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From the Editor's Desk
2005, Q3 (July 06, 2007)
By Meredith Blackwelder, Managing Editor, Carolina Communiqué

As I gather my thoughts about the technical communication topics that this issue covers, I found that an unwritten theme flowing through this issue is one of efficiency.

In our busy lives, we strive to work, play, and even conduct our personal lives efficiently. We are deadline-driven in all facets of our lives: deliver this publication to the printer by November 1; take the kids to get new clothes before Saturday, train and be ready for the 5k race by November 3; loose 20 pounds before the reunion on December 15.

How can we work it all in? Does something have to give? In order for STC to be an active part of your life, you must choose to volunteer for things you have time to do, as well as things you want to do. The same goes for activities at work and at home.

In Anjela Duke’s article, she describes how the upcoming changes in our chapter will make us more efficient:
  • Calling our SIGs “local SIGs” will help us better distinguish between local and national SIG groups. She hopes this will eliminate any confusion members have between the two organizations.
  • Offering RSS feeds will help us be more efficient in keeping up to date with events in our chapter. Rather than proactively checking your email or the STC-Carolina web site, the feeds will automatically send you information that you passively receive.
  • Spending our chapter money efficiently will help us continue to provide for our chapter, even though Society has given us substantially less money.

In Andy Smith and Bill Albing’s article, they describe how mentoring can help both an experienced communicator and a newbie. By having a mentor, the newbie efficiently learns tools and tricks of the trade without wading through his first two or three years aimlessly, having to take time to figure things out on his own. The mentor provides direction and helps him efficiently become comfortable in his role as a technical communicator.

In Heather Brautman’s article, she describes how the Society-level technical editing SIG is transforming itself to become more efficient. She points out how communication has improved with the addition of a support system for managers and new volunteers. Also, she sites how efficiency can be improved within the Society at large by including SIG members into planning and running the International Conference each year.

The issue’s articles on grammar, which include both Andrea Wenger’s and Melissa Alton Thornton’s, focus on how correct grammar and clarity helps readers be more efficient, helping them read information quickly and comprehensively so they can successfully complete a task at hand.

Michael Harvey’s and Bill Albing’s articles on usability are all about efficiency—how we can help users be much more efficient when interacting with a product. Michael suggests that we can help the product be designed with personas in mind, conduct heuristics, and incorporate usability testing into the design process. Bill gives “compare and contrast” reviews of two books on usability. Both authors provide an outstanding reading list for further research on this topic.

In addition to an underlying theme of efficiency, this issue contains two articles on STC competitions. These articles detail how hard our competitions committee has been working in the past few weeks — their efficiency is a factor of their tremendous, ongoing success, and how you can get involved in International competitions.

Diane Feldman’s and Eve Hrytsay’s article that profiles the chapter’s volunteer of the quarter, Heather Brautman, depicts someone who is the epitome of efficiency — with all Heather has going in her life, she prioritizes her tasks, makes time for school, work, STC, and her personal life.

Guest contributor David Coverston suggests using a dual-monitor setup to efficiently work on projects that require several windows to be open at once. Being able to put floating palettes, reference materials, and other documents on one monitor and active, working windows on another is both a convenience and a time-saver.

Overall, our authors give suggestions on how to make your STC life, your work life, and your users (readers) more efficient. With the wealth of information and advice this issue provides, you’re sure to make some improvements that will help you become more efficient!

Meredith Blackwelder can be reached at newsletter at stc-carolina dot org. End of article.

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