STC-NEC Interchange 2018’s Keynote Speaker: TechCommGeekMom

Nighttime image of Lowell, MA
Well, this will be a first!  I’ve been invited to be the keynote speaker for the STC-New England Chapter’s conference, Interchange, this coming fall–October 26-27, 2018 in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Interchange is one of those regional conferences that I’ve wanted to attend, and to be invited to speak as the keynote? Wow! I’m truly honored.

They first asked me if I was interested actually when I was in the midst of CONDUIT 2018 this past spring. To say the least, I was surprised. Me? Keynote material? Then I thought, hey, why not? I’m sure I can figure out something to talk about in a half hour (I have until October to figure it out now–possibly sooner).  I know that the STC-New England Chapter is hard at work to ensure that this is going to be a really good conference, and worth the trip north in the fall! I’m looking forward to seeing my STC friends from New England, and meeting some new ones.

If you are interesting in checking out this conference, go to the Interchange 2018 website for more details. I hope that I will see you there, and please don’t jeer or heckle me while I speak (although some people I would expect it from. LOL)

In the meantime, plans are already underway for CONDUIT 2019. We haven’t pinned down an exact date yet, but it will be in the first half of April, for sure.  I’m in the midst of seeing if we can find a new venue for our little conference. I’ve visited one place that’s excellent–and most of our board’s first choice–but I have to do due diligence in visiting the other places as well that we’ve chosen as finalists, and then doing some number-crunching to see which is the most economical. There will be some big changes for next year no matter where we go, but we are confident that it will be worth it.

In the meantime, go register for Interchange 2018, and I’ll see you there!

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Why we always need to keep learning…

I saw this video on LinkedIn, and wanted to share. I continually tell my son (who is a day shy of finishing his Junior year of high school at this writing) that tomorrow’s jobs aren’t necessarily today’s jobs, so not to worry. Heck, when I graduated high school, there was no Internet, so any web-related jobs of any kind, like a digital content strategist, was not a job.

Watch this–this is why we have to keep learning and growing to be prepared for the next thing.

When I was looking for the original video to embed here, it turns out that this video came out a year ago. Nonetheless, it’s still applicable.

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Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened?

A great bot can be about as useful as an average app. When it comes to rich, sophisticated, multi-layered apps, there’s no competition. Today’s most successful bot experiences take a hybrid approach, incorporating chat into a broader strategy that encompasses more traditional elements.

Source: Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened?

This is a great article that was originally shared on STC San Diego’s Facebook page.

One of the things that often irritates me is that you go to a conference or attend a webinar, and you hear about the latest and greatest technology, and understandably, one gets mixed feelings about hearing about new technology (at least I do). On one hand, you are excited to hear about the latest innovations, and see how new technology has the potential to change things in great ways. On the other hand, it’s new, and it’s scary, and sometimes it’s complicated or deep. Add to that, the possibility of using that technology, for most of us, is still far away because our place of work is still not even to the standards of what’s available today (Windows 8, anyone?)

This article, while a little long, is worth the read, because it talks about those cycles of how new tech or concepts gets adopted, and also shows some great examples of why we shouldn’t fret, because sometimes the technology isn’t there yet.

As technical communicators, the idea of chat bots and AI has been shoved down our throats for the past year or so, much in the same way that content marketing had been for several years before that.  While technical communicators are definitely the people who should pay attention to chat bots, because they have the skills that can lend to making AI a more useable experience, most companies are not there yet, or are–again–forcing something that isn’t ready or sophisticated yet before its time. This article shows that clearly.

We can most definitely be part of technological advances going forward, but more often than not, where we work is not caught up with yesterday’s tech still. While we can help get things caught up, I don’t think the pressure that the industry is putting is necessary. Yes, we should be ready, but it’s not today. It might not even be tomorrow.  Getting panicked about writing for chatbots and such to create natural language and great user experiences are something we should think about now, but most of us are still trying to get our employers or clients to understand how to use social media (and that’s been out for more than ten years already).  Don’t get me wrong–technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, and we should definitely do our best to try to keep up with it or at least be knowledgeable about it.  But we really aren’t ready for it, and that’s okay. We’ll get there. There’s no rush. Better to do it right than winging it and hoping it will work okay.

What do you think of this article? Do you think the push is too hard, or it’s appropriate? Include your comments below.

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Writing for chatbots – Microsoft Style Guide | Microsoft Docs

Source: Writing for chatbots – Microsoft Style Guide | Microsoft Docs

Thanks to Johanne Lavallee for sharing this on LinkedIn.

There are a few good pointers in here as we start looking towards the future, and from none other than one of the big sources, Microsoft.  So much of the advice here is just good technical writing, after all. Plain language, and clear and concise writing is important all the time!

What do you think of these guidelines? Did Microsoft miss anything? Include your thoughts below.



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White House: Retired teacher fixed Trump’s letter about gun policy and sent it back. – The Washington Post

“If I had received this from one of my students,” Yvonne Mason said, “I would have handed it back without a grade on it and said, ‘I hope you left the real one at home.’ ”

Source: White House: Retired teacher fixed Trump’s an letter about gun policy and sent it back. – The Washington Post

This isn’t another political statement, but rather an amusing story that I can relate to easily.  I keep hearing arguments from some that language is always evolving, and while it’s true, good grammar doesn’t change as quickly. After at least a thousand years of English evolution, grammar is pretty much stable, I’d say, these days. And you would think that those at the highest echelons of the U.S. government would understand the basics, at least.


So, to see this English teacher not only send the letter back with corrections, but also the reference to a government plain-language site just thrills me.

I found out that I will be teaching another class in the fall at NJIT’s MSPTC program, and it touches on this topic–proper grammar and editing. So you can guess that lately, I’ve been digging into grammar texts and such with a little more vigor than I have in a while, and enjoying the process.  So to see this example–well, it might be used in class in the fall. 🙂

What do you think? Should the government–especially high offices–be held accountable for their use of grammar and how they use language? Include your comments below.


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My Grammar Pet Peeve: The Apostrophe Crisis | Thrive Global

The phenomenon is spreading so rapidly, it’s practically an apostrodemic.

Source: My Grammar Pet Peeve: The Apostrophe Crisis | Thrive Global

YES, YES, YES! Arianna Huffington–THANK YOU.  In addition to my huge issues with people not using adverbs correctly–or at all–anymore, this is another thing that shouldn’t be a pet peeve. It’s just plain sloppy!

Listen, any good editor should be able to know the difference and pick up when apostrophes are misused.  This is stuff you learn in third grades! Seriously!

Read this article, and tell me what you think. Ms. Huffington is totally on point with this article, and as technical communicators–especially those of us who write and edit all the time, we should be working hard to prevent this abuse of grammar from happening! It’s getting worse!

What do you think? Is this just “language evolution” or laziness on the part of writers and editors who overly rely on “autocorrect” to write content? Include your comments below.


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Lifehacks for Technical Writers | Technical Writing Blog

Source: Lifehacks for Technical Writers | Technical Writing Blog

While I’m not familiar with the company or products for ClickHelp, these were some great tips and reminders for technical writers to help with the writing process and keep the creative brain activity flowing!  I can say with the first one, I only do halfway, as my physical desk is always a wreck (supposedly the sign of intelligence), but my digital workspace is always clean and organized. I’m a stickler for that, just to keep track of everything!

Do you agree that these life hacks are helpful? Do you have any to add? Include your thoughts in the comments below.


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