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President's Message: Building on Our Momentum
2011, Q2 (July 22, 2011)
By Andrea Wenger, Carolina Chapter President (2011-2012)

Andrea Wenger
Andrea Wenger

Leadership Day at the STC Summit was a busy one for me. In addition to presenting on how the Carolina Chapter is webcasting our program meetings, I also webcasted and recorded three other progressions being given throughout the day. Other communities are aware of what our chapter is doing. They’re looking to us as a mentor. And in return, they’re giving me some great ideas on how our chapter can keep growing and improving.

The Carolina Chapter is a leader within STC. The challenge this year is to build on our accomplishments, providing even more value to chapter members and the larger technical communication community.

Change is a constant in our profession. But the rate of change seems to be accelerating. New tools are popping up at a dizzying rate. How do we find time to evaluate them, and still do our day-to-day job? And how do we get up to speed before the Next Big Thing hits the market, putting us even further behind?

The Carolina Chapter is here to help you address these challenges. Most members of our administrative council are active in social media. We’re watching the trends, and we know who the thought leaders are. Because we’re now webcasting our meetings (in addition to holding them onsite at Tekelec), we can bring in speakers from anywhere in the world.

While onsite meetings are a great place to network, if you can’t make it out to Morrisville on a Thursday evening, you can now attend our program meetings from the convenience of your home. Just log in to GoToWebinar and listen through your computer’s speakers. (Or if you’re out and about, you can use the GoToMeeting iPad app.)

Here are just some of the challenges those in our profession may currently face:

  • The economy continues to be tough. What can I do to set myself apart from the competition?
  • Core technical communication skills like writing and editing are becoming commodities. How can I ensure that I offer employers marketable skills that won’t be off-shored?
  • Single sourcing of content is becoming central to our profession. What role can I play in content curation?
  • In a few short years, more people will access the Internet from a mobile device than from a computer. How will this trend affect how I develop and distribute content?
  • The economy is becoming increasingly global. How can I keep translation costs down yet still ensure quality?
  • DITA remains an important technology for our profession, yet many of us (if not most) have not adopted it. How do I decide whether, and how, to implement DITA in my organization?
  • Controlled authoring software is reaching maturity, and new competitors are coming to market. Is controlled authoring right for my business, and can we afford it?

The chapter leadership is looking at these and other topics for our program meetings in the coming year. Our use of web tools means that our chapter offerings are limited only by the time and energy of our volunteers. If you’d like to help, please contact me at president at stc-carolina dot org. We’ve got long-term and short-term opportunities available. This year, the primary needs are with meeting planning and with recruiting new members. The Society is especially focusing on students, and I’d like to see the chapter do so as well. Students are the future of our profession, and they bring energy and a fresh perspective to the organization.

Remember, this is your chapter. We’re here to help you solve the challenges you face in your job. If you have a topic you’d like us to address, send me an email. If you can recommend a speaker (or would like to speak yourself), let me know about that as well. The chapter is only as strong as its members. The more you put in, the more you get out. There’s a tremendous amount of expertise in our community, and I learn something new from STC members every day. Come grow with us!

Andrea is a senior technical writer at Schneider Electric. She blogs about writing and personality at andreajwenger.com. She can be reached at president at stc-carolina dot org. End of article.

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