March 2011 – intercom

Category: March 2011

Introducing the STC Fellows and Associate Fellows

STC is pleased to announce that 35 distinguished members have been named Fellows and Associate Fellows of the Society. They will be recognized at the Honors Banquet at the 2011 STC Summit in Sacramento this year. STC awards the rank of Associate Fellow to Senior Members who have attained distinction in the field of technical communication. The rank of STC Fellow is conferred upon Associate Fellows who have attained such eminence in the field of technical communication that the Board deems them worthy of being singled out as one of the select few who have distinguished the Society and the… Read the rest

Community Awards

The Society for Technical Communication has long recognized the importance of the hard work and commitment of its community members. Without their energy and enthusiasm, the Society would cease to be the largest, most effective, and most prestigious organization of technical communicators in the world. Below are the honorees this year for the Distinguished Chapter Service Award, Distinguished SIG Service Award, and Distinguished Service Award for Students. Congratulations to each of them and thank you for your service to the Society. Distinguished Chapter Service Award In 1988, the Society initiated the Distinguished Chapter Service Award (DCSA) to recognize exemplary dedication… Read the rest

Reminder: Vote in the 2011 STC Elections

The 2011 STC elections opened on 9 March and will close 30 March at 4:00 PM EDT (GMT-4). You must have renewed your STC membership by 28 February in order to vote. You should have received an email with voting instructions and a link to vote. If you are an eligible member and did not receive an email, please contact STC at The election slate is as follows; can-didates appear in alphabetical order. For Vice President (choose one) Alan Houser Victoria Koster-Lenhardt For Treasurer (choose one) Aiessa Moyna For Director (choose two) Bernard Aschwanden Ray Gallon Brian Lindgren Rich… Read the rest

It's Not Easy Being … Clean

By Sarah O’Keefe | Associate Fellow This column casts a critical eye on the Next Big Thing in technical publishing. Please send comments and suggestions to A standards-based workflow is challenging. This column discusses the issues with DITA (an XML standard for technical communication content) and XSL-FO (Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects), a standard used to create PDF from XML ( There are numerous software applications available that “support” DITA. This claim could mean that you can: Export to DITA. Import DITA content. Author DITA files. Save files in DITA. Validate your content against the DITA specification. Use DITA… Read the rest

DITA 1.2: What's in It for Writers?

By Kristen James Eberlein | Senior Member “After working on this release for (can it be?) almost three years, I am delighted that the baby has left the nest…“ OASIS approved DITA 1.2 on 1 December 2010. After working on this release for (can it be?) almost three years, I am delighted that the baby has left the nest, and I think that its new features offer a lot of potential for making technical communicators’ lives simpler. In particular, I think that the robust extensions to the conref (content reference) mechanism will save writers time and enable them to produce… Read the rest

Cleaning a Dirty Beach: What We Do as Technical Communicators

By Thomas Barker | Fellow Considerations of who we are as technical communicators have stimulated academic discussions for years. Articles about defining technical communication occupy special issues of Technical Communication and Intercom and books and conference presentations. Our professional identity has grown over the past 25 years, as we have responded to massive social and technological shifts. And yet, despite the chaos of history, academics have repeatedly tried to define technical communication. Sometimes practitioners led academics (we all became “desktop publishers” in the 1980s) and sometimes academics led practitioners (we all became “public intellectuals” in the 1990s.) And we failed.… Read the rest

Using Sound Files

By Marc Lee | Senior Member Since most technical communicators work primarily with text, they may not be aware of the many possibilities of using sound or audio in their work. In this column, I’ll detail some basics about the types and structure of audio files, and I’ll discuss how these files can be used in familiar multimedia tools such as Captivate and Flash. Today, even Acrobat and PowerPoint offer the option of embedding audio files. Audio requirements may fit your technical communication tasks. Of course, if you are used to working with audio, then you know that audio files… Read the rest

Mark Your Calendar

Organization events across the globe F.Y.I. lists information about nonprofit ventures only. Please send information to 1 25–26 March The Philadelphia Metro Chapter of STC hosts its Annual Conference in Willow Grove, PA, at the Conference Center in the Willow Grove Giant Community Center. The conference includes a workshop on Friday and multiple sessions in three tracks on Saturday. For more information, please contact: STC-PMC 2 30 March–3 April The American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) will hold the IA Summit at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center in Denver, CO. For more information, contact: ASIS&T… Read the rest

A Big Fan of Technical Communication

Katie Doerfler | Member Big Ass Fans ( is the preeminent designer and manufacturer of high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans for industrial, commercial, and, most recently, luxury residential applications. As Big Ass Fans’ technical communicator, I am tasked with a duty that few, if any, technical communicators must manage—creating “no ass” versions of documentation. For the varied audience of Intercom, it’s probably best to maintain a “no ass” policy as well. I joined The Big Fan Company (the “clean” version of our company name) in the spring of 2009 when the company had reached its tenth year and was rapidly growing.… Read the rest