The Roving Technical Editors Report on the STC Summit

By Ann Marie Queeney and Kelly Schrank

Thank you to our survey participants!

Although the NATO conference was the higher-profile event, STC managed to generate its own excitement at the 59th STC Summit at the Hyatt O’Hare. The STC Summit, held May 20 – 23, offered a wide spectrum of interesting topics, time to reconnect with friends and colleagues, and opportunities to meet new people. Our SIG even merited a “shout out” during Monday’s Lightning Talks session. Bill Swallow, LingualLinx, in his session entitled, “MySTC: Present Case, Future Considerations” mentioned the TE SIG’s effective use of MySTC. Thank you to our web master, Rick Sapir!


One of the Summit highlights is discussing the sessions and sharing information with other attendees. In an attempt to bring a bit of the Summit experience to our membership who did not attend this year, several TE SIG members volunteered to be “roving reporters” and ask TE SIG attendees their thoughts about the Summit. Here are the paraphrased results. We hope you enjoy the commentary and plan to attend next year’s Summit!

Q: Did you learn something new at the Summit?

  • Patricia (Pat) Moell, software services: I learned about new tools. For example, tools to use with HTML5.
  • Rebecca Leigh, satellite industry: The session on understanding resistance to change was interesting. I also found the fundamental attribute error concept interesting: If someone else makes a mistake, we may attribute the error to personality traits. However, if we make a mistake, we may identify it as situational.
  • Daniel Riechers, TE SIG Treasurer; electronics manufacturing field: Shared review and editing in SharePoint. It is more efficient.
  • Jenifer Servais, software services: How to create a strategy for moving existing content to various mobile types of communication. I received ideas to take back with me.
  • Theresa Kiedinger, 4-year editor, first Summit: Most practical tip: Try using checklists. Plain language focus.
  • Vicki Byrd, 21-year editor, 8-year STC member: Create once, publish everywhere—single sourcing, intelligent content will be the big trend to capitalize on.

Q: Did you see any trends at the Summit? What do you think their impact will be on our profession?

  • Pat Moell: Documenting for mobile devices. These devices impact how technical communicators write and edit. There are fewer words, so every word is important. Technical communicators must also be aware of how the words flow. The content must look good on different devices.
  • Mary Jo David, consultant: There is an emphasis on reusable content. Reusable content makes the case for the importance of editing. If the test will be used in multiple places, we must ensure the text is correct.
  • Daniel Riechers: The increase in the use of social media and content on mobile devices.
  • Jenifer Servais: The movement of content to mobile devices.
  • Theresa Kiedinger: Move towards mobile publishing and adaptive content.
  • Vicki Byrd: Especially liked MS Manual of Style; good ideas on talking to localization team, using contractions.

Q: Overheard at the Summit: Was there a comment that resonated with you?

  • Mary Jo David: Neil Perlin, a speaker at the Lightning Talks, emphasized how important curiosity is for technical communicators. As editors and writers, we must stay curious because it enables us to keep learning.
  • Vicki Byrd: “Intelligent content is the freight train headed toward you.” —Joe Gollner

Tell us about a personal highlight or memory.

  • Rebecca Leigh: As a first-time Summit attendee, I appreciated the opportunity to talk with people in the technical communication field.
  • Ann Marie Queeney, medical device industry: Scott Berkun, the STC keynote speaker, participated in Monday’s Lightning Talks session. His participation was unannounced and his talk was on how he writes, accompanied by a speeded-up video showing his writing and editing process. I was very impressed that the keynote speaker wanted to be actively involved and a part of our Summit. For those who would like to see his presentation, please visit http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2010/video-how-to-write-1000-words/
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