The STC-PMC Election of 2018: Results

The results are in, and we’d like to give a thank you to everyone who nominated themselves and others, our nominees, and all who voted. The results our in, and we’d love for you to meet…

Source: The STC-PMC Election of 2018: Results

This is very exciting! I’m moving up the ranks! It’s been a challenging but rewarding last two years as the Vice-President of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of the STC. And now, I’m honored to be elected President! Our outgoing President, Tim Esposito, has done a great job the last two years, and has been (and will continue to be) a great mentor in leadership. I have a big task in keeping up the momentum, as during his tenure, the chapter won two Platinum awards and two Pacesetter Awards from the STC. No pressure, right? But I’m looking forward to being the new President of this fabulous chapter, and working with a fantastic new team.

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A 2-Year Stanford Study Shows the Astonishing Productivity Boost of Working From Home | Thrive Global

There’s been a lot of debate about working from home, but this Stanford study has put the dispute to rest.

Source: A 2-Year Stanford Study Shows the Astonishing Productivity Boost of Working From Home | Thrive Global

Leave it to Arianna Huffington to post this on LinkedIn. There have always been company trials to see if working remotely actually works, and now do we not only have proof, but it was actually studied at an academic level, and proven that it does help!

The author says that working a few days a week is good, but loneliness can settle in. That’s true, but for some, that’s okay to a point. This is why, even if you live thousands of miles away from your employer, it helps to have a couple trips planned to connect with the people you work with when you can. Trips like that actually give me something to look forward to. But otherwise, I’m one of those people who doesn’t mind the “loneliness”. I like the quiet and no (or very few) interruptions. I usually can get a lot done as a result.  This is also why I get involved with social media and local professional groups, like STC, to connect with like-minded people who can help be sounding boards when I have questions, or just provide some actual social banter online. STC has definitely been very helpful in that regard. There are also social media groups out there for remote and nomad workers, so even if it’s not the same field, there’s a way to be connected.

What do you think of this study? I’m excited that it actually proves what I’ve said all along, and also supports what I said about the spread of urbanization dominating job opportunities. As the article said, the reasons are clear, and it’s not for all jobs. But in the tech comm world, this is a very viable solution, and it really shouldn’t be ignored.

Include your comments below on what you think about this article.


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Google’s AI Assistant kicks it up a few notches!

This just came out in the news today, which I saw through the Mashable feed.  Google’s AI Assistant is really learning how to interact using natural language in a big way. The future, if it’s not now, is coming very soon!

If this is truly working, and I’m guessing it’ll be available to the public soon enough, it’s going to be kicking the back end of Siri and Alexa and Cortana.  I’ve used Siri for a while now, and it’s not perfect, but it’s okay–it’s gotten better over the years.  Alexa has been a bit of a disappointment to me–Siri can usually do better.  With mixed results from those two, I haven’t really ventured into trying Cortana, but I’m willing to bet that it’s still not as developed as the Google Assistant.

How does this affect technical communicators? Big time.  From what I can tell, this is about the chatbots and machine language learning that’s been talked about recently. But at the same time, it affects how we communicate through rhetoric or voice.  Sometimes we take actual speaking for granted, and it’s when we try to describe something that one sees clearly that it becomes difficult. Or, sometimes we can write it out well, but can’t explain well in voice.  This means that plain and very clear language is going to be helpful going forward as we develop the content for these AI assistants that will be developing.

Soon enough, we’ll be talking to HAL or to our starship’s computer with ease.

Scotty talking to a computer mouse.

When going back in time in Star Trek IV, Chief Engineer Scott forgot that there wasn’t AI in the late 1980s.

What do you think about this development? It’s exciting to me–enough to make me want to purchase a Google Assistant! It definitely raises the bar for Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, for sure. Let some healthy competition begin! (And more tech comm jobs associated with it!) Include your thoughts below.

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10 Mobile Learning Trends For 2018 – eLearning Industry

Source: 10 Mobile Learning Trends For 2018 – eLearning Industry

This article popped up in my Twitter feed, and it’s actually rather good. I think one of the introductory lines in the article said (and I’m paraphrasing here), that there is no need to separate e-learning and m-learning as it should really all be the same thing now. Not so true when I first became interested in the field! But I totally agree with that assessment, and the recommendations in this article are a great reflection of the evolution of where not only web design and UX have evolved in the last six to eight years, but also how online learning has evolved in how it’s presented.

Take a look….Do you like what you are reading for this? Do you agree with the author’s assessment? I thought this was generally a better article about e-learning trends than others I’d seen more recently. Share your thoughts in the comments.


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Do you have to relocate to an urban tech hub to find a technical writing job? | I’d Rather Be Writing

To find high-paying jobs in tech comm, many technical writers move to urban technology hubs because companies want their workers on site. Living in an urban tech hub usually involves high costs of living and the sacrifice of a more rural, suburban lifestyle. It’s unclear why the digital revolution doesn’t motivate more companies to welcome remote workers.

Source: Do you have to relocate to an urban tech hub to find a technical writing job? | I’d Rather Be Writing

You can imagine my excitement when I saw that the top story in the STC’s Tech Comm Today newsletter was a curated article by none other than Tom Johnson of “I’d Rather Be Writing” himself, and it was an article inspired by one of my articles here! (Thanks, Tom!)

Tom takes the time to look at the STC Salary Database (which I have definitely tried to use to my advantage) to look a little deeper into the topic.  In many ways, he comes to similar conclusions as I have, and the comments included (including one of my own talking about the database) is a great reflection of what’s going on in the tech comm field right now as far as opportunity availability.

After reading Tom’s post (and mine), what do you think? Is this a topic that should be pursued by the STC at-large to help companies become aware of the many tech comm resources globally that are available if they become more flexible? Include your comments below.



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I job hunted like a man. Here’s what happened. – The Lily

I was skeptical

Source: I job hunted like a man. Here’s what happened. – The Lily

This was an interesting read, and actually made me think a little bit about my approach to job hunting.  It used to be that I did job hunt like a guy–if I had most of the qualifications, then I applied. But in recent years, I haven’t done that so much. But I think that with the recession, it got to a point that so many people were out of work that employers could afford to put together a crazy wish list for employment qualifications, and they would find that person. Instead of 10 people applying to a job, 100 people would apply to the job, and more people could fill the majority of those qualifications than I could.  So, I’m not sure it’s a “female thing” as much as being stigmatized that unless I have as many of the qualifications as possible, they won’t even look at me. I’ve actually been turned down for interviews because I didn’t know that ONE thing that they wanted, but otherwise qualified in spades (and I’m willing to bet, as I would tell many a recruiter, that the ONE thing is related to something similar I’ve done, and so I’m sure I’d learn that ONE thing in a matter of a couple weeks. But no deal.)

There are also other things working against me as well, namely being a woman, having a Latino (married) last name, and at this writing, quickly approaching being 50 years old. In the tech world, that seems to be three fairly big strikes against me when it shouldn’t be in this day and age, but there we are.

So what’s a gal to do? I’m thinking that perhaps I will start this approach again when the time comes and see what happens. I don’t think it will change things. The hiring process at large is a broken system of HR professionals or machines looking for keywords in resumes and cover letters, and if they don’t see them, you automatically get passed over. You might be overqualified for that position, but if you don’t have specifically XYZ, then you won’t even be considered in the first place.  Applicants are treated as assets instead of being treated like people.  I’ve often said, “Look, I am confident I could do this job, just let me interview with the hiring manager, and I’ll bet that even if I don’t get the job, then they’ll know that there’s someone who they can consider for another position later.” But no.

What do you think of this article–as a man, or as a woman? Include your comments below.


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Don’t Trust Your CMS

In the digital era, publishing is easier than ever. But so is making mistakes.

Source: Don’t Trust Your CMS

Liz Fraley of Single-Sourcing Solutions brought this to my attention through social media, and now I’m sharing with you.

As a person who has spent, oh, at least a decade (if not more) in either a CMS or an LMS (same thing, except it has a testing component in it and other database stuff attached to it), this is an interesting read.  I’ve dealt with more haphazard, Frankenstein-like CMSs than I have with out-of-the box CMS products, and none of them are perfect and allow you to publish things exactly the way you want. Part of this is due to how the CMS is set up, and how the CSS files are set up. Based on those things, no amount of markup is going to change those overriding parameters.

One CMS, I’ve determined, that is generally vilified by the technical communication community is SharePoint. I’ve had to use it for at least two or three jobs in the past decade. And every time it was awful.  Why? Microsoft, in all its infinite wisdom, has not created something that delivers what it says, or is intuitive in any way.  Or, it could just be how the developers who set up each instance of SharePoint that I had to deal with did a poor job.  For example, I’m using SharePoint for a current job right now.  Theoretically, a user can copy something in Word, and paste it into SharePoint, and retain its formatting. It’s only partially true. If you need to tweak the formatting once it’s pasted, it gets ugly quickly.  Now, to be dangerous, you can edit the HTML to clean up the code, but that is terrible and time consuming because between Word and SharePoint, a lot of unnecessary tags are added that aren’t needed.  In the current version that I have to use for my job, a simple bullet point is never a bullet–it’s always an arrow instead.  Not great when you have to create long lists of things.  The big joke to me with another version was that it doesn’t like to format tables nicely. I would often copy the table into Dreamweaver, strip the extraneous code, or recode without anything crazy going on, and then copy the clean code back into SharePoint, and it would look beautiful. Now, I’m not a developer or programmer, but I know enough HTML to be dangerous and have been using some version of Dreamweaver for 20 years, so I know what I’m looking at. People thought I was some sort of coding genius to clean up their table for a SharePoint page, but it was really very elementary stuff. And forget about the back end–I can’t find where anything is, because it’s not intuitive in the set up at all.

The point is, this is where content strategist need to speak up to ensure that the tools they are using at a given company actually provides what the company needs. Content strategists and experienced content managers understand information structure, taxonomy and all that good stuff than a regular IT guy, because they are the ones in the trenches.  Because so many CMS programs are bad, content strategists have to be creative with work-arounds. A common one, for example, is that if a video can’t be embedded on a page, you create an image that looks like a video with the player going, so the user will click it, and it will open up a separate window or browser tab to actually play the video.  It shouldn’t have to be so hard! Some CMS systems get it right, or get it closer to being more intuitive. When I used AEM, it was very simple. Even WordPress or Drupal is more intuitive than some of the big enterprise/industrial CMSs out there.

What are your experiences? Do you agree with the author of the article? Include your comments below.


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