ireland Chapter Member Marketing teams in technical and industrial businesses are serious offenders in the waste lines league, often employing uncoordinated originators to write stand‐alone promotional materials which ought to share content and workflow. As they ponder their 2009 budgets such organisations should be more interested in reuse and better processes that could cut their costs, enhance their communications and protect their brands. Clearly, some fashion and beauty marketing is design‐led and, apart from labelling and other regulatory material, employs little text content in either advertising or other promotion. In contrast, there are many companies that sell industrial tools, medical instruments, business consultancy, recycled materials and other complex products or services where content is vital and a sophisticated design ‘template’ makes little contribution.
Such technical and industrial companies often use a limited web content management. Truth is they use the web content management system as a kind of WYSIWYG text entry tool that offers a cost saving over asking the web design agency to maintain the content or learning some kind of mark up language. This leads them to believe they already have a content management system so they reject the chance to learn about genuine company‐wide (or enterprise) content management. As a generality, the current approach to what is called ‘web content management’ does not help to share content, enhance consistency or to implement editing and approval workflows. Technical marketing specialists tell us that when preparing for a launch or customer event they start by simultaneously designing and writing a single document, often a brochure, to be used at trade shows and live events. This is produced jointly by an engineer, who may not be a gifted writer, a marketing person who perhaps never used the
product or service, and often an external marketing agency is involved too. The resulting document is approved by someone, perhaps a marketing director, who just joined from another industry. Then someone down the corridor with a web content management system edits it for online use. Then an external PR agency writes a news release. This PR agency probably uses a bit of cut and paste on the intro and company contact details to cut its own costs but will usually find a reason to reject content written elsewhere to protect the mystique value of its services. Later a case study or white paper is commissioned from an external writer. Then some derived copy is added to online and paper data sheets. Then the sales team revises snippets for sales proposals. In one really common example, data sheets for almost identical products with slightly different specifications have different content structures that often also vary language by language. We haven’t even mentioned seminar programmes, pay‐per‐click content or annual reports, yet before you know it there are a dozen documents floating around that should be seamless but are often inconsistent.
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Eventually, scores or even hundreds of documents are in circulation, they may not all be correct or recent, but since no one has a list of them customers can please themselves about which they believe. Far from being creative or efficient, this individual document creation approach costs money, ruins reputations and causes delays. But it’s hard to get marketers to try genuine content management and workflow. One reason is that they usually work under self‐imposed stress, so that the document they ignored until today and now need for tomorrow must take priority over the longer term solution. Secondly, some of the writing is genuinely time‐sensitive. Perhaps the policy decision behind the press release that needs to be announced in Chicago tonight was only taken at the end of the day in Edinburgh. Thirdly, perhaps it’s a type of self preservation: By constantly having a start‐from‐scratch writing job on the go, marketers justify their existence. Whichever, the current budget constraints must give content management enthusiasts their best chance yet.
STC UK in Berlin! By Nick Rosenthal, Past STC UK & Ireland Chapter President
In January, I was visiting clients in Berlin. I mentioned to an STC friend who lives in Berlin that I would be in town, and the next thing I knew he had organised a meeting of the Berlin LIG of STC’s Transalpine Chapter. The potential for making friends around the world is one of the very best things about STC. Looking around the table at the Berlin LIG meeting, there were 10 people present, and I realised that I knew most of them from a Transalpine chapter conference I spoke at in Munich a few years ago, or from other technical documentation conferences around Europe. It also gave me an opportunity to make a couple of new friends.
We chatted in a mixture of English and German about STC matters, about tech writing challenges, about what to include or not include on a tech writer’s website, and it was a warm and fun environment. I was surprised to learn that this was the first time in 3 or 4 years that the Berlin LIG members had actually got together, and I think they all enjoyed it so much that they will be meeting again soon.
Berlin. I don’t often get to attend events at an address bearing my family name!
whatever stage on the DITA ladder ‐ from the business case for DITA to applying DITA in specific contexts and situations.
DITA Europe 2008 Conference By David J. B. Hollis, STC UK & Ireland Chapter member Late last year, the DITA Europe conference was held in Munich. Home to the famous 'HB' Hofbraeuhaus. A fine selection of beers, and a good selection of food, too. A traditional Bavarian 'oompah' band playing in the background.
One specific point that I learned is that STC’s Transalpine chapter is planning to organise a two‐ day conference in Vienna, Austria, in early June, which promises to be a good conference (and Vienna is a lovely city to visit). My special thanks to Jeff Iezzi for kindly organising the meeting at a café on Rosenthaler Strasse in STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Oh, sorry! You want to know about the conference? Well there were around 140 attendees, from all across Europe. One striking feature was the number of vendors and speakers who are involved with the various OASIS DITA committees and sub‐ committees. Most of the various DITA activities were represented: the DITA and DITA Adoption committees, as well as the Enterprise Business Documents, Learning and Training, Machine Industry, Semiconductor and Translation sub‐ committees. So, there was something for everyone,
The talks ranged widely from specific aspects of the DITA Language Spec. to case studies about how DITA solved different technical content problems including a proposal generator, and database driven content and included more esoteric aspects such as including mathematic formulae in DITA. There were also practical talks about creating training material from DITA, as well as business documentation. The vendors also demonstrated the breadth of DITA interest. DocZone announced their partnership with JustSystems to bring together document management with the popular XMetal Author Enterprise content creation software. Other vendors included SyncRO Soft with their oXygen XML creation software, Antenna House with their PDF formatting engine and Data Conversion Laboratories with their software and services for migrating legacy content. The Translation sub‐committee demonstrated how DITA is reaching out to other XML technologies, to produce a combined solution which can significantly
drive down the costs of translation and localisation. The climax of the conference was a webinar which involved a panel of six speakers, two of whom were not actually present at the conference. Between the speakers they demonstrated the combined XML technologies involved in localisation, the massive business benefits, and what it's like to actually use the technologies on a day to day basis. Since the conference, the work of the OASIS committees has continued apace. There is a great deal of interest and activity surrounding the forthcoming 1.2 release of the DITA Specification. A lot of this activity is in reviewing the current standard, and writing Best Practice notes about how the exciting new features can be used. For instance, the new KeyRef and ConKeyRef elements will be invaluable for managing variables across a family of documents, as is typical with many hardware products.
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Health Communication course now available by online learning
online learning, the course makes use of a variety of highly interactive audio‐visual learning methods to make studying online both engaging and challenging. It uses a range of teaching methods including online lectures, course notes, discussions, collaborative work and case study examples, and there is particular emphasis on practical communication projects.
Coventry University’s new MA in Health Communication Design is now available for part‐ time study via distance learning. This course is designed to support professionals who are seeking to augment their knowledge and skills in this important field: students can choose to do the full MA or an intermediate award of a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate, or they can select one individual module and study a specific aspect of health communication.
A flexible approach to study The course team recognises the challenges of combining study with the demands of work and family, and has built flexibility into the programme in several ways, including: • • •
Developed by the University’s new Health Design and Technology Institute in conjunction with Coventry School of Art and Design, the MA Health Communication Design has a professional focus and is the first in the UK to draw together the knowledge and the practical skills that students need in order to be effective health communicators and managers of health communication. From September 2009 the course will be delivered online, together with optional days of activities on campus. Drawing on the University’s experience of
Intermediate awards Three start points per year The option to enrol for one module only, either for continuing professional development or as a taster to help students decide whether to undertake the full MA programme. The possibility of tailoring some assignments so that they are directly relevant to an individual student’s current or intended employment.
For more information about the course and how to apply, click here or contact Dr Sandra Harrison.
Tips By Nick Rosenthal, Past STC UK & Ireland Chapter President
Font resizer I have added a font resizer to the STC UK an Ireland website. It’s located in the top left corner, just above the main navigation bar (see below.)
The "Image resizer" utility is located two‐thirds of the way down the page in the blue highlighted bar at the right of the page.
Implementing DITA – What's actually involved in moving to a DITA authoring workflow? Afternoon workshop, Thursday 26th March 2009, £75 ex VAT
Upcoming Workshops / Events
Both workshops Getting started with DITA – for managers, decision makers, and technical authors
STC UK & Ireland Chapter aims to keep our members informed of additional workshops, trainings, and events happening outside the chapter.
Implementing DITA – What's actually involved in moving to a DITA authoring workflow?Morning & Afternoon workshop, Thursday 26th March 2009
STC France’s Annual Conference
£135 ex VAT
20‐21 March 2009 ‐ STC France Annual Conference: Connecting Communities
For more info, go to: http://www.cherryleaf.com/dita2009workshop.htm
Or contact Ellis Pratt at Cherryleaf.
Cherryleaf DITA workshop
Getting started with DITA – for managers, decision makers, and technical authors ‐ Thursday 26th March 2009, £75 ex VAT
MadCap Flare Training
Photo resizing Often, you need to reduce a photo’s size for emailing. I recommend the following tool to reduce images (if using Windows XP.) This utility is part of the Microsoft PowerToys toolset, accessible at: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/Downloads/ powertoys/Xppowertoys.mspx STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
For folks that are unemployed or looking to add on to their skill set and because they don’t have a company behind them paying $900+ for a license, Madcap is offering: Flare + Free Jumpstart training + Free certification for $499US. This is a way to give
folks a chance to add Flare and some training to their “tool box” and hopefully make them more marketable. The only restriction is that it is personal credit card only. For more information, contact Jennifer Morse.
British Association for Applied Linguistics‐ Cambridge University Press Seminar 2009
For more granular training, Matthew Ellison will be teaching the Flare v4 training course March 16‐18th in London. STC members get 10% off the registration (which is normally $1299US, about £900GBP) For course details, visit Madcap.
DATE: 15 ‐ 16 May 2009
LOCATION: Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick
By Karen Lewis, STC UK & Ireland Membership Manager & Competition Manager
For more information, go here or contact CK Jung
The number of members in the UK & Ireland Chapter is now 160.
______________________________________ 2‐3 April – The 2009 Information Design
Conference being held in Greenwich (London). See here for details. ______________________________________
STC 56th Annual Summit
Cambridge ISTC Meeting – every month in Cambridge. Contact Richard Truscott (VP1@stcuk.org) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connecting Discourses: Academic and Professional Worlds
______________________________________ New Transfers since December 1, 2008
TransAlpine Chapter Workshop and Conference
• • • • • • • • • • • •
8‐10 June 2009, in Vienna, Italy For more information, please email vienna2009@stc‐transalpine.org
3‐6 May 2009 – in Atlanta, GA ______________________________________ http://conference.stc.org/ ______________________________________
STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
Mrs. Karina Buuri Ms. Carol Egan Ms. Maria Finnegan Mr. David W. Green Mr. Andy Gural Miss Carol Houlihan Mr. Colin Ian Latham Ms. Mary E. Nasi Mr. Kieran O'Leary Ms. Jennifer L. Phillips Ms. Deborah Pletsch‐Smith Ms. Shari G. Smith
Mr. Michael Trice
New Members since December 1, 08 • • • • •
Mr. David Barber Ms. Mary Forde Ms. Sinead Higgins Mr. Arthur McArthur Mr. James Adam Windebank
Note ‐ As always, I apologise if your name is spelt incorrectly. It's either my fault entirely (otherwise known as a typing error) or the information sent from STC Head Office was incorrect. Due to the different phone number and postcode formats here in the UK, sometimes the details sent from the office in the USA get corrupted. You can reach Karen at email@example.com.
UK & Eire Events Calendar The STC UK and Ireland Chapter holds a number of educational events at different locations around the country throughout the year. In addition we hold informal social events where technical communicators can meet and chat and socialise over a drink or a coffee. There is no charge for these STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
events, though you pay for your own refreshments. If you live in the area listed below, we encourage you to meet up with other Technical Authors and start a regular monthly or bi‐monthly meeting. These social events are a great opportunity for networking, and are always enjoyable. All meetings start at 18.30, and it’s OK to arrive a bit late due to responsibilities, traffic, etc. Watch this space (and our website), as it will be updated regularly.
13‐14 June 2009 AGM will be at the Møller Centre in Cambridge. The theme will be on Accessibility (charge.) 25 July 2009 – STC UK & Ireland Summer Social ‐ “Ascot Race Day” (£15 and BYOB.)
Member Interview – Caroline Jarrett
7 March 2009 – 1 day event sponsored by the UK & Ireland Chapter on 'Videos and E‐Learning' in central London (charge.).
Caroline Jarrett is a member of STC UK & Ireland chapter
STC Body of Knowledge 26 March 2009 – Reading, Location TBD. The Southern LIG (Local Interest Group) of the STC UK & Ireland chapter is hosting its next meeting on 26th March in Reading. If you would like to join us, please email Tina on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. April 2009 – Portsmouth, Location TDB. Keep an eye on your email and our website! 25 June 2009 – 6.30 PM Coventry, at Browns (Earl Street, Coventry, CV1 5RU. For more information, contact Julianna.
What is the project? One of the most important things to define a profession is its Body of Knowledge (BoK): the things that you might need to know in order to be an effective member of the profession. In late 2007, a team of senior STC people assembled to start to work on an STC BoK. They quickly decided that there are lots of sources of technical communication knowledge out there, not least in our own publications “Technical Communication”
and “Intercom”, the other journals in our field, conference proceedings, libraries, and online collections such as the Eserver Technical Communication Library (http://tc.eserver.org/) Our problem is: how to get at all that material? And which of it is the really important stuff? So the project was redefined as the STC Body of Knowledge Portal. We’re aiming to produce a portal that will help guide you to the appropriate materials, the information you really need. Why is it important to technical communicators? As a technical communication professional, you need to be able to get to the right materials at the right time in your career: as a beginner, a student, maybe when moving from one professional area (maybe marketing communications) to another (processes and procedures), maybe when looking to mentor more junior people, perhaps as an academic designing a curriculum. We see the BoK as an important resource for a wide range of different needs. What stage are you at? STC UK & Ireland Chapter Newsletter – March 2009
We’ve defined personas (pen‐portraits of different technical communicators) to help us think through what information might be most useful to different types of people. We also created a first draft of a site map for the portal and gathered comments on it from STC members during last autumn.
That said, we’re always looking for enthusiastic people who want to help.
We’re in the run up to the STC Summit in May right now, preparing version 2 of the site map. And we’re also experimenting with a few different tools for populating the site map, both with links to other content and original content.
http://www.stc.org/stcmembers/bok‐index.asp (you’ll need to log in as an STC member)
I think we’ll be needing people who would help us to populate and test the portal: looking out for suitable content, maybe writing articles.
What’s your role in the project? And who else is involved? I’m ‘project manager’, which really means that I write the notes from our meetings and I keep an eye on the milestones. Hillary Hart and Mark Hanigan are the co‐leaders: they set the direction and decide what we should be doing and when. Then we have ‘domain leaders’: they look after the intellectual content of different parts of the site map, and they
have each recruited helpers. I’m in awe of the skills, knowledge and experience of the people in the team.
Really? What would they be doing?
The consultation is closed now. (Don’t worry if you missed it: there will be lots more opportunities to comment and help with this project in the future). You can still see the first phase of the site map and the personas for technical communicators who might use the portal here:
Go here for more information about Caroline Jarrett or you can email her. The STC UK & Ireland Newsletter is published quarterly. If you are interested in writing any articles for the newsletter, please contact Julianna via email. Articles for the June 2009 Newsletter are due 25th May 2009. Copyright ©2009 STC UK & Ireland Chapter