November 2010 – intercom

Category: November 2010

Technical Communication versus Creative Writing

By Jeffrey B. Burton | Senior Member So right after you’ve emailed five teasers out to five notable mystery publications, you suddenly realize that you missed the final “T” in Dashiell Hammett’s last name. Immediately, you wonder if the garage rafters can hold your body weight. Sadly, that’s a true story, but I’d been through enough client reviews at work to not go all fetal-positioned up under my desk. I was able to fix the corresponding error that existed in a Flash teaser movie that I’d linked the editors to in the email. Then, I mumbled a quick prayer in… Read the rest

Project Phoenix Gains Steam

The road ahead for STC will bring many exciting changes as Project Phoenix progresses. During September and October, STC surveyed tech comm representatives about the Society’s brand perception and then sent out a survey to all members to gain insight into the current product and service portfolio. Leaders Webinar and Surveys The Society hosted a live community leaders Web seminar event in October to fuel collaboration, generate implementable ideas, and drive innovation around the products and services that are offered to members today and into the foreseeable future. Through the surveys and the direct interaction with community leaders, including chapter… Read the rest

Discover Gold in Sacramento during the STC Summit

The below information is courtesy of the Sacramento Visitors Bureau. To find out more about places to go and things to see in Sacramento, visit Sacramento’s history began in 1839 when Johann Augustus Sutter settled at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers. When the Mexican government and Governor Alvarado granted 48,000 acres of land to Sutter, they did not realize that they had given away a literal goldmine. Gold was discovered in 1848 just thirty miles east of Sacramento. The rest is history! The news of the discovery spread like wildfire around the globe and fortune hunters… Read the rest

More Details about the Tech Comm Summit Triangle

There’s no three ways about it—the “Tech Comm Summit Triangle” will be the place to be from 15–18 May 2011, as the Society for Technical Communication descends upon Sacramento, CA, for the 2011 Technical Communication Summit. Comprised of the Sacramento Convention Center and the two official conference hotels—the Hyatt Regency and the Sheraton Grand—the Tech Comm Summit Triangle promises to showcase technical communication’s gold-standard event in the city that invites visitors to “Discover Gold.” The Sacramento Convention Center is located in the heart of downtown, across from the State Capitol building and a short drive from the airport. It offers… Read the rest

Conference Registration Opens 1 December

Conference Registration for the 2011 Technical Communication Summit, taking place 15–18 May 2011 in Sacramento, California, opens 1 December. Visit the new Summit website,, for full details on the Summit as they are available. This year, STC is offering a limited “Really Early Bird” rate for the first 100 registrations (with a cutoff date of 31 December). Be one of the first to register and pay only $745 for access to all the great education, vendors, and networking that the Summit offers. That’s a savings of $250 over the regular rate of $995! After those first 100 registrations have… Read the rest

Flash: It May Be a Lot More Than What You've Heard

By Marc Lee | Senior Member “I hate distracting animations on Web pages I read as well as sites like Amazon where I order things.” —Al Kemp (Member, STC Rocky Mountain Chapter) I quote Al Kemp from a survey I conducted of STC members in my area, asking their opinions of Flash. I quote this not to single out Al, but to show a widespread opinion and, I believe, a misperception about Flash. In this article, I hope to broaden your understanding of Flash and help you decide if Flash is a tool worth considering for your own technical communication… Read the rest

Assessing the Overall Quality of a Document Based on Editorial Comments

By Kumar Dhanagopal | Senior Member Technical writers are often responsible for creating and maintaining multiple documents. In organizations where a formal editorial review is integral to the documentation process, technical writers who own multiple documents might need to address a huge volume of editorial input, often received late in the documentation cycle. What do all of those editorial comments, when taken as a whole, really mean in terms of the overall quality of the document? Lots of red ink might mean either that the document is in bad shape or that the editor loves to explain every comment, however… Read the rest

The Emotion Factor in User Manuals: How to Use Affective Assistance to Create More Loyal Customers

By Ellis Pratt Companies spend a lot of money finding appropriate emotional words to persuade prospective customers to buy their products or services. However, this word choice changes once you become a customer. When it comes to giving customers support and assistance, emotional words nearly always disappear; information suddenly becomes like Mr. Spock in Star Trek—cool and unemotional. With technology now a part of our daily lives, is it time to make our supporting product information—user guides and Help pages—reflect more closely our users’ feelings? In other words, can we turn the perception of a dusty manual that no one… Read the rest

Digital Self Defense for Technical Communicators

By Ben Woelk | Member What do technical communicators need to know about information security? How do they protect both their private information and professional assets, including work they may be doing for a client? How can they leverage and use social media safely and effectively? This article discusses key security measures you as a technical communicator and computer user can take to protect yourself and others, and it offers best practices for safe use of social media. I’ll also provide examples of how we’ve addressed similar user security awareness issues at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). I’ve been… Read the rest

The Power of Certification for Independents

Support for the Independent Consultant or Contractor By Elizabeth (Bette) Frick | Associate Fellow This column explores the joys and challenges of managing your own technical communication business. Please share your experience and ideas. Contact Bette Frick at A former student emailed that she had enrolled in a certification course after a year of unemployment. I congratulated her but wondered privately why it had her taken so long. Was it fear, or cost, or the sense that she knew enough already? May be I see value in certification because I’m an official “Learner,” according to my Strengths Finder 2.0… Read the rest