Congratulations to the winner of the Information Development World All-Access Pass!

"May the odds be ever in your favor!"  It looks like they were for Ed Marsh!

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”
It looks like they were for Ed Marsh!

Remember the little contest I ran recently to win a chance at a free All-Access Pass to Information Development World 2015? I didn’t forget! A random drawing (not by me, to make it fair) was done of the tweets submitted for the free all-access pass to Information Development World 2015 in San Jose, California.

Our winner is…Ed Marsh of ContentContent!

Ed was notified last week about winning the pass and the opportunity to attend.  When informed of his win, he had this to say about it:

Ed Marsh of Content Content  Photo by Corporate Executive Portraits Commercial Photography NYC NJ New Jersey's premier Executive Portraits and Corporate Photography Studio serving Bergen, Passaic, and Morris counties in NJ and Rockland, Bronx & Orange counties NY.

Ed Marsh of ContentContent
Photo by Corporate Executive Portraits

“All I had to do to win a free conference admission was send a tweet? I do that for free! I didn’t realize until recently how important conferences are to my career, so I’m excited to see different perspectives on content at Information Development World.

After narrowing down to three great choices, I finally decided to go with Lisa Welchman’s ‘Understanding digital governance’ [for my workshop day], because it’s probably the biggest issue we’re dealing with now.

I’m most looking forward to meeting new people, for sure. And I have to say that I plan to attend a variety of topics, not just one particular track, to get the most from my experience.

Having been on Ed’s ContentContent podcast, I know him well enough to know that even as an attendee, he will contribute a lot to conversations at the event.  I know he’s excited about going, and he’s going to have a blast.

If you are going, make sure to say hi to him and congratulations at the event! Congrats, again, Ed, for the win! The odds were ever in your favor, evidently!

There is still time to register to attend this great event–sign up now!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tony Fadell: What will Google’s $3.2bn guru do next? – BBC News

Will the designer in charge of Google Glass and Nest’s “thoughtful home” kit end up eclipsing his former workmate Jony Ive?

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bbc.com

This is a really interesting article about the guy that Google has employed to help with a lot of their big gadget-related products. I think he’s got some great insights, based on this article and video interview, and it will be interesting how he takes these projects to the next level. I agree that wearables are still in their infancy, so as the guy who essentially helped to bring some of my favorite mobile devices to life, it’ll be interesting to see where he takes Google Glass as well as some of those other IoT items out there. 

–techcommgeekmom

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Music and Content Marketing, It’s All About Creativity: An Interview with Jon Wuebben | The Content Wrangler

Sourced through Scoop.it from: thecontentwrangler.com

I had a great opportunity to interview Jon Wuebben of Content Launch on behalf of The Content Wrangler. I’m excited to see this interview is up now! Jon and I had a great conversation. Jon’s got some great insights about content marketing…and music! Take a look!

–techcommgeekmom

 

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lowering the bar

I recently saw a job posting in which the first line under “Responsibilities” went like this: ….deliver [content] that engages audiences, and that is virtually free of spelling, grammar, and form…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: larrykunz.wordpress.com

Larry Kunz has written a compelling article about job responsibilities as a technical communicator, and there’s an interesting discussion going on in the comments. I encourage you to check it out and include your own comments. Is Larry asking too much in his observation? 

–techcommgeekmom

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Rodale Inc. Evolved Its Content Strategy to Become the World’s Largest Health and Wellness Media Company

Discover Rodale Inc.’s five steps to content success and learn how it can help you improve your own strategy – Content Marketing Institute.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: contentmarketinginstitute.com

The Content Marketing Institute has posted a REALLY good article on content marketing and content selling here. I like how the author framed Rodale as a prime example of how to do it right. As a Rodale subscriber myself, I could immediately understand the tactics used and how they were used on me! In the end, it’s not about selling tricks, but rather concentrating on audience needs and selling to those needs. 

 

A true must-read article both for content strategists and digital marketers. 

–techcommgeekmom

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Create a Content Strategy Plan – Elcom Mobile Site – Elcom Mobile Site

Sourced through Scoop.it from: m.elcomcms.com

Not sure if I’ve posted this before. Good info. Thanks to Kerry Butters for curating this and posting on Twitter. –techcommgeekmom

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Oh, the Academian and the Practitioner should be friends…Engaging TechComm Professionals

The farmer and the cowman--I mean, the academian and the practitioner should be friends...

The farmer and the cowman–I mean, the academian and the practitioner should be friends…

I attended the IEEE ProComm at the University of Limerick, in Limerick, Ireland last week. I was absolutely gobsmacked months ago when a presentation proposal I sent in for this conference was actually accepted. I figured, why not? I’m always looking to expand my tech comm circle, so I had hoped that this would help in this endeavour. I made some great new connections, and I was glad for that, and I certainly enjoyed the sessions I attended.

One thing that was very different about this conference, unlike the other tech comm conferences I’ve attended thusfar, was that this particular conference focused more on the academic side of tech comm. I found out, through inquiry, that while all were invited to this conference, there was definitely a very strong bent toward academia. There is nothing wrong with that, but the depth of this academic frame of mind is not something I’ve dealt with since I graduated from NJIT three years ago.  I understand that academia has its own rules and ways of doing things, but it was definitely…different. Not in a bad way, but different.

Up until this point, I had attended what I’ll call “practitioner” conferences. I’ve chose the word “practitioner” rather than “professional” because in the end, we’re all professionals at what we do in the technical communications, whether we teach and do research, or are out in the corporate world making things happen. Thus those out there in the corporate world I’m choosing to call practitioners. Some practitioners do teach, and some academians do corporate work, but they don’t always overlap. I wanted to clarify this before I move on with my narrative here…

Anyway, as I started to say, up until this point, I had attended conferences that had a stronger practitioner’s bent to them. Most speakers would be people who had been out there battling it out in the corporate masses, and sharing their experiences and knowledge attained from those experiences with others. I often attribute the fact that I got my last job with BASF because of information that learned through one of these practitioner events, because it was something that the company could use beyond analytical theories. Speakers at these practitioner conferences are those who are in the trenches every day, putting to practice all those theories about content strategy, revising them, applying them to businesses globally.

So, attending a mostly academic conference like the IEEE ProComm was a bit eye-opening. Many of the talks were summaries of research that had been done on a variety of topics, and peer reviewed, which was all well and good. I found that the sessions that I could connect best to were the ones that were given by practitioners, practitioners who were also academians, or academians who had a foothold as consultants outside of the academy. There were plenty of sessions whose topics were relevant to the corporate world, but they failed to deliver completely on something new or to provide any revelations to me. There were also summary sessions that provided research conclusions which were incorrect or inaccurate from practitioner perspectives, or elicited the feeling of “…and why are you researching this topic again, and what is its relevency?”

I spent a good part of my time networking with people who happened to be practitioners studying for advanced degrees or had an advanced degree. I particularly connected with one woman who happened to come out of the same NJIT program that I did. (We weren’t classmates, as she started the semester after I graduated, but we knew or had many of the same professors.) She’s been a practitioner much longer than I have, and as she had recently graduated from the NJIT program. NJIT people rarely attend these conferences, so if we do find each other, we tend to flock together a bit. She and I spent a lot of time comparing notes from our experiences and concerns that we had not only about our own program, but other programs as well.

The main gist of our conclusions was that this disparity between the academy and those in practice was discouraging. We both felt that while there were several technical communications programs that did help with job placement and practical experience while still in the studying process, not enough were. Additionally, some of the information that was being given to students about the realities of working in tech comm weren’t accurate or up to date. This is a disservice to both those who do research and especially to students who have to go out in the “real world”.  In order to not make it sound like I’m placing any blame on academia alone, practitioners also have a responsibility to be active in helping to groom future technical communicators as well. My NJIT colleague and I talked about we might be the first two members of an alumni advisory committee that we’d like to start (of course, NJIT doesn’t know this yet), because we felt that we could bring back our experiences either as instructors or merely as advisors to help professors and students keep up to speed with what’s happening outside the virtual or literal campus walls.

Now, in saying all this, I don’t mean to step on ANYONE’s toes in this discourse. Far from it! While I’m sure you can tell that I lean on the side of being a practitioner, this doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the academic side at all. I’ve been there. I’ve taught, too. However, there were just too many conversations in which I wanted to say to a few professors that only teach and do research, “REALLY?? Are you serious?”, knowing well that they were serious. I understand that many universities also have a hard rule about the need to do publish and research to keep one’s professorial job, so that can’t be easy to balance all of it.

Aunt Eller meant business when she had to "encourage" everyone to get along.

Aunt Eller meant business when she had to “encourage” everyone to get along.

When I first started meeting people at the ProComm conference, they assured me, as a first-time attendee, that this was a friendly group and it was easy to get to know others. This proved to be true. Just like the STC Summit and other conferences I have attended, the people were friendly, helpful, intelligent, and eager to “talk shop” with each other. I welcolmed that, and have found that these sentiments seem to be universal with all technical communicators. However, as time went by, that difference and angst between the academians and practitioners, while mild, was still palpable. The entire conference, I had a song running through my head from the American musical, “Oklahoma” called, “The Farmer and The Cowman (Territory Folk)”. (If you haven’t seen the musical before, you can watch the YouTube video of the song.) Essentially, the message of the song is that the two groups really had the same interests at hand in the end, and they needed to learn to cooperate more to make the goal of being the new state of Oklahoma work. I’m hoping that my role in this, on some level by opening up this conversation, is that I play the role of Aunt Eller from the same musical. She gives the advice at the end of this song by singing,

I’d teach you all a little sayin’
and learn the words by heart the way you should,
I don’t say that I’m no better than anybody else,
but I’ll be danged if I ain’t just as good!

;-)

The Living Bridge at the University of Limerick.  Looks like a good place to start to "bridge" the gap.

The Living Bridge at the University of Limerick.
Looks like a good place to start.

While I don’t think our difference as as strong as the farmers or the cowmen of Oklahoma, I’d like to think that we can come together much more easily and bridge that chasm more quickly and completely. We all have the same goal, after all–to continue to make technical communications a top notch field and create superior technical communicators. How can we go wrong with a goal like that?

My own view is that more needs to be done to connect academia with practitioners. I know that the STC-PMC, for example, has been very active in the past year working with technical writing students at Drexel University in Philadelphia. They are always looking for more local schools to connect with. I’m sure there are other outreach programs out there, but how many exactly, whether it’s through STC or IEEE or any other professional group out there? I know that I’m going to try to reach out to my own program at NJIT in the next week and see if I can offer any help. What can you do?

What do you think? I know a lot of my readers fall on both sides of this issue, and several straddle both. I’d love to hear what you think, and let’s get the conversation started on this!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments