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The STC 54th Annual Conference
2007, Q3 (October 02, 2007)
By John Martin, NCSU Chapter President

John Martin
John Martin
As the incoming president of our NCSU STC student community, I had the privilege of attending STC’s 54th Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN, from May 14th through May 16th. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have attended, which wouldn’t have happened without the $1000 scholarship I received from the STC-Carolina Community, our local professional community here in the Research Triangle Park area. Thank you.

The most valuable part of the conference for me was Leadership Day, which was held on Sunday, the day before the actual conference started. It was a full day session for leaders in all aspects of STC—from student community leaders, to professional community leaders, to Special Interest Group (SIG) leaders, to the leaders of the STC International organization.

The sessions in this year’s conference were categorized in five tracks, or institutes, which included: the Publishing Systems and Content Management Institute; the Globalization, Localization and Translation Institute; the Sharing Corporate Knowledge Institute; the Information Design and Architecture Institute; and the Web 2.0 Institute. Rather than concentrating my session selections in any one of these tracks, I created my own—what I came to call—the Star Struck Track.

My Star Struck Track consisted of sessions being presented by “famous” people (i.e., “the heavy hitters”) in the field of Technical Communication. Two of them were people whose books I’ve read as part of our Master of Science in Technical Communication program at NCSU. I attended a session called "Gluing Their Eyes to Your Screen" given by Karen Schriver, whose book Dynamics in Document Design was required reading in my ENG 517 class, and I attended a session called "Portfolio Management: Developing a Corporate Information Strategy" by JoAnn Hackos, whose book Managing Your Documentation Projects was used in my ENG 518 class. I also attended a session called "An Interview with Jared Spool," facilitated by Carolyn Snyder. Jared has been called “Usability’s bad boy” and tends to be one of those people you either love or you hate.

The big news at the conference from the Society was its update on work being done with the Bureau of Labor Statistics with regards to the Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC) entry for “Technical Writer."
The big news at the conference from the Society was its update on work being done with the Bureau of Labor Statistics with regards to the Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC) entry for “Technical Writer,” which currently reads: “Write technical materials such as equipment manuals, appendices and maintenance materials.” The society is working to have the entry renamed as “Technical Communicator” and redefined as: “Develop and design instructional and informational tools needed to assure the safe, appropriate and effective use of science and technology, intellectual property, and manufactured products and services. Combine multimedia knowledge and strong communication skills with technical expertise to educate across the entire spectrum of users’ abilities, technical expertise, and visual and auditory capabilities.” This work is significant in that it has implications about technical writing being recognized as a profession, which in turn factors into the salary ranges for our work.

I put my leadership skills to work, and I took advantage of the great opportunity to network at the conference by organizing what my flyer billed as a “GLBT OUTING (So to speak!).” GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender, but all people were invited. The flyer promised: “No orientation verification will be done at the door.” We had about 10-12 people attend, including one STC regional director who thanked me profusely for organizing the event, and where I made new technical writing friends from Florida, Utah, Texas, Minneapolis, and Georgia.

I returned from the conference bursting with pride over our student community’s Community of Distinction Award for the 2006-2007 year and excited and enthused about leading~~along with our Co-President Andrew Armstrong~~our achieving student community in the 2007-2008 academic year.

John can be reached at nematome at nc dot rr dot com. End of article.

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