Read STC Intercom. The most recent issue of Intercom offers a glimpse into the future of technical communication. The editor, Andrea Ames, reminds us, “the only constant thing is change”. This issue provides you with food for thought along with many different dimensions—deliverables, experience design approaches, messages and connections with our human users, and ways that our content can change the world. STC members receive free online access to the award-winning Intercom with membership, and the articles are full of practical examples and applications of technical communication to promote your professional development.
- Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, provides an in-depth perspective on personalizing technical documentation experiences. Sound like old hat? Perhaps we’ve heard the message before, but the prevalence (or lack thereof) of truly personalized technical content experiences validates this as thinking outside the box.
- Jennifer Goode, a Technical Communication Instructor at Mercer University, asks “How might podcasts change the landscape of technical communication?” And she makes the case for considering podcasting for technical content—or re-considering it, if you previously dismissed audio documentation, as I did. If you jumped out of the box and explored (with curiosity) the idea of audio-only content, how could you use it to support your users and benefit your company?
- Kathleen Franks describes the key skills, approaches, and techniques of technical communication—in particular storytelling and relating to the humanity of the people served—that can help nonprofit organizations to get donors interested and keep them informed and donating. Have you recently—or ever—leveraged storytelling to connect more with your users to help them and your company to succeed?
- Gaya Gamhewage, Richelle George, and Heini Utunen of the World Health Organization discuss risk communication, in particular for influenza events, making a key point that is becoming more and more relevant and important for all kinds of technical, scientific, and specialized information. That is, that our communication does not exist in a vacuum; we must understand all types of contexts, including social and cultural, to ensure our messages “land.” While this is not an uncommon concept, it is far too infrequently considered when we design our content, and thus it is squarely outside of the box for too many of us and our teams.
- In “Editing Matters,” Michelle Corbin thinks outside the box and asserts that content is a type of user interface.
- Cindy Currie and Kit Brown-Hoekstra in “Ask a Manager” provide managers’ perspectives on preparing for the future in technical communication, and they provide advice on dealing with bullying in the workplace
- In “The Academic Conversation,” Thomas Barker describes the academic style in writing and compares it with technical communication, introducing us to the concept of register and explaining the tech comm register.