Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Update from Philadelphia (2)

Many more good things today at the STC Summit in Philadelphia. Ginny Redish gave a presentation on "Writing as an Asynchronous Conversation", in which she related Grice's maxims of conversation to the sort of technical writing many of us are involved in. In a conversation that is asynchronous - as opposed to a synchronous one - we need to anticipate the questions our unknown interlocutor may have, and prepare answers that are not merely accurate, but also appropriate in tone and context. No wonder good tech writing is so difficult to achieve! Ginny gave many examples (some from her book Letting Go of the Words) to show how approaching tech writing as a conversation produced engaging and effective results.

More to come from this great conference tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Update from Philadelphia

I'm at the STC Conference in Philadelphia this week and there are loads of good things hapening.
Being at a conference like this, with lots of people I usually only meet on lists and networking sites is great fun, but there are plenty of serious things going on.
The opening keynote address was given by Howard Rheingold, the first editor of HotWired and the man who gave the world the term "virtual communities", As you might expect, he gave an entertaining and stimulating presentation.
I went to a session on the STC's ongoing work on creating a "body of knowledge" for the technical communication profession. This is a descriptive, not a prescriptive, exercise and the aim is to build a comprehensive taxonomy of our profession. This will eventually become a web portal with links to relevant resources. Although this project is separate from any work on "technical writer certification" (a bit of a perennial argument in STC circles) it does have implications for education, and I will keep my academic colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University updated.
I'm also attending various practical eductaional sessions which I hope will make my own work easier.