Subject: Re:memberships
From: "Karen L. Zorn" <klzorn -at- zorntech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 14:51:50 -0700

> On the whole, then, this sampling supports the notion that the STC isn't
> very technically oriented. But, although, like Andrew, I have many
> reasons for disliking the STC, let's not be hasty. Can anyone else on
> the list take 20 minutes to make similar lists about their area so we
> can see if the contention that the STC is generally true?

Caveat: I'm getting suckered into defending STC in *another* anti-STC
discussion. (I should know better.)

Stated on
"Our Mission...
Designing the future of technical communication

STC is an individual membership organization dedicated to advancing the arts
and sciences of technical communication. It is the largest organization of
its type in the world. Its 25,000 members include technical writers and
editors, content developers, documentation specialists, technical
illustrators, instructional designers, academics, information architects,
usability and human factors professionals, visual designers, Web designers
and developers, and translators - anyone whose work makes technical
information available to those who need it. "

In some ways, you could compare STC to the American Medical Association
(AMA): thousands of technical communicators in all fields of practice;
thousands of physicians in all fields of practice. There is no way that any
one organization can possibly address all the needs of the members of their
organizations. That is why there are specialized organizations that function
in some ways as subsets of the generalized organization.

The STC-Phoenix chapter ( has members from aerospace,
computer software and hardware development, medical, chip manufacturers,
manufacturing hardware, home hardware (ToolTime), electronics, finance,
retailing, education, government, utilities, etc. Our chapter membership,
275 at last count, represents all the above mentioned areas and many more.
Some members write about technology, many others do not. Some members write
policy and procedures, many other do not. There is no way that our chapter
could provide technical (defined in reference to computing) training or
seminars that would interest all or even a small majority of our membership.
Many of our members are also members of other specific organizations such as
IEEE, Usability, and Medical to name a few. What our chapter strives to
provide is information that is of use to our membership on the varying
aspects of communication.

For example, our monthly chapter meeting presentations this year have been:
* The Future of Technical Communication, Ed See, STC International President
* Becoming Indispensable, How to Provide Value to Your Organization, Brenda
* Magazine Writing Tips, Kim Rosenlof
* Developing Usable, Useful Web Sites, Sanjay Koyani
* Estimating Your Tech Comm Project, Sherry Michaels
* Outsourcing Documentation: Benefits and Pitfalls, Steven Miley

Two seminars were scheduled this year (you still have time to sign up for
the latter):
* October 2002: Word Styles, $10 students, $25 members, $75 non-members
every seat sold
* April 2003: So You Want to Design e-Learning, Jane Smith, $25 members, $75

Every year we poll our membership asking about what they are doing, what
areas they are working in, and what they would like from the chapter. See

intercom, the monthly publication from STC International, contains articles
that are of interest to many, not all, technical communicators. The April
issue contains articles that are categorized into:
* Writing & Editing
- SOPs and the Technical Writer
- Editing Tests for Writers
- Serving the Electronic Reader

* Your Career
- Adjusting to Changing Times in Technical Communication

* Usability
- Improving Your Reader's Comment Forms

* Teaching & Training
- Word Processing Style Sheets in the Classroom

* Management
- Avoiding Developer's Anguish
- Communication in International Virtual Offices

* For Students
- Earning a College Degree Online

Hmm, a lot of these topics sound familiar, have we discussed them in this
forum? You bet!

STC is a *generalized* organization for a broad base of technical
communicators who practice in many varied fields. I do not expect, nor even
ask of, STC to provide specific training, seminars, whatever on specialized
topics. If I want training on C++, radiography, chip design and manufacture,
security, SQL, to name a few, I would look to another source, just as I do
not depend on my family physician for the specialized care I need for a
chronic illness, I go to a specialist.

Do I support STC, yes. Why? My local chapter has provided me with the
opportunity to meet others in my profession, no matter what version of it
they practice. It has provided job leads. It has provided contacts to people
who have similar interests other than writing. It has provided challenges
and personal growth opportunities. It has provided face-to-face contact with
other writers, invaluable to a lone writer.

If you don't like what STC has to offer, go elsewhere. If you are interested
in an organization that is supportive of technical communicators, is
striving to change with the times, and is interested in developing
*technical communication* skills, then investigate it. It is not for
everyone, neither is the AMA.

Karen L. Zorn
Zorn Technologies, Inc.
Mesa, AZ

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