Re: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers

Subject: Re: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 06:31:56 -0500

Again I am moved to defend my point of view, and to defend those I respect.

I can't speak for STC meetings in the Valley, but in my poor little Dogpatch
of a world, the Hoosier Chapter, the attendance rate is high and we don't
even have coffee. The members have consistently told the board that what
they want is meetings built like mini-conferences, with lots of
introductions to new tools, technology, and approaches. No dinners, no
chit-chat. Just tech comm'ers who are hungry for what's new. We have
meetings on management, knowledgbases, XML, and SGML. And if the meetings
aren't informative enough, the officers find out about it. We consistently
pull 15-20% attendance.

I'm also inspired to respond on the issue of leadership. It doesn't take a
Martin Luther King to lead. Most leaders are quiet people who do what they
can. I have a great deal of respect for colleagues who sit on boards, offer
feedback to academic programs, mentor young writers, respond to surveys, and
make a commitment to themselves to pursue continuous improvement in
themselves and those around them. These people don't usually get attention,
because they're not generally bombastic and condemnatory.

They respond often and well to questions on this list, for example. I'm sure
that some of them don't post to the list, but to the questioner directly,
knowingly depriving themselves of the chance to be noticed by all of us.
They accept officer positions in small STC chapters. They present at
conferences, with no pay and with great inconvenience. They are willing to
speak at STC meetings, even meetings a thousand miles away. They may even
take on the responsibility for running a list for the benefit of thousands
of practitioners worldwide. I think the world of people who are willing to
pitch in instead of shriek and gibber from the sidelines. They're willing to
try and fail. That by itself is courage, and it's one of the prime
requisites of leadership.

Many teachers in tech comm academic programs fall into this category. They
see the need as we see it...greater professionalism. They're willing to try
what they can to fill in the yawning holes in most writers' knowledge. They
believe that maybe they can shorten the 20-year on-the-job-training plan
that most of us were forced to endure and make a graduate useful faster.
They're not kidding themselves that they're revolutionizing the business.
They're just trying to make their students better faster. In their defense
(and I now work with many academics) they get little cooperation or feedback
from industry. Many academics are highly interested in improvement, but
industry is often unhelpful. It's often hard for them to even attract
industry speakers to classes, in the teeth of industry complaints that the
programs don't include enough "real life" contact!

I suppose deep down I'm a "lighting one candle in the darkness" kind of guy.
Abuse is easy to sling. It's much, much harder to give something quietly. In
my book, that's powerful leadership.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
"Better communication is a service to mankind."
Check our Web site for the upcoming Clustar class info

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