A Conference Report: Not too long

Subject: A Conference Report: Not too long
From: Nancy Hoft - CONTRACTOR HRIS <nhoft -at- SDDLIB -dot- EAST -dot- SUN -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 1994 14:30:30 GMT

Well, I did attend the STC conference. There are 4 sections to this post.

1) A brief summary of a workshop I presented, "Basic International Technical
2) A brief summary of the International Technical Communication PIC meeting.
3) A brief summary of the panel on Software Internationalization.
4) Comments on a presentation by our Japanese attendees on obtaining quality in
Japanese manuals.

1. My workshop.

I was a speaker. My workshop was called "Basic International Technical
Communication." I had four objectives, not necessarily in this order:

1) Identifying cultural bias in technical writing.
2) Designing a page with translation and the international user in mind.
3) Performing an international user analysis.
4) Creating a glossary for translators.

If you are interested in learning more, send email to

itech -at- mv -dot- mv -dot- com

with SPECIFIC questions. Please don't ask a general and broad question;
I won't have the time to answer it.

2. International Technical COmmunication Professional Interest Committee (ITC

I managed a meeting for the STC International Technical Communication PIC. I am
the current manager for the group. Our focus this year is on:

- Publishing our newsletter 4 times a year; having themes for each issue of the

- Organizing a full day pre-conference STC conference (next year in
Washington, D.C) for anyone interested in international technical communication.

- Assigning liasons to organizations other than STC that are involved in
international technical communication. Liasons are people who keep ITC PIC
members up-to-date on events organized by other organizations, research
sponsored by other organizations, and articles published by other organizations.
Liasons publish these summaries in the ITC PIC newsletter.

- Getting volunteers to help on all of these projects and others certain
to come!

I you are interested in learning more about the ITC PIC, send email to me at

itech -at- mv -dot- mv -dot- com

3. Software Internationalization Panel

There were 5 speakers for this panel. The panel focused less on software
internationalization and more on what we can do as technical communicators
to improve translatability, minimize cost, and work with translators more
effectively. Another speaker provided information on how her company
handles internationalization projects for technical communication.

Some things of interest:

- Get rid of all the stuff people don't read in a manual before you have it
translated. A gentleman from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands gave
an example of a project he did for Canon. He reduced a several volume set
of manuals for a printer to less than 100 pp. This saved the company lots
of money. He summaried this effort by showing a cartoon in German that,
translated, said, "I need a manual to understand how to use the manual."

- Be consistent in your use of terminology. If you use "display" as a noun,
ONLY use it as a noun throughout your manual. This consistency helps with

4. Quality in Japanese manuals

There were 4 presenters for this, as I recall. Unfortunately, I had to leave
early, so I only heard one of the speakers.

What was so fascinating about this presentation was the meticulous and truly
complex process this particular QA group (I think it was for Fujitsu) went
through to identify and follow through on all customer complaints. They went
to amazing lengths to improve their manuals, based on the customer
surveys/complaints. There were several layers of "groups" within Fujitsu
that these "complaints" went through. I imagined a like process happening
here in the U.S. While we have many processes in place that try and work like
the one described by this speaker, we often fail at having them work at all
or at least with the same degree of success as that described by the speaker.
I suppose it's because in Japan they are so team oriented and here in the U.S.
we are very individual oriented.

Hope this short summary is helpful or of interest to some of you!

Nancy Hoft
RR2 Box 493 Moran Road
Temple, NH 03084-9761 USA

internet: itech -at- mv -dot- mv -dot- com
CompuServe: 71614,1574

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