STC Intercom – themes and advice wanted

I’m quite flattered and humbled (and more than a little bit intimidated) to serve as leader on the STC Intercom advisory panel for this coming editorial year. We’re five people from different backgrounds and perspectives, tasked with preparing 10 themes for issues by August 2008. We’ve got academia, consulting, work-aday, future thinkers, and the only gap in our panel would be someone with regulatory or government limitations, er, opportunities for their content (applications for the open position, or suggestions for contacts are welcome!)

At our first informal breakfast meeting, Ed Rutkowski, Tom Johnson, and I brainstormed themes and topics for articles. Here’s our starting long list that we’ll work from and add to – and please, feel free to add to it in the comments!


  • Agile
  • Security (such as online identity and blending that with our user assistance systems to provide online community features)
  • Biographical or semi-celebrity feature articles, such as “how did I get to be JoAnn Hackos or Jared Spool or… fill in the blank”
  • Mobile and wireless effects on tech comm
  • Gadgets and devices (get nostalgic about the Selectric? and then move towards the gadgetry of today, hardware or software? Roll up keyboards?)
  • Outsourcing, crowdsourcing, friendsourcing
  • Eco-friendly or green themes, how do you save the planet as a tech writer?
  • Career planning
  • Location awareness – cultural sensitivity but also could be online help that knows where the reader is located geographically or awareness of where a cell or mobile phone is located
  • Messaging and brand awareness
  • Collaboration
  • Virtualization
  • Future forwards thinking, not just trends and trendsetting but really out there like flying cars kind of concepts
  • Alternatives to online help
  • Social networking
  • Usability for online help
  • Audience considerations, especially in industrial settings, high risk settings, regulated settings
  • Patterns – design patterns are used in object oriented programming but they started with architectural patterns (entry way is a solution to the problem of entering a building and a room and so on.)

I’ve also identified some areas of deficit where I’m not quite sure how to fill the void. One is, there are no Gen Nexters voices that I know of in STC yet, and I’d really like to change that somehow with STC Intercom. Gen Nexters are age 18-25, just starting out in our profession. Since now is the first time in history that four generations are in the workplace, I’m striving to find those tech writers who are just starting out but have a passion for their career choice. From what I’ve read, Generation Next is made up of 18-25 year-olds (born between 1981 and 1988). Generation X (that’s me!) was born between 1966 and 1980 and ranges in age from 26-40. The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, ranges in age from 41-60. Finally, those over age 60 (born before 1946) are often called the Greatest Generation. Please, contact me if you are of Gen Next or could tell me of someone who I could talk with for input on our themes and perhaps contributing to an issue.


11 responses to “STC Intercom – themes and advice wanted

  1. Those of us born in 1965 don’t seem to fit in any of the four generations… (the youngest baby boomers are now 44)

  2. Hi Doug, looks like you get to pick which generation you identify with more, lucky you! 🙂

  3. *AWESOME* – congrats, Anne, Tom, and Ed! I’m so glad to see this direction and team take shape. I know there are a lot of folks out there not yet sharing their insights and learnings – the gauntlet has been thrown, people!!

    I’ll throw in my 2c on the subject of flying eco-cars at least..;)

    PS. is the Location awareness bit missing words at the end?

    – lisa

  4. Ha, yes, thanks Lisa! I mean to talk about mobile phones and GPS locations and that sort of thing, so I’ve updated the post to add.

    Speaking of flying eco-cars, did you see that now lets you see the carbon footprint of each of your trips? Nifty.

  5. Nice – noticed dopplr is on twitter, too.

    Are you considering “business” as a theme? I think it’s an under-represented area, and our industry could use a lot more direction and creative thinking there. E.g. revenue-bearing models, metrics/BI, enterprise-wide business strategies for information delivery, etc.

  6. Pingback: Technical Writer as Conversation Stopper, and Other Notes from the STC Summit in Philadelphia | I'd Rather Be Writing - Tom Johnson

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  9. I would like to see things for Lone Writers as it seems like many companies/departments have one writer or the writers are split into different groups and don’t get to interact.

  10. I am a big fan of Intercom and read every article in some issues. I’d like to see more on usability and usability testing, a regular column on English language usage, and more from specific SIGs. For example, lone writers have a very different perspective; it would be great to hear from them periodically. I’m sure the same is true for every other SIG within STC.

    Bravo to all of you for taking this on!!!

  11. Thanks, Robin and Kris! Sounds like a lone writer’s perspective would be valuable, if not for a theme, perhaps an article. There are more topics to choose from than I had originally envisioned, which is great!

    One of my friends went to lone writer status over a year ago and she has an entirely different perspective since doing so. She has found ways to reach out to bloggers and she has been amazed at how well bloggers have responded to her. When I think of lone writers, I also think of telecommuters and the mobile workforce and the book “Connect! A Guide to a New Way of Working from GigaOM’s Web Worker Daily” and how much technology enables interaction. Thanks for triggering more thoughts.

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