Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Representing Chicago at #STC12

The annual STC Summit is a time to connect with our long-distance colleagues. For Chicago attendees, this year can also be a good time to discover local tech comm talent. Chicagoland and the STC Chicago chapter will be contributing a respectable delegation to the speaker lineup. Speakers talked with me via email about their backgrounds and presentations.

Chicago STC Members

Speakers from the Chicago chapter include local members as well as long-distance members.

Beth Najberg

I'm an independent instructional designer/information designer. I've had my own business, Beginnings, for 21 years. I develop customized training and document systems as well as train and consult with people about developing PowerPoint® presentations.

[Presenting is] a wonderful way to push myself to grow professionally. This is my ninth presentation - and it's just as exciting as the first presentation in 1999. It's also great to see when people know they will use my ideas.

I include 61 photographs and 8 infographics in the presentation, all ideas so people can make effective presentations. I also show how to identify a theme so all the images & infographics & ideas are tied together.

Emily Kowal

I work at Walgreen Co., an American retail pharmacy chain. I'm working on some compliance policies, but because of recent shifts in the workplace, I'm actually doing more auditing right now, hopefully temporarily.

I'm a member of the Chicago STC chapter, and I did a spot of judging for them a few years ago. I'm also the co-manager, along with Dawnell Claessen, of the Policies and Procedures SIG. I presented at a progression last year and, as SIG leadership, am doing it again this year.

Adam Evans

I work at kCura, a software company in downtown Chicago. kCura creates e-discovery software for the legal industry that's used as part of the discovery phase of litigation. I work on the technical writing team creating guides and end-user documentation for our clients.

I've wanted to present at the summit ever since I attended my first summit three years ago. I got together with a previous coworker and together we submitted a proposal.

The topic we're presenting about is something we worked on for over two years at my previous job. We're pretty proud of the change in workflow we created, and we hope we can inspire other teams to truly make documentation for the user.

Chris Hester

I’m an independent consultant, working with clients on technical communication and content strategy projects. For this year’s Summit, I am the Content Delivery track manager, and I also organized the Usability, User Experience, and Accessibility progression.

With progressions, participants attend three short presentations in an hour. As the organizer, I thought the cool thing about that would be facilitating the session, plus using a stopwatch and air horn to stay on schedule. When I shared that idea with the program committee, it was gently suggested that perhaps instead, I could participate in the progression and talk about personas. So here I am, happily inviting you to “Getting Started with Personas,” in which we’ll talk about how to create personas and look at examples of personas created for a content strategy project.

Kristi Leach (Me)

I am an independent user experience designer, content strategist, and technical communicator. Over the years, as a tech writer and volunteer, I accrued UX experience, and now I'm building a client base for whom I do user research and content marketing consulting.

I presented a session at last year's Summit: a mini-workshop on usability and content testing. This year, a couple of the Summit organizers contacted me about participating in progressions. As we talked about what I've been up to (design school and job hunting), I was invited to also do a full session in the User Experience track.

My presentation is about transitioning from tech comm to UX, and I'm actually still in that transition. I am still looking for a bread-and-butter UX client, or a full time gig. But I'm advising small businesses, and I've seen a steady increase in my response rates as I'm pitching my services. I'm planning to share how I've refined my efforts.

Mollye Barrett

My consulting practice is ClearPath in Milwaukee where I am the President and Principal Consultant. My day-to-day work includes vendor-neutral content management consulting and technical communication development. My focus is on content strategy, business case, ROI, content reuse, DITA, document analysis, workflow analysis, translation, single-source writing, handling file formats and document conversions. 

I have presented at other Summits and always enjoy interacting with other technical communicators. STC Summits are a great opportunity for knowledge sharing. I'm also attending as Manager of the Single Sourcing SIG and am leading a progression on Leadership Day. 

While the session is firmly focused on ways to select a CMS without drama, the back-story is about the change management process employed during the CMS selection process. So, In addition to developing a set of requirements, attendees will also learn about how the selection process worked for a particular group.

Mary Knepper

[My company is] Ryba Associates, Inc. (RAI). RAI provides custom training and documentation to help corporations and individuals reach their business and personal development objectives. I develop training in communication and rolling mill operations along with a number of associates.

I am a member of Chicago STC and have been for over 20 years, I believe; I joined the East TN chapter maybe five or six years ago as well as the IDL SIG. I was one of the original developers of the Chicago STC Institute and am currently managing our regional conference, the Practical Conference on Communication.

A colleague and I co-presented at our regional conference and decided we would offer a version of the same topic at the Summit. Ideally, audience members would bring an email with them that demonstrates "tone" and that caused some difficulties as a result. They can analyze it as part of our workshop discussion for the structure I review and see what the author could have done better.

Other Chicago Technical Communicators

You might find these folks at a chapter meeting or another meetup. STC events like the Summit are a also a good way to connect with our colleagues in the larger tech comm, UX, and business communities.

Jen O'Brien

I work for Manifest Digital (www.manifestdigital.com) - I am the Content Strategy Director, responsible for delivering on this discipline for our clients, as well as supporting sales activities. Some of the activities I perform include content strategy and development, learning strategy and development, user experience, business analysis and project management.

I've been active in STC for several years. I am a former Senior Member of STC, Chicago Chapter, and several communities including content strategy, learning, and project management. Although I am no longer a member, when I saw that the conference was in the Chicago area this year, I submitted proposals for presentation.

The presentation not only focuses on the content audit portion of a project; it includes components of a complete content strategy lifecycle for an intranet replatform - such as content mapping, gap analysis, content migration, process and analytics.

Patrick DiMichele

I have spent the last twelve years making the internet a better place. In my current role at Manifest, I've  helped to conceive a forward-thinking intranet focused on collaboration for Walgreens, a web-based game aimed at immersing little girls in the pink-tastic world of Barbie, and a set of mobile-friendly, self-service tools for Encompass Insurance.

Before Manifest, I worked at mStoner, where I created web strategies for colleges, universities and non-profits. I've led super-successful and award-winning initiatives for the American Dental Association, Ball State University, Bethel University, College of William & Mary, George School and Princeton University.

In the session, "Card Sort Your Way to Better Information Architecture," we'll walk-through the nuts and bolts of card sorting. Beginning with what it is and how it works we'll quickly transition into a review of how and when best to deploy card sorts for maximum impact.

In the session, "Create Meaningful Online Experiences," we'll ask: what makes one website memorable and another wholly forgettable? What drives you to return to a site repeatedly? The answers are often surprising and decidedly low-tech. We'll examine the concepts and intentions driving several compelling online experiences with a focus on uncovering ideas worth putting to work at your organization.

Halcyon Lawrence

I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago but I’ve been living in Chicago since 2008 to attend graduate school. I'm in the final year of a doctoral program in technical communication at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.   I'm also a research assistant on an NSF-funded grant for research investigating language change in the Twin Cities.  You can read more about it here.

This is the second year that I submitted a paper for the STC conference.  In 2010, I wasn’t successful, but I was later contacted about turning my presentation into a webinar for STC.  I am particularly attracted to the diversity in the STC conference program.  My topic on speech intelligibility is different and I thought it might be of interest to the TC community.  The paper I’m presenting is part of my dissertation work on accented speech in the design of speech-mediated technology.

I am looking forward to meeting with the STC community and making contact with the local chapter at this conference.  I’ve been so impressed with the support services offered to new attendees and presenters.  It hasn’t even begun and I know it’s going to be a great event.

I’m advocating for technical communicators to spread their influence into other areas of design – in this case, the design of speech interactions.  The design of speech in technology products lacks regulation, with costly consequences.  There’s a gap there that I think TCs can fill.

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