Re: STC Transformation -- info

Subject: Re: STC Transformation -- info
From: <ccbranham -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 10:19:16 -0700

I think the level of abuse directed at the STC on this list is (always) a
little out of proportion, but that's the STC's fault for being the only game
in town. :-) As far as professional societies go, it really isn't that bad.
_Technical Communication_ is a good journal and _Intercom_ is as good as
most society magazines. I have actually read it from time to time, and it's
always fun to see a column by or article about someone I recognize from this

I dropped my STC membership this year, though, because I just wasn't getting
enough value from it, at least not enough to justify the cost. In order to
get value from the STC, you really have to attend every local meeting, get
to know people, and build up a kind of rapport with people in your chapter.
But I found that with the local meetings at $20 a pop, I was performing a
mental calculation every month. On the one hand, I could get a 1-hour
presentation, such as "An Agonizing Assessment of the Value of Technical
Communication, Part 5" or "New Horizons in Careerism" (or even ones closer
to my immediate professional interests). On the other hand, I could go to
the bookstore and take home an exciting, 300-page book on a hot topic and an
oversized oatmeal cookie. When I think about it in those terms, the book and
cookie will win more often than not. So I found that there were too many
local barriers to entry. And once you lose the habit of attending an event
every month, it's really hard to get back into it.

A few ideas that might spice up the STC, for me at least, might be:

- Free local chapter e-mail discussion lists that you can join if you want
to get to know TWs in your city or in other cities that interest you.
Techwr-L doesn't/can't deal with local issues, and does not very often help
you get to know the TWs in your area. A chapter list might help inspire more
interest among people like me who can't/won't attend every f-2-f meeting.

- Regular live and archived streaming Web training or symposium events via
WebEx. Perhaps even some of the better of the chapter presentations could be
captured and archived for the national membership.

- A suite of technical research databases that I can't get at my local
library or through my company.

- A database of book reviews, or conference and journal abstracts.

- More bookclubs like the Ideawatch SIG (, which was
by far the most useful part of the STC for me--and it was actually free).

- Make all these relatively inexpensive resources available on demand and
make them free to members of the national organization.

In any case, I don't think it's going to work to try to add value by
cranking out larger quantities of, or providing better access to, the same
traditional services that don't seem to be working for the STC now.

Craig B.


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