April 29 After-Work Networking Opportunity

One of the most important benefits we derive from our local chapter membership is the opportunity to network with fellow technical communicators in our area. To help provide these opportunities, the STC/SM leadership team has promoted a program of local networking lunches, breakfasts, and after-work happy hours in various locations throughout southeast Michigan since last autumn. The reaction from the membership has been very positive, and I’m happy to announce that another such event is now planned for late April in one of the northern Detroit suburbs.

On Tuesday, April 29, I will be hosting a casual after-work/happy hour STC/SM networking event at Champps America Restaurant and Bar, 301 W. Big Beaver Road (also known as Quarton Road, 16 Mile, or Metro Parkway in these parts), Troy, 48084 (248-526-0333). I plan to arrive a little before 5:00 PM, and we have a table reserved until 6:30 PM under my name and “STC.” I’ll also have a small sign with our STC/SM logo on the table to help you find me. If you can join us for any part of that time, we’d love to have you.

We’ll use the time to get to know one another, talk about our role as technical communicators, and discuss STC-SM membership and ideas for increasing its value to technical communicators. Each attendee is responsible for purchasing his/her lunch or beverages, but the conversation is FREE!

This will be a “casual” networking event, so any and all STC/SM members, not-yet-STC/SM members, attendees at past STC/SM events and their colleagues are all welcome. However, I’d appreciate you letting me know if you think you can make it so I can be sure to have enough seating.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Tom Glennan, SCT/SM President
tglennan@twsinfo.com
Cell phone: (248) 515-2318

Expanding Our Networks—One Event at a Time

Written by Mary Jo David

DocsNetworkingEvent-031914-verticalFive of us commiserated during Happy Hour at Doc’s Sports Retreat in Livonia—the site of our latest casual networking event, which was held on March 19, 2014. Some ate, some drank, and each of us shared what it’s like to be a technical communicator for different companies around the metropolitan Detroit area. The make-up at these gatherings always varies, with some people employed, some self-employed, and some looking for work. At this particular happy hour, four of the attendees are currently employed by other companies and one is self-employed.

All sorts of topics worked their way into our conversation: Robohelp…Madcap Flare…Doc-to-Help…Framemaker…Word…WordPerfect (yes, you read that right!)…single sourcing and reuse…PDF collaboration…Pass the chips(!)…STC…The Summit…writing for insurance agents…ICD-10…training…hidden sources of gluten…company portals…best companies to work for…mergers… XML…Epic Editor…Arbortext (the company and the old building in Ann Arbor)…contracting… procedures and job aids…the Internet’s birthday…blogs vs. newsletters…STC SIGS…lone writers…the evolution of page layout and font cartridges…Paris…French…German…being a courteous traveler…and the list goes on!

Most importantly, those who attended have expanded their professional networks, which, over the course of years, can prove to be very beneficial. Welcome to my network, Cheri, and it was great seeing you again, Sharon, Marty, and George!

Tales from an STC-SM Networking Lunch

Submitted by Marianne Ibrahim

On Friday, MSTC-SM networking lunch 2arch 7, STC-SM held a networking lunch at Palm Palace in Ann Arbor that I was fortunate to be able to attend.  I was able to catch up with some blasts from the past such as Lisa Veasey, my personal technical writing guru after David Pogue, and Maryann Bowen who was the Vice President of the chapter in 2009 when I was selected as the recipient of their scholarship to attend the STC Summit in Atlanta that year.  That was an amazing opportunity and experience.  I still even use the “leather” portfolio that all attendees received (along with my Anderson Cooper bookmark thanks to a side trip to tour CNN studios).  This lunch also enabled me to meet a few new faces:  Mary Jo David, Nancy Hoffman, and Chris Juillet. (more…)

STC/SM Casual Networking events…a great way to network on a small scale

Written by Mary Jo David

Six of us gathered at Mr.   Joe’s in Southfield this past Tuesday (2/25/14) for an STC/SM happy hour casual networking event. I met three technical communicators I didn’t know and caught up with two others whom I’ve met before. Enjoyed some good conversation   on many topics.The one that stands out was the discussion about content management systems–what they are, who uses them, and how effective they are. Future casual networking lunches and happy hours are scheduled in March and April. Hoping to see some old friends and meet some new ones! See the schedule below. RSVP if you’ll be attending. That way we can make sure to   have enough seating available, and we can notify you if something changes due to inclement weather, etc. At these events, attendees are responsible for purchasing their own food/beverages, but the camaraderie and conversation are free!

  • Friday, March 7, 2014: Networking lunch, 11:30-1:00, at Palm Palace, 2370 Carpenter Rd., Ann Arbor. RSVP by noon on Thursday, 3/6 to membership@stc-sm.org
  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014: Networking happy hour, 4-6 p.m. at Doc’s Sports Retreat on   Victor Parkway in Livonia (near I-275 and 7 Mile Rd.) RSVP by noon on Tuesday, 3/18, to membership@stc-sm.org
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014: Networking lunch, 11:30-1:00, at Niki’s, 735 Beaubien (Greektown) in Downtown Detroit. RSVP by Wednesday, 4/16, to membership@stc-sm.org
  • TBD: Another networking event for Detroit’s northern suburbs…stay tuned for date and   place!

The Brainiac Paradox

Written by Tom Glennan

Mark CornilleSTC/SM members and friends who attend our program meetings come for a variety of reasons and that was indeed the case for the “The Brainiac Paradox” program on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. For example, I attended “The Brainiac Paradox” event because I was curious about how Mark Cornillie, the author of the book by the same title and the featured speaker, defined the term “brainiac” and wondered whether I qualified as one. Mark Lockwood, a chapter member and past president, half-jokingly told me that he attended to “find out why he has a job as a technical communicator.” I’m guessing that some guests came just for the food. But regardless of the attendees’ personal reasons for going, the brainiac event was a great opportunity for everyone in the room to hear about Mark Cornillie’s investigation into the world of individuals whose superior mental abilities don’t always make them successful in other areas of their lives.

Mark explained that the brainiac paradox he investigated involves people who demonstrate recognized genius but are often socially “atypical” or disadvantaged. He asked why some people excel in one area of their lives but not in others. He discussed how the individuals he studied strongly display the characteristics of the brain’s left hemisphere (they are often logical, analytical, mathematical, and organized) but seem to be severely lacking in the brain’s right-hemisphere traits (they are typically not intuitive, empathetic, emotive, or holistic). He gave examples of the impact this paradox had on these individuals’ performance in both personal and organizational settings, and how hard it was for them to relate to others in team or collaborative settings. (more…)

Letter from the Membership Manager

ANNOUNCING A NEW BATCH OF LOCAL “CASUAL” NETWORKING EVENTS:

Your local Southeastern Michigan chapter of STC is unveiling some new dates for upcoming casual networking events around the metropolitan Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. Some are lunches and some are happy hour events this time. Please RSVP in advance if you’ll be attending so we make sure to have enough seating available and so we can notify you if something changes. At these events, attendees are responsible for purchasing their own food/beverages, but the camaraderie and conversation are free!

  • Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Networking happy hour, 4-6 p.m., at Mr. Joe’s, 26077 West 12 Mile Road, Southfield. RSVP by noon on Monday, 2/24 to membership@stc-sm.org.
  • Friday, March 7, 2014: Networking lunch, 11:30 -1:00, at Palm Palace, Carpenter Rd., Ann Arbor area. RSVP by noon on Thursday, 3/6 to membership@stc-sm.org.
  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014: Networking happy hour, 4-6 p.m., at Doc’s Sports Retreat on Victor Parkway in Livonia (off I-275 and 7 Mile). RSVP by noon on Tuesday 3/18 to membership@stc-sm.org.
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014: Networking lunch, 11:30 -1:00, at Niki’s, 735 Beaubien (Greektown) in Downtown Detroit. RSVP by Wednesday, 4/16 to membership@stc-sm.org.
  • TBD: Another networking event for Detroit’s northern suburbs…stay tuned for date and place.

FREE STC WEBINAR: USING STC RESOURCES TO FIND EMPLOYMENT

Presenter: Dr. Jackie Damrau

When: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time: 12:30-1:30 p.m., EST

To register, send an email to cindy@paofamily.com

Description:

STC members will learn how to use STC website resources to help them in finding their ideal job. We start off by covering the “10 Tips to Your Ideal Dream Job” with the associated STC website resources used to supplement each tip. We then conclude by quickly walking through “4 Career Search Tips for What Not To Do” and the “80/20 Rule During Interviews.”

About Dr. Damrau:

Dr. Jackie Damrau is a Sr. Business Systems Analyst at CBRE. In her current role, Jackie models business processes and other department workgroup processes using BPMN modeling notation for determining workflow automation of existing paper-based processes or improving existing business processes. Jackie has more than 25 years of technical communication experience. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), member of the STC North Texas Lone Star chapter and the Instructional Design and Learning SIG, and the Book Review Editor for Technical Communication. Jackie’s past international positions have been as a SIG manager for the Instructional Design and Learning SIG; assistant SIG manager for the Management SIG; elected member of the Nominations Committee; and general manager of the STC International Summit Awards (2010-2012). Jackie enjoys reading literature, sociology, linguistics, and philosophy. Find her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/jackiedamrau) or on Twitter (@damrauja).

 

Mary Jo David, STC-SM Membership Manager

 

 

Member Spotlight: Susan Fisher

What is your educational background? Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career?
Oct 2013 SusanFisher_LowRes_2011_Twitter-cropI earned Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design in the 1970s. Soon afterward, however, when the “school of reality” hit home, I took a job as a documentation specialist with a computer services company. I found I was good at researching technical topics and explaining them to others. When the company’s documentation group added a training function, I jumped into that. I’ve been an instructional designer ever since — although I still consider myself a technical communicator above all. In fact, last year I earned the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) designation from STC.

How long have you been a member of  STC? In what STC positions have you served?
I’ve been a member of STC and the Southeastern Michigan chapter since 1982. Having gotten into the tech comm field more or less by accident, I had little idea of its professional development opportunities — until a co-worker told me about STC. I joined and discovered a whole new world of concepts, information, and people doing exciting thinking and work in the field. For most of the past 30 years I’ve been only a consumer of STC services. I was finally persuaded to give something back in 2012, when I agreed to be nominated as secretary of STC-SM. I’m currently serving my second term.

Where are you currently employed? What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting or satisfying about your job?
I’m employed at Innovative Learning Group in Royal Oak. (more…)

Recap of January 14 Program—Beyond the Heat Map: The Future of Eye-Tracking

Jon West, presenterWe were treated to a very interesting presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Jon West, Director of Marketing and Opportunities for LC Technologies, Inc., located in Fairfax Virginia, was our speaker and demonstrator. He began the evening by setting up his eye-tracking device and software so that before the talk the attendees could experience first hand how this technology works.

In his presentation, Jon covered the history of eye-tracking as it applies to human-computer interaction. The technology was developed as far back as 1898 and some of Jon’s slides showed mechanisms that appeared almost like medieval torture devices! Jon discussed the evolution of this technology through the years and told us about the implications that it has for today. Among the applications that currently benefit from this technology are: marketing research, usability, and medical. Jon also predicted that this technology would be used in the future with robots, cell phones and other devices.

After the talk, Jon again demonstrated the eye-tracker device to the attendees who were interested in having their eye movements calibrated and then analyzed to show how they were interacting with what they saw on the monitor.

We thank Jon West for a very informative and fun presentation and we also thank Cengage Learning® in Farmington Hills for allowing us to use their facilities and for arranging for the food and drinks.

Book Review: 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People

100Things

Author: Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D. Published: New Riders Berkeley, CA. April 2011. 256 pages.
[Source: This book was received as a prize at the World Usability Day 2013 meeting in Detroit.]

Adapted from reviews on Amazon.com with comments added by Sharon McDonnell

This appealing, short book brings together little nuggets of psychology, which the author makes immediately relevant to design decisions. The strength of this book is that the author cites more recent research about principles that you either thought you knew and were wrong, or that you thought you knew and were indeed right. (more…)