Presented by Neil Perlin
Once upon a time, technical communication was a simple environment. The subjects of our writing were complex and changeable but the skill sets we needed were straightforward – understand complex new topics and be able to describe them clearly. If you could type, that was a bonus.
That was then. Today, the new technologies and methodologies coming at us – Information 4.0, mobile, IoT, AR, structured authoring, topic-based authoring, micro-content, geo-location, responsive design, and others – sound like they’re out of a programmer’s job description, not a technical communicator’s. And in fact, many of them do come out of the internet.
Which of these will be important for technical communicators? Hard to say. Predicting the future is like predicting the weather. But we do know that these new technologies and methodologies are out there and will affect us, just as, to everyone’s surprise, HTML did in 1997. So how do we prepare? That’s the subject of this presentation.
We’ll look at a few of the cooler new technologies in detail, then look at how they’re like to affect both the skill set AND the mindset of technical communicators in the next decade.
Neil Perlin entered technical communication in 1979, when he could type seven words a minute. After a slow start documenting accounting software, he moved rapidly into future mode.
During his journey from the 1980’s to now, he:
- Found the first hypertext authoring system in 1987 and used it to build the world’s second and third commercial hypertext products – online guides to MS-DOS 2.1 and Lotus 1-2-3 in 1988.
- Began working with Microsoft Windows Help in 1990.
- Experimented with HTML in 1991.
- Transitioned to HTML-based and browser-based help in 1997.
- Learned DITA in 2003.
- Served on an OASIS board and represented the STC to the W3C for four years in the 2000s.
- Became an app developer in 2011.
- And more…
Basically, his mistakes became more esoteric throughout this evolution, and he’s had a lot of fun making them and learning from them.
(Listed alphabetically by title)
Adding Value as a Technical Communicator
Presented by Ed Marsh
Technical communicators frequently have to prove their value. This session will illustrate several ways to add value outside of the standard writing role, including social media, metrics collection and analysis, why design matters, and more.
Ed Marsh has been a technical communicator since 1994, and is currently an information architect at Goldman Sachs in Jersey City, NJ. Ed is a senior member of the STC, active in the NYC Metro chapter. Four years ago, he created the Content Content podcast, featuring interviews with technical communicators, content strategists, and other content professionals. He also created http://contentcontent.info, a news aggregator for technical communicators.
Analytics Can Change Your World
Presented by David Payne
With an ever-present need to prove value to the organization, I found myself struggling to get the data I needed to put together an argument based on fact, rather than anecdotes. In this session, I’ll take the anecdote of my situation and show how analytics enabled my team to pull forward, get executive buy-in, enable process change and succeed. Over the course of the session, I’ll delve into some of the questions you might be asked and propose where you’ll find some answers.
- What are some of the metrics you might want to find?
- What are your baselines?
- What happens if the data doesn’t tell you what you expected?
As manager of the User Assistance team within SumTotal Systems (a Skillsoft company), David Payne approaches each day with the goal of helping the users of his company’s applications. Excited to work with new analytics for the content his team produces, he is eager to develop the next big solution and have the data to support its purpose. David has presented at Write-the-Docs Cincinnati and at Interchange 2018.
Back Then. Here and Now. Around the Corner. Sharing the Content Lifecycle.
Presented by Bernard Aschwanden
Can we take what we’ve done in the past and use it to move to the future? Sure! Microsoft Office uses XML behind the scenes. How do you move from unstructured to structured content AND make what you create as accessible to others as possible? In this session Bernard explores a bit of what we’ve done in the past (write unstructured content) and explores how to think about re-working that information. We’ll take a Word file, perform quick analysis in Excel, rework the content, then migrate it to structured DITA content. Once it’s converted we’ll upload it to the cloud and showcase edits, reviews, and publish to multiple channels. See and participate in the workflow taking ideas of the past and applying them to content for the future.
Bernard solves documentation-based problems and helps companies generate more revenue. He guides clients through the best processes to create, manage, and deliver content. Once content is delivered, he helps socialize the message, understand and act on feedback, and improve the process and workflow. He is the founder of Publishing Smarter, an Associate Fellow of STC, and a Past President of STC. Bernard has helped hundreds of companies implement successful solutions. He is focused on publishing better, publishing faster, and publishing smarter.
Blockchain: The Challenges of Communicating Disruptive Technology
Presented by Aiessa Moyna
Blockchain is a disruptive technology that holds a lot of promise in the business world and is getting a lot of press. Most technical communicators have heard of it, but many don’t really understand what it is, how it works and how to communicate about it to potential investors, decision-makers and customers. This session will cover a brief history of blockchain technology, including how it works, the advantages it offers over more traditional technology platforms, plus its potential applications in the business world. It also will address the communication challenges blockchain presents even for experienced professionals, as well as some strategies for communicating about it effectively.
A veteran technical communicator and long-time STC volunteer, Aiessa Moyna has served in a number of technical communication, corporate communications and public affairs roles in a variety of corporate, nonprofit and government settings. She currently works as a communications director at American Express, leading strategic communications for the CIO and the Technology division. A former Society treasurer and member of the board of directors, she currently serves as chair of the STC Associate Fellows Committee, is a track manager for the 2019 Technical Communication Summit & Expo, and serves as Elections Committee chair for the STC New York Metro Chapter.
Developing Workflow-Based Help
Presented by Cindy Pao
Often, our online help is organized by user interface elements, menu commands, tasks, and reference information. In this presentation, we will look at a different way of organizing the information by workflow. The finished help includes not only the classic elements, but also shows the user how they will put the software or hardware to work in the field.
Cindy Pao is a senior technical writer, developing user documentation for complex oilfield software. She has been a technical communicator for over 20 years. Cindy’s involvement in STC includes Director-at-Large on the STC Board; Chair, vice chair, and member of multiple committees; President, Co-Manager, and member of several communities. Cindy has presented at conferences, program meetings, workshops, and webinars nine times, including “New Leader Table: The Basics of Running a Community” at the 2017 Leadership Program, “Using a Customer Response System in Writing and Updating User Documentation” at the 2006 STC conference, and “Creating a WinHelp Project” workshop in 2001.
A Guide to Designing and Launching Amazing Learning Experiences
Presented by Linda Daniels and Nick Floro
The problem as we see it, is there is a ton of uninspired “learning” content out there that if it only had a little attention, a little love, learning experiences could be so much more meaningful and USEFUL. In other words, learning can be made to be not only ‘sticky’ and engaging, but also fun… regardless of technology.
So where do we start when we want to show the design and development process to create amazing learning experiences? Well at the beginning of course, at the VERY beginning. Nick and I did not make this stuff up, the tenets of good design have been around for a very long time, people just keep forgetting to use them.
And we are here to remind you and show you how.
Linda Daniels has 20+ years experience in innovative product, experience design and technology. Recognized for business organizational and process insights with emphasis on human-centered design to bring concepts to reality and create amazing experiences for world-wide brands. Linda has won multiple awards and presented on diverse topics including agile methodologies, design thinking, empathy, and user experience to help inspire others to embrace life-long learning in the ever changing world in which people live, work and play.
Nick Floro has over 25 years of experience developing e-Learning solutions, applications and web platforms. As a learning architect designing amazing experiences for audiences, he has worked with hundreds of start-ups, organizations, and Fortune 500 companies to help them understand the technology and develop innovative solutions to help their teams and customer base. Nick has won several awards from Apple and Fortune 500 organizations for productions and services. Nick is passionate about how design and technology can enhance learning and loves to share his knowledge and experience to teach, inspire and motivate. Nick is a founder and president of Sealworks Interactive Studios.
How to Make the Magic Happen in Your Deliverables: A Demonstration of XML’s Impact on Your Content Delivery Processes
(Sponsored talk by Vasont Systems)
Presented by Deb Bissantz
If MS Word is your content creation platform, you likely spend a lot of time emailing files for review, hunting for the correct version of your files, and compiling changes to content that are submitted by reviewers. And, you probably spend even more time transforming and styling content to other formats for multichannel delivery to your customers. Yet, you want to publish your content to cool websites and keep them updated regularly. Join this session to see a demonstration of how structured authoring using XML and a Component Content Management System can make the magic happen and relieve hours, days, or even weeks of time from your content delivery processes.
Deb Bissantz is an applications engineer for Vasont Systems. Before joining Vasont Systems, Deb worked with and authored DITA content for many years. As a writer and tools administrator, she helped several organizations migrate technical documentation to DITA and to component content management systems. Deb is also a voting member of the DITA Technical Committee. She co-authored the DITA 1.2 Feature Article: “Roles and Responsibilities of a DITA Adoption.”
Improve Your Publications and Career Prospects With Technical Editing Skills
Presented by Brett Peruzzi
Dedicated editors in technical publications groups are becoming increasingly rare, particularly in smaller organizations. Increasingly, the role is being performed by the writers themselves, in the form of self and peer editing. This session will provide you with an overview of the technical editing process, and how you can perform this role successfully, even when it’s not your primary job responsibility.
Brett Peruzzi has worked in the technical communication field for over 30 years as a technical writer, editor, documentation manager, and independent consultant. Brett previously taught technical editing in Northeastern University’s master’s level technical writing program, from which he also graduated. His favorite side gig so far was serving for nine years as the editor in chief of a regional trade/consumer newspaper covering New England’s craft brewing industry.
The Interplay of UX and Technical Communication
Presented by Deborah Sauer and Sam Park
User experience includes every interaction people have with a company and its products…from opening the box to setting up and using the product. When it comes to using an app to interact with a product, the visual and written content on the screens must work together seamlessly to deliver a simple and delightful experience.
In this presentation, we’ll learn how the partnership of technical communication and user interaction, from the early phases of development through product release, improves the user experience. We’ll hear two perspectives from those in the trenches: a technical writer and an interaction designer at Sonos, creators of the leading whole-home sound system. They’ll share how they’ve successfully collaborated on content in apps to create a better user experience.
Deborah Sauer is a Principal Technical Writer in the Instructional Content Design Group/User Experience at Sonos, Inc., creators of the leading whole-home sound system. She is responsible for an assortment of content, including app screens, online guides, and online Help. Her days are filled with collaborating with user experience designers and developers, refining user interface text, pushing authoring tools to their limits, tinkering in code, managing projects, and, most importantly, making sure the experience comes first.
Sam Park is a Senior User Experience Designer in the UX team at Sonos, Inc. She is currently responsible for designing an easy and consistent voice control experience on Sonos. Her day-to-day work revolves around solving the challenges of voice control on multiple speakers and multiple streams while balancing the partner experience and collaborating with fellow UX designers, instruction content designers, developers, project managers, researchers, and representatives from the partners. Sam has a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design. In her role as a graphic designer at various companies, her focus included both print and mobile/web design. When she joined Sonos, she started as a user interface designer, giving holistic visual treatments of the Sonos app through illustrations, icons, and layouts. She has found her calling as a user experience designer, using her visual skills to impact the bigger picture of the Sonos experience.
Negotiation Skills: The Missing Ingredient to Content Career Success
Presented by Jack Molisani
Content Audits and Chat Bots and IoT, oh my!
Content Strategy has always been a field in which we plan for output channels that don’t even exist, but it seems like our authoring tools and technology are evolving faster the than technology we are writing about.
In this session I’m not going to talk about the latest tools and technology you need to learn to stay competitive. Instead, I’ll share what I see is holding most content strategist back from quantum leaps in career development: soft skills like conflict resolution skills, workplace negotiation skills, and more.
This fun and interactive session is guaranteed to increase your “promotabilty” and advance your content career!
Returning speaker Jack Molisani is the president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals: He’s the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list. Jack also produces the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Technical Communication Management, to be held in Portland, Oregon this October.
#PowerOfStory – The Cultural Program That Got Me Clicks
Presented by Viqui Dill
My current job is to do internal communications within my company for IT. It’s my job to help four thousand employees make friends with our programs, especially the much avoided Microsoft Office 365 suite of products. This presentation will explain how I was able to leverage our corporate #PowerOfStory program to engage employees online and help them get over the fear of change to be able to use the tools for content management and communication.
As IT Technical Communications Leader for American Woodmark in Winchester, VA, Viqui is passionate about continued education and lifelong learning for those in our field. Sharing the tips and tricks she has gathered in her 25 years as a writer, she is actively promoting networking with other writers to help us all learn and stay connected.
Viqui Dill describes herself as “Technical writer, wife and mom, bass player, worship leader, I’m happiest when folks sing along with me.”
Proactive Listening: How to Cut Through the Noise
Presented by Gary Sternberg
Failure to adequately listen can not only cause miscommunication and misunderstanding, it can result in missed opportunities. With so much “noise” going on nowadays, it’s important be be able to cut through the clutter to find out what people are really trying to say. Being able to listen better can improve both your career and personal relationships. Various tips will be offered and exercises conducted to help attendees improve their listening skills.
Gary Sternberg is the Publications Coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General, working out of the Philadelphia office. Gary has also worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Gary started out his career as a newspaper reporter, for which his ability to listen well was a critical skill. Gary has presented at previous STC PMC conferences, as well as at STC international conferences. Gary is a graduate of Temple University.
Virtual Reality: Immersive Experiences with Real-World Applications
Presented by Jill Knight
Virtual Reality is the cutting edge of gaming entertainment, with emerging technology that immerses players in new worlds like nothing we’ve seen before. But VR is increasingly being used for real-world applications in a wide variety of industries, not just for games. In this session, we’ll look at how VR enables us to create training and educational experiences that are engaging, impactful, and address the challenges of employee training in innovative ways. From concept to implementation, we’ll talk about the development of virtual reality experiences, including multi-disciplinary team roles, needs assessment, planning, graphic and textual content development, and deployment. We’ll also explore how the platforms of virtual reality and augmented reality have created a paradigm shift in designing user experiences, and the interesting challenges presented by these new technologies. You’ll also have the chance to try out virtual reality for yourself!
Jill Knight is a 3D artist and experience designer working at Deloitte Digital in New Jersey. She studied Interactive Media & Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where her love of good design, visual storytelling, and all things 3D was born. At Deloitte Digital, she enjoys the challenge that every day brings in designing for new and emerging technologies, especially virtual reality. Her work spans from serious games, 3D simulations and immersive learning, to augmented and virtual reality experiences that are transformative and impactful.
Virtual Team Success
Presented by Todd deLuca
The ubiquity of the internet has significantly changed the definition and makeup of workplace teams. Do you use email, instant messaging, online meetings, or discussion boards to collaborate or communicate with coworkers? Then congratulations, you’re part of a virtual team!
But how would you rate your virtual team experiences? Probably not very high. The dynamics of these teams are different and the methodologies that many organizations use today don’t meet the needs of a distributed, diverse, and international workforce. But there are ways to improve the situation, so join us in this session to learn what others are doing and share your own experiences and suggestions. The speaker has been a virtual worker and manager for over 8 years and understands virtual team issues and opportunities. He will present various challenges and offer solutions to change the experience from frustrating to positive. Todd will also guide a frank group discussion, so come with ideas on how to be a member of a more effective group.
The old rules don’t apply to virtual teams, so join us to learn new rules (and which to break). You and your teammates will be glad you did!
Todd deLuca (aka TechCommTodd) is a remote-based technical writer and manager in the Philadelphia, PA area with over 15 years of experience and a passion for continuous professional development. He is an active speaker and volunteer who often says ‘Yes’ to opportunities to learn, advance, and connect with others. His background includes writing, editing, content management, internal and client communications, and software development documentation. An active contributor to the profession, Todd is a Society for Technical Communication (STC) Associate Fellow, Director, and volunteer leader. Other STC roles have included Intercom magazine contributor, Summit Conference Chair, and Philadelphia Metro Chapter president.
Will AI Change Tech Comm?
Presented by Nicky Bleiel
Artificial intelligence systems can take technical content and deliver it in potentially unlimited ways, but will it change the way we write content? In this presentation, we will consider how artificial intelligence works, how AI systems are trained, and what AI systems can learn from content. We’ll also discuss AI-based chatbots, how chatbots can supplement traditional content deliverables, and if we need to fundamentally change the way we provide content to feed AI systems.
Nicky Bleiel is a Watson Information Developer at IBM. She is a Past President and Assoc. Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and currently serves as the Co-chair of the 2019 STC Summit in Denver, CO. Nicky has over 20 years of experience writing and designing content for software products in a variety of industries. See NickyBleiel.com for her talks and publications.
Working and Writing Across the Generations
Presented by Steve Jong
The days of thinking of your audience, or your coworkers, as anything like you are over. Today the two largest generations in history coexist in the market and the workforce—sometimes uneasily—across a wide divide of experiences, outlooks, and expectations, with a third generation squeezed in the middle. How do these generations differ as audiences, colleagues, and leaders? How do you write for, team with, and report to people with such distinctly different experiences, skills, and values? This presentation will increase your understanding of generational theory, the shared experiences of each generation, and typical personas. Steve will offer specific, practical, and constructive advice based on research, surveys, and experience. No matter your generation, you will come away with valuable information.
Steve Jong is current President of STC New England, is a Fellow, past Director, and past chairman of the first Certification Commission. He holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Boston University. Steve lives in Massachusetts.