Monday at the Conference

Kathy Bine wrote the following post and asked me to publish it to the blog.

Sessions I attended today:

Lone Writers SIG meeting: we need to figure out how to use the budget. I came up with a couple ideas: a scholarship; a research grant; hosting an STC webinar. We’ll see what comes of it.

Incorporating Usability into Content Management: lots of basic content management instruction, per the speaker very little formal usability; actually more of a user-centered design process without formative testing or even summative testing until release to production.

Beyond the Basics of Project Management: Excellent review of project management as it pertains to tech communicators.

Had nice chats with Neil Perlin, Joe Welinske, and people from the Management SIG.

Shortly I’ll try to get energized to go to the Instructional Design and Learning Community SIG progression.

Apparently there are big thunderstorms this afternoon. Hard to tell inside the convention center. I haven’t seen the sun since 6:45 this morning.

I found a very interesting book: Software Project Secrets: Why Software Projects Fail (Expert’s Voice) (Hardcover) by George Stepanek (Author)
The bookstore here sells it for $40; Amazon has it for as much as $36, and as little as $8. Clearly it’s worthwhile for me to browse the selection here but to shop elsewhere.

Tonight at 6 is the STC Annual Meeting, where Paula Berger hands over the presidency to Linda Oestreich. It is followed by the STC Forum, where members ask questions and voice our concerns to the STC leadership. There are a few hot-button issues that I know about:

First: STC’s bylaws need to be amended to update them in accordance with current New York State law. If we fail to do that, we lose our existence as an association. Therefore, we need to amend them and get agreement among members so that once this goes to a vote, there are no roadblocks.

Second: The rebate to chapters needs to be described in detail. W.C. Wiese described the model to me yesterday. It appears that we are moving toward a model where the chapters will be consulted regarding what they need for funding to achieve their goals. Some seem to think that the rebate will be determined on a chapter-by-chapter basis. My understanding is that the model requires consensus among chapters to identify what they need for funding. In any case, appears that as of Jan 2008 we will no longer use the tiered model ($24 for first 150 members, $16 for next 150 members, $8 for each member after that) because it’s a pain in the butt.

Third issue: Service to chapters. We’re seeing a huge surge in STC office support for SIGs, which is great and I support. However, it appears that that support is occurring at the cost of support for chapters. Example: SIGs had tables last night for the Expo opening, and they have a table today, too. Per one chapter president, the chapters weren’t offered the same option (pay for a table, get exposure at the conference), and the implication was that they didn’t have the option of even paying for a table. The irony is that as the STC leadership seems to be moving away from geographic delineations of the membership, the SIGs and chapters are moving toward greater emphasis and interest in geography as a way to connect to others with similar interests.

Fourth issue: Idea exchange. SIGs now receive quite a lot of funding for their activities when it’s difficult for them to find a way to spend it. There are a number of options available, but we should consider ways that SIG leaders can swap ideas for doing this. For chapters, it would be great if chapter leaders could have more discussion time with STC leaders, and also have an idea exchange for planning events, running competitions, etc. Right now, we have a very informal model. I’m not suggesting that we get really rigorous, but some structure would ensure that those who are open to the information see it.

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Carolyn Kelley Klinger

I'm a technical communication consultant working primarily in the bioinformatics field and also designing and delivering training classes on 508 compliance for electronic documents. I have been involved with the STC Washington, DC - Baltimore chapter since 1994 and am an STC Fellow.