Four Years on the STC Board – A Review

Dear readers, I have just completed two terms as a director at large of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). I think those of you who are STC members deserve a review of what those four years have – and have not – accomplished.

When I first ran, I had a long list of issues that I wanted dealt with. I was going to insist that they be taken seriously, my intention was to be a real pain until the board looked at all of them. Much to my amazement, all the issues on my list got raised within the first six months of my board tenure, without my having to insist on anything! This despite the fact that from my first day, we were faced with the need to find a new Executive Director. Life on the STC board has been a series of surprises, obstacles, successes, and disappointments.

Continue reading “Four Years on the STC Board – A Review”

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An Open Letter to my STC Colleagues

Update: Most of you will already know that I was re-elected with a nice proportion of the vote. Unfortunately, participation in this year’s STC election was slightly down from last year, at 14.98%. I had really hoped that more STC members would vote.

 

Dear Fellow STC Members,

As you know, voting began today for the STC Elections. Most of you know I’m a candidate for re-election, but this is not about my candidacy. This is a plea for you to cast your vote – for whomever you think is the best candidate.

Last year, only 16% of our members voted. This is more or less average for association elections these days, but I wonder if we can’t do better.

I remember before I became involved in Society governance, that the elections seemed distant to me. I didn’t recognize candidates’ names, they were folks across the ocean. I knew little or nothing about society affairs, and it all seemed unimportant to me. Then I began reading the candidates’ statements. Honestly, that only brought society matters a little closer to me. There was no grand ephiphany. But just reading the candidates’ positions on issues that maybe I only partly understood helped me to get a sense of who they were. And once I did that, I started to make choices about which of them I wanted to see on the board of directors.

Today, STC faces many difficult issues, and though we have made progress, we are not out of the woods. Fortunately, all the candidates are dedicated people who care deeply about STC and its future. Each has a slightly different vision of what that might be and how to get there – and your selection will determine the course that STC takes in the next year or two.

I urge you, then, to please take the time to read all the candidate statements, make your own independent choice, and cast your ballot. If we can raise the number of voters, we automatically raise the strength of the mandate our winning candidates receive.

Like any candidate, I hope folks vote for me – but I prefer for you to vote for another candidate than to abstain from voting. Please don’t wait – take some time to learn about each of us, and add your voice. You, as an STC member, will be the beneficiary.

Hey, I’ve Been Elected!

Yowza, I’m elected to the STC Board of Directors!  I’m signed up for two years of hard labour, but it is an honour to serve, and serve I shall.

I don’t need to write a long post here, just remind those of you readers who might also be STC members, that my issues won’t go away – you can see them all on this site, grouped as pages under The Power of Radical Persuasion.

I’ll keep people posted on STC activities from my new perspective in the same set of pages, and on twitter as @gallon4stc. This main posting area will continue to be separate, devoted to real communication issues.

I would also really like to say how much I have appreciated this campaign, and that ALL the candidates have been good, worthy candidates. STC is lucky to have such depth of talent.

I also especially want to thank those members who voted. Not that many do, so if you did vote, even if you didn’t vote for me, you are a hero in my eyes. Thank you for voting.

TCWorld/Tekom and STC TC Summit: Two Realities

Since attending the TCWorld/Tekom conference for the first time last October, I’ve been thinking about how it both resembles and doesn’t resemble the STC Technical Communications Summit, an event that I have attended several times.

I had heard a lot of different opinions about this, and find that my own perception of this first dive into the Tekom world is a bit different from many of the comments I’ve heard. Here are a few of my observations, in no particular order, comparing the two events.

Basic Statistics


Number of days:

  • TCWorld/Tekom: 3
  • STC Summit: 4

Cost (member std rates):

  • TCWorld/Tekom: 650€
  • STC Summit: $1 025

Social Events included:

  • TCWorld/Tekom: Refreshment breaks, lunch every day
  • STC Summit: Refreshment breaks, 2 receptions, 1 lunch

Number of sessions:

  • TCWorld/Tekom: English – 62 sessions, 24 workshops German- 82 sessions, 25 workshops
  • STC Summit: 80 sessions, workshops extra

Post event access:

  • TCWorld/Tekom: Some presentation slides available for download
  • STC Summit: Summit@aClick access to full recordings of most sessions

Both conferences include trade fairs (Tekom’s is many times bigger than STC’s), and vendor showcases. Tekom also includes technology sessions that don’t seem to have a direct equivalent at the STC Summit, though some of these themes are treated in STC regular sessions.

Tekom offers a discounted rate to members of TC Europe member organisations. STC members do not receive a discount. STC, to my knowledge, has no discount programme for members of sister organisations anywhere.

Tekom’s trade fair does not include the innovation of the consultant’s corner, the space reserved for small consultancies that has been quite successful at recent STC Summits.

Content

As Kai Weber has pointed out in his overview of Tekom, it really is two parallel events: one in English, one in German. I have the impression (not totally backed up by observation) that more of the German sessions were oriented to practitioners, and more of the English sessions were oriented towards managers or consultants.

Like the STC Summit, presentations are organised in parallel tracks, and you can follow a single track or skip from one to another, as your needs and interest direct you.

Sarah O’Keefe, who speaks fluent German, said that she preferred to attend more of the German sessions. Her reasoning is that she already knows most of the English presenters, and the German presentations offer a different perspective on the themes that occupy our attention. My German is very rusty, and what remains in my head is just enough for me to feel frustrated when I try to decipher a spoken presentation. I must refresh my German before attending another Tekom event, because I would have very much liked to experience what Sarah was talking about.

Scott Abel organized a content strategy day at TCWorld that I took part in, that was the highlight of the conference for me. As I understand it, this was a new initiative for Tekom, not unlike the effort at the Dallas STC Summit. I would have liked to see a more dynamic followup at the Sacramento STC summit, as I have indicated elsewhere.

A major component of the TCWorld/Tekom event is localisation, and GALA is a partner in the event. The result is that if localisation is not at the centre of your concerns, it will seem that a huge part of the event does not concern you. A very high percentage of exhibitors at the trade fair were also vendors of localisation services, software, etc.

On the other hand, TCWorld/Tekom features a separate “Associations World,” a sort of trade fair for not for profits, for which STC has no equivalent. Exhibitors this year included other technical communication organisations such as ISTC (UK) and organisations from India, Japan, Poland, etc. It’s interesting to note that Tekom, a for-profit organisation, hosts associations, and STC, a not-for-profit, charitable organisation, doesn’t really have an equivalent.

Bottom Line

Both TCWorld/Tekom and STC Summits are great events. They have different characters, based in part on cultural differences, and also on the different business models and size of the two organisations. I am pleased to have been able to attend, and present at, both.