Friday, June 22, 2007

Jean-luc Doumont to Speak at Currents!

We have tried very hard, especially Holly Harkness, our Immediate Past President, to secure Jean-luc as a speaker/presenter for the annual Currents conference. If you have heard Jean-luc speak at the STC International conference or elsewhere, you understand why! His talk on signs at this year's conference was one of the highlights for me. He is a dynamic speaker and will greatly add to the significance of our conference.

Thanks Holly for keeping with this effort and finally securing Jean-luc's services. I can't wait!

T-COMmons Meet & Greet

Last night was the T-COMmons Meet & Greet event at the Delkwood Grill. Lots of people I haven't seen in a while showed up! It was a fun evening with discussions ranging from SPSU to TCAB to things related to technical communications. There were several students in attendance. This was a good thing since students and the TCOM program at SPSU is the reason for these events.

I really enjoy these events. I am happy to support the technical communication program at SPSU. I thought I graduated such a long time ago (2003), but I was at a table with some who graduated from the Master's program in 1997 and earlier! It is a great program and was well worth the time and effort I expended to get my Master's. If you are thinking about the possibility of getting a Master's you need to investigate this program and what it offers for your career. It will be worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Last night's meeting

The monthly STC Atlanta meeting was held last night at Mirant. The program was "Bringing the conference to you" and was a rather unique experience. Rather than have each panelist speak on his/her impressions of the conference, Robert Armstrong (2nd VP) asked questions that allowed for a healthy discussion of the conference. I think this format allowed a better understanding of the conference for the attendees.

Attendance was rather light. Hopefully, it was because of the truck crash on I-285 that closed down the expressway or maybe because of the rain, or both. Or maybe you, our members, are tired of this type of program. Are you? If you are or aren't I would like to hear from you. Comment on this blog or email me.

In fact, as we begin this program year, I would like to hear from any and all of you with your ideas about what you would like to see as a program. Or, if you can't think of any new program ideas, comment on past programs. Did you really like a particular program? Did you really hate a particular program? Is there a type of program you prefer over others? Without input from you we will not be able to provide what you want in programming. And, after all, you are the real reason we have programs!

One other quick question since I am asking for responses: Do you play golf? I know it is a silly question on a blog about technical communications and STC Atlanta. But I have had discussions with other long-time STCers and most of them say that technical communicators do not play golf. I think this is sort of like dismissing the needs of your users without finding out what their needs really are.

In a previous life as a cable television system manager, I made a decision to delete a channel (CMT) that carried country music because we had limited channel capacity and had to find room for a new pay channel, and because our customers were young professionals and did not listen to country music. Boy, was I wrong! I received so many calls that I had to find room for the channel and put it back on. So, before technical communicators as golfers are dismissed out-of-hand, do you? Do you play golf? Let me know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ultimate Web 2.0?

While I was traveling to California on AirTran, I read their GO magazine. In the magazine was an article about using their online comunity to design t-shirts that they sell for $12 to $25. They have on-going design contests where the winners receive $2000 prize and the company gets the design.

Have you ever heard of the term "crowdsourcing"? It comes from Jeff Howe from Wired magazine. The term describes "using an open-call model where a web-based community replaces work done by a small group of professionals." This is the ultimate use of Web 2.0, in my opinion.

Could we use this sort of thing to design usable websites or Help or other technical communication products? Here are four of the company's commandments:

1- Allow users to help create your content. Whatever the project, let your users help make it better. (Usability anyone?)
2- Make sure your project is in the hands of the community. Listen to what the members of your community have to say and make them part of your company.
3- Let your community grow itself. Nurture the community and give them the tools to spread the word.
4- Reward the community that makes your project possible. They started with prize money of $50 for winning designs and now they pay $2000.

What do you think?

T-COMmons Event

As a member of the Technical Communication Advisory Board (TCAB) for SPSU, I felt it important to post this. Hope to see you there.

Looking to broaden your network of technical communication peers?

Want to socialize with other SPSU students? Want to connect with alumni and other professionals?

You need to attend the T-COMmons Summer Meet and Greet!

WHAT: T-COMmons Summer Meet and Greet

WHERE: Delkwood Grill, 2769 Delk Road, SE, Marietta, Georgia

WHEN: Thursday, June 21, 2007, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Come mingle with other technical communication professionals, students, and supporters.

Order off Delkwood Grill’s menu of Americana food and learn more about the T-COMmons community. Information available on or email for more details.

Thanks, Carol!

Dr. Carol Barnum of Southern Polytechnic State University sent me an email recently that she was unable to comment on this blog because she didn't have a Gmail account. I had inadvertently set up commenting for logged in members only.

I have since changed that and opened commenting to one and all. So please comment.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pardon the lack of posts

I just wanted to mention the reason for my lack of posts over the past week or so. I was on vacation taking my grandson out to California.

My daughter, Robin Rainwater (whom many of you know is a technical communicator), is working remotely for the summer from California. (Not many companies would allow that, but Robin's company, ECS of Woodstock, GA, is allowing her to do just that.) Her husband, Jeremy, re-enlisted in the Marine Corps and is stationed at Twentynine Palms, CA. In October, he is being deployed to Iraq for six months, so Robin doesn't want to move to California yet. So she drove out a few weeks ago and we flew with her son, Ansel, (our grandson) to bring him out for the summer. At the end of August, Robin and Ansel will return to live with us until Jeremy returns from Iraq.

I don't know if any of you have traveled with an 8 year old, but I didn't have much time to spend blogging. So I apologize for that. I am very glad there are people like Jeremy willing to defend this country we live in!

I should be back on schedule now.

STC Atlanta Community Service Project

On Saturday, June 16, led by our Community Service Manager, Julie Brock, approximately 12 members of STC Atlanta donated their time to helping sort and box up surplus medical supplies at MedShare International.

Check out the pictures:

According to Sarah Jacobson with MedShare, the US medical establishment throws away about 5 tons of good medical supplies every day. So MedShare accepts donations of the good medical supplies and uses volunteers to sort and box for shipment to needy hospitals and medical facilities around the world. When she gave us the tour before we started on our project, she showed us a truckload of box medical supplies that are being shipped to Kenya. See the MedShare website:

It was a fun day and a learning experience. I was a paramedic in a previous part of my life and never thought anything about taking off gloves and throwing them away, only to have to re-glove a moment later. Sarah told us stories about the lack of simple things like gloves in some developing areas of the world. Some of the things I sorted were, gloves, Foley catheters, medical blades, drapes, saline for flushing various medical tubes, and on and on. I would like to do this again.

Thank you, Julie, for this wonderful opportunity for making a contribution to the betterment of the world. As STC members we should always be willing to help those in need.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Demise of Technical Writing?

What do you think about this article by Jared Spool? I like Michael Hughes' comment.

Tell me what you think.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Getting down to business

Last evening the new officers of STC Atlanta met to set goals, brainstorm about the coming year, and plan for the coming year. We met over pizza and beer in Alpharetta and it was a pleasant time. Present were Howard Speck, Robert Armstrong, Leigh Richardson, and Jeff Albers. Holly Harkness had a prior commitment.

We are the officers who have been elected to serve you this year and we are going to do our best to make this an exciting and eventful year.

Before I forget, I would like to remind you of Michelle Schoen's podcasts at One of her podcasts was picked up and linked by Tom Johnson at Tech Writer Voices, a podcast site with a lot of interesting information pertinent to technical communicators. Tom's site is at He has recorded a podcast from the Suncoast chapter meeting about Microsoft's new Vista operating system. He linked to Michelle's podcast of Rob Houser's presentation at the last STC Atlanta meeting.

I think this is a great thing. This is the sort of thing that all STC chapters should be doing. Every chapter has interesting meetings, presentations, and members and we should share this information. Kudos to Michelle for providing her podcasts! Look for her podcasts to be posted on the STC Atlanta website as soon as our new webmaster, Kevin Hayes has a chance to get it set up.

Back to our meeting, we discussed many topics like the possibility of rotating meetings to different areas of Atlanta. We will definitely be having at least one meeting at Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) sometime during the year. We are considering other locations. Tell me what you think. Post your comments below.