Advancing the profession: a call to action

The mission of STC is to advance technical communication. STC is failing in that mission, so now I ask every tech comm professional to step up and, individually, do what you can to advance the profession outside of STC.

I reviewed my STC-related tech comm profession work:

  • XML Strategist. A quarterly column in STC Intercom.
  • Track manager, STC Summit

On April 1*, I sent this email to Liz Pohland, the STC editor:

With regret, I have to discontinue the XML Strategist column in Intercom. It’s been a pleasure working with you on this, and I hope we have an opportunity to work together in a different context.

Recent events have me reconsidering my involvement with STC. I will continue my efforts to “advance the profession” with blogging and other writing.



* Note: Unfortunate date. Not a joke.

As my Intercom articles already appear on Scriptorium’s blog, I don’t think that dropping them from Intercom will have any practical effect on contributions to the profession.

I am taking no action on the STC Summit. I will fulfill my track manager duties at the Summit to ensure that attendees have the best possible experience. Anything else would be unfair to the people who have already registered.

My participation at the national/international level will end after the Summit. I am very concerned for my friends in STC leadership, but I have been unable to improve the situation as a member/volunteer/participant.

It’s worth noting the many, many local events that deserve our support. Just this week, we have the Spectrum 2011 conference hosted by the Rochester, NY, chapter. My home chapter, STC Carolina, is hosting a workshop on APIs – SDKs: Breaking Into and Succeeding in a Specialty Market in mid-April with Ed Marshall of Marshall Documentation Consulting in Massachusetts.

A variety of informal social networks are also springing up. I encourage you to participate. Let’s make sure that the profession can advance even if the formal organization can’t help us.

How will you contribute to advancing the profession?


11 Responses to “Advancing the profession: a call to action”

  1. Janet Egan Says:

    Deja Vu Department: For awhile, back in the 1980s (which I’m not supposed to admit remembering), several folks in the RT 128 area who were disenchanted with STC at that time started a whole ‘nother organization called SDP (Software Documentation Professionals). It lasted a few years but eventually people drifted back to the local STC chapters, which did manage to become more relevant.

    So What to Do: The local STC chapters can and will continue to advance the professional growth of members. The gaping hole that needs to be filled is a credible national/international presence to advance the profession as a whole. I continue to be amazed at how little STC is doing/has done to communicate what our profession is about to the outside world and to support members in making the business case for technical communications in their organizations. To expect every lone tech writer to formulate a business case for good user documentation is to create chaos. I feel a blog post building up.

  2. Robert Armstrong Says:

    See, there is my problem. What is “our profession?” Technical Writing is only a small part of what I do. I’m also the UX consultant for the Dev team, communications manager for the company, graphic artist, and sometimes marketing writer. I consider all of that to be Technical Communication.

    I think STC has done some work towards being that umbrella, but there is still a hard line towards the Technical Writing which skews things, making it all seem off-balance.

  3. Anindita Basu Says:

    The thing is – I’ve been volunteering for the profession even when I was not a STC member and continue to do so even after I’ve let my membership lapse.

    Some of my activities:
    (i) Editor of the STC India newsletter
    (ii) Volunteer at behind-the-scenes task forces for STC India conferences, learning sessions, and mentoring activities
    (iii) Regular contributor to STC India’s newsletter (when I am not the editor)
    (iv) Volunteer for the work for the TWIN-Tekom India conference
    (iv) Blogger
    (v) Team member, iSTC Project for International Guidelines to English Spelling

    I will continue in this manner.

  4. Chris Benz Says:

    I understand and respect your position, Sarah, but this is disappointing. STC is losing more and more of its best advocates. Yes, many of us complain about STC and point out the error of the Society’s ways, but I believe that most of us do so because we CARE about STC and want to see it do better.

    I hope that STC improves to the point that we’re worthy again of having advocates like you and Bill Swallow. My concern is that without the likes of you, we cannot improve.

  5. Brook Bailey Says:

    I would echo these comments. I’ve been very disillusioned by the new website, the Body of Knowledge and recent webinars. As a newer member of the profession I feel I have a lot to learn and a lot to contribute, but no clear avenue for how to do either is provided by STC. Personally, I plan on concentrating on networking through social media and find oppurtunities to put my passion to get use.

    • Chris Benz Says:

      Uh, oh. I hope you weren’t disappointed with MY webinar! (You can tell me if you were. I can handle it. I think.)

  6. Karen Lowe Says:

    Chris hit it on the head. That being said, I’ll continue blogging about DITA with the hope that it improves tech communicators’ professional lives. That and keeping up with other blogs, tweets, LinkedIn questions, etc. will keep me current on trends and best practices.

    Thanks for all that you’ve done and are doing!

  7. Andrea Wenger Says:

    I think the best way for me to advance the profession is to stick with STC. I’m running for president of the Carolina Chapter this year, and I’m looking for new ways to serve the local tech comm community while also making our programs available to an international audience.

  8. wordpress post Says:

    It isn’t the quickest or most correct GPS on the earth, however it gets the jobb achieved most of the time.

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