Tag: ISTC

ISTC website

My plan for the early part of next week is to start making updates to content on the ISTC website.

However, like all plans, it’s already had a curveball thrown at it in that the website was built using DreamWeaver a tool I am neither familiar with, nor fond of. Regardless, I’ll muddle through.

It’s an odd thing, taking over something that someone else has worked on for so long and I’m treading carefully at the moment. Thankfully there are several people who’ve said they’ll help out and, as we roll into 2011, I’m hoping the website will be in a much better place, serving both members and new visitors alike.

Looking around at other professional organisation websites, there are many examples and ideas we can look at and take inspiration from, and one key aim will be to allow people to update content quickly and easily and, once that is in place, we can look to integrate some of the community aspects that have been discussed previously (a year ago, how time flies!).

It won’t be a quick job, but I’m setting myself fairly aggressive targets to get the work done. Updated content by the end of the month, and an updated back-end to the website by the end of January.

Do you do PR?

Chattering teeth

I’m writing this whilst it is still fairly fresh (and only addled by a couple, ok ok, three pints of Guinness)…

At the ISTC West of Scotland Area Group meeting last night talk turned to the fairly common topic of “no-one knows what we do”. There was some chat about the value we can bring but, frequently, documentation is still seen as a “tick in the box”, a necessary evil or, even worse, an apathetic acceptance even though no-one else in the company quite knows why we exist other than the fact that we do.

I had made a point earlier about selling ourselves, marketing our services and capabilities and once again it seems obvious that, and I acknowledge that I’m no better than anyone else in this respect, we must do a better job of raising our profiles as professionals within our organisation, and of the profession itself.

Talk of past redundancies confirms this, documentation can easily be seen as an expensive cost, something which, surely, could be cheaper to create or be created by cheaper individuals or perhaps be done away with altogether? After all, no-one reads the documentation and everyone can write, how hard could it be?

But how?

Alas we didn’t get to that during our discussions, but I have a few ideas. For starters, we need to:

  • Identify champions, people within our organisation who understand the value we add to the product, and ask them for help.
  • Confirm our main customers are getting what they need from us (what they really need, not just the tick-the-box documents they’ve always received).
  • Communicate with our areas of the company more regularly so they know what we do

Nothing startlingly original there but one thing we all agreed on last night was that it was very easy to get into ‘head down’ mode, when you come into the office and work hard at to produce documentation, help systems, training guides, whitepapers, instructional videos, and more.

We need to, as a profession and as individuals, try to break out of those habits.

Yes, it’s hard, very hard in some situations, but most companies should be receptive to ideas which help make things better. It may be that your first port of call is to your boss to discuss why it would be a good idea to spend more time talking to the customers of your documentation, or it may be that another department is struggling and would welcome some helpful tips and a bit of direction.

We are professionals, and have much more to offer an organisation than information products alone. It’s just that sometimes we need to remind people of that, including ourselves.

Have you successfully conquered this? Do you indulge in PR and Marketing of your services, or the services of the team you are in? What has worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this one.

Still busy

I know it’s still October (just) but I just wanted to say that I’m looking forward to Christmas this year, largely because it’ll be a holiday.

The sale of the house is complete, debts have been paid off, and all that is left for me is to change the address on my driver’s license, join a gym, and buy a few bookcases and a some bedroom furniture (I have other purchases planned but they’ll be Christmas presents to myself, before the VAT rises).

The past couple of months have been somewhat busy; packing, fretting, phoning, packing, phoning, signing, phoning, fretting, phoning, fretting, phoning, unpacking, unpacking, phoning, fretting, unpacking, phoning, celebrating!, unpacking, buying, paying, phoning, paying, phoning, paying, partying, not to mention working.

November is looking just as busy if not quite for the same reasons; Working, travelling, working, Working, gigging, working, gigging, Working, gigging, Working, working, Working, working. I’m attending three gigs in one week and a wedding in Bristol, I’m making a start on revamping the ISTC website, building a website for someone else, and all the while at Work we are planning ahead to 2011 and all that that entails (plans, spreadsheets, meetings and more plans).

December is a bit calmer but will soon devolve into the usual whirl of nights out, parties, and shopping until it hits Christmas Eve as from then, until the 5th of January, all I’ll have is food, drinks, good company, presents and copious amounts of sleep.

Which, if you ask me, sounds bloody marvellous.

ISTC West of Scotland meetup

The next ISTC technical communicators’ meeting in Glasgow will take place on Monday 8th November 2010, from 7.30 pm onwards. Come along to talk about latest news and trends in communication, or just to meet other communication professionals.

The event is free and open to anyone interested in technical communication, such as technical authors, information architects, internal communication professionals, report writers, marketing writers, web content writers and graphic designers.

Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level.

For more information, contact westscotland_areagroup [at] istc.org.uk.

Life continues

No offer on house. The viewers didn’t get an offer on their property so we are back to square … two, I guess as they are still interested.

Anyway, off to visit the nurse today for a checkup on my blood pressure and to see if the drugs still work (and aren’t destroying my kidneys). I’m thinking my blood pressure might be a teeny tiny ickle bit affected by the whole splitting up/selling house thing…

Still, life goes on. Tonight I’m at an ISTC area group meeting, tomorrow night marks the return of Games Night at work, where we use the big projector and other large screens hooked up to Wiis and XBoxes to, yeah, play games. We also order pizza.

And then on Saturday it’s haircut day, I’ll also be visiting the dental hygienist then off into Glasgow later for food then to watch Scott Pilgrim vs the World! Looking forward to that.

So, life continues.

And, to be honest, aside from the house sale situation, everything is good. We can’t do anything else to make the house sell quicker so no point fretting about that, instead I’m getting out and about more and enjoying every minute.

ISTC West of Scotland – Meetup

The next ISTC West of Scotland area group meeting will take place in Glasgow on Thursday 26th August 2010, from 7.30 pm onwards. Come along to talk about latest news and trends in communication, or just to meet other communication professionals.

The event is free and open to anyone interested in technical communication, such as technical authors, information architects, internal communication professionals, report writers, marketing writers, web content writers and graphic designers.

Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level.

Please forward this message on to your colleagues or anyone else who may be interested.

For more information, email westscotland_areagroup @ istc.org.uk

West of Scotland ISTC meeting

The next ISTC technical communicators’ meeting in Glasgow will take place on Thursday 26th August 2010, from 7.30 pm onwards. Come along to talk about latest news and trends in communication, or just to meet other communication professionals.

The event is free and open to anyone interested in technical communication, such as technical authors, information architects, internal communication prodessionals, report writers, marketing writers, web content writers and graphic designers.

Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level.

Please forward this message on to your colleagues or anyone else who may be interested. For more information, contact westscotland_areagroup[at]istc.org.uk.

Not written, yet

Quite a lot going on at the moment, but don’t worry dear blog reader I’ve not forgotten about you, I’ve still got plenty of things to post here just not really finding the time (or requisite brain power) to focus on them and think them through properly.

Here are some of the things I’ve started to write about but not yet posted.

In other words, “here are the posts languishing in DRAFT”.

  • Content from the ISTC and STC publications, why isn’t it all free?
  • Social Media Models, where I try and outline what I think are the models that we, as technical communicators can get the most value from adopting
  • The evils of presumption
  • Embracing user-generated content
  • Small social media. If your ‘community’ is very small, what will work for you?
  • How to stop thinking about documents

I will hopefully revisit some (all?) of these in the future, but before all that I have an eSeminar to prepare for, more details on that soon.

Upcoming ISTC Events

Organised under the ISTC, we hope you can join us for these events which are complimentary and open to all.

London Group, Adobe Offices, Regent’s Park
Sponsored by Adobe
What: The Potential of using Video in Technical Communication

When: Friday April 30th, 13:30 – 16:30
Followed by Drinks Reception and Finger Buffet hosted by Adobe
Where: Adobe Systems, 12 Park Crescent, Westminster, London W1B 1PH
Who: Everyone’s welcome (there’s no need to be an ISTC member), but places are limited
Cost: FREE

About This Event
Video is beginning to be used more frequently in technical communication. This event offers you the chance to get to grips with the basics, offering a hands-on introductory training session with Adobe Captivate, one of the popular tools available for creating and editing this type of video. We’ll also explore some of the pros and cons of using video in technical communication in a short discussion, and there’ll plenty of opportunities for networking and talking over your ideas with other technical communicators in your area over refreshments.

Matt Wicks is a professional trainer and developer of applications and eLearning within the Flash platform. He is expert in Captivate, and will provide an in-depth training session on the uses of this application for Technical Communicators.

To reserve your place, contact Elaine Cole: istc@istc.org.uk

New! Southern Group, The Brittania pub, Guildford
What: Social/networking meeting

When: Monday March 22nd, 18:30 – 21:00
Where: The Brittania, 9 Millmead, Guildford, GU2 4BE
(5 minute walk from Guildford station public car park outside pub)
Who: Everyone’s welcome (there’s no need to be an ISTC member); if you’re interested in technical communications and you’re in the area, come and meet your peers
Cost: FREE to attend; you’ll need to buy your own refreshments at the bar

About This Event
This is the first meeting of this brand new group, and will offer an opportunity to meet other technical communicators in the area in an informal setting.

Coming up!
The Southern Group is already planning an April event which will include presentations by fellow professionals. Watch out for more details in the ISTC’s InfoPlus+ newsletter.

To attend the March event or to register your interest in the April event, contact Elaine Cole: istc@istc.org.uk

Cambridge Group, CB2 Bistro, Cambridge
What: Social/networking meeting

When: Thursday March 25th, 19:00 – 21:30
Where: CB2 Bistro, Norfolk Street, Cambridge
Who: Everyone’s welcome (there’s no need to be an ISTC member); if you’re interested in technical communications and you’re in the area, come and meet your peers
Cost: FREE to attend; you’ll need to buy your own refreshments at the bar

About This Event
This is an opportunity for anyone interested in technical communication to get together with like-minded people in an informal setting, over drinks and/or dinner (some attendees will be ordering a meal, but it’s not obligatory).

To attend this event or register your interest in future Cambridge events, email Richard Truscott and Jeff Bronks: cambridge_areagroup@istc.org.uk

ISTC Newsletter

Time flies, particularly when a deadline looms and so it was last night when, due to this silly, short, month (which has flown by) I had to rattle out my monthly column to go in the ISTC Newsletter, InfoPlus+, toute de suite.

I mentioned this on Twitter and was promptly asked where it was published. I’ve mentioned the newsletter in passing here but realise that I’ve covered it in any more detail.

First things first, you don’t have to be a member to receive the newsletter, anyone can sign up and anyone can view the archives.

Having checked back I actually started my contributions to the newsletter in April 2008, almost two years ago, which took me by surprise. Since then I’ve been monitoring a large number of related blogs, and offering my take on the best posts from that month. I actually started doing that here but the newsletter took the focus.

The newsletter is fun, and offers me a chance to look back at some posts I’ve read but perhaps not fully digested properly and it feels good to be spreading the word about the great content that is available. There are a lot of smart people out there, and it’s good to get a chance to direct some traffic their way.