DITA Webinar; STC VP Candidate's Letters; Voting Opens Feb 28!

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STC TC Communicator
Published by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication
March 2018, Volume 4, Issue 8



                    Carlos Evia                                     Michael Priestley

​What technical communicators need to know about
Lightweight DITA

March 13, 2018
Dinner and Networking 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Webinar Program 6:30 - 7:30 pm

Wilder Foundation

451 Lexington Parkway North, St. Paul, MN 55104

Register Now

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an open standard for structuring and publishing information that has revolutionized the work of many technical communicators. The standard is continually evolving, based on the changing needs of practitioners, managers, and academics. As part of that process, DITA has spawned a new proposed standard, Lightweight DITA (LwDITA), which simplifies its content structures and allows authoring in XML, HTML5, and Markdown.

In this webinar, the co-chairs of the Lightweight DITA subcommittee with the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards introduce the benefits of this proposed standard for technical communication practitioners, students, and researchers.


Michael Priestley,
Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM)
Enterprise Content Technology Strategist

Michael Priestley is a product owner and content technology strategist, currently leading the IBM Marketing Taxonomy Guild to revise and align taxonomy initiatives across the marketing ecosystem. He has experience working with and across documentation, support, training, and marketing content as an enterprise content technology strategist. He was one of the original architects and editors of the DITA standard, was named an OASIS Distinguished Contributor in 2017, and is currently co-chairing the Lightweight DITA subcommittee.

Carlos Evia, Ph.D.,
Director of Professional and Technical Writing
Associate Professor of Technical Communication
Virginia Tech
Carlos Evia is an associate professor and director of Professional and Technical Writing at Virginia Tech, where he also conducts research for the Centers in Human-Computer Interaction and Innovation in Construction Safety, Health, and Wellbeing. He is also a member of the DITA Technical Committee and co-chair (with Michael Priestley) of the Lightweight DITA subcommittee. He is the lead author of the LwDITA technical specification.



The 2018 STC Election opens on 26 February and closes on 9 March 2018. To be eligible to vote, members must have paid their dues by 1 February 2018.
Here are two great letters from the candidates for Vice President of STC!
A Letter from Ben Woelk,
​Candidate for STC Vice President

Dear STC Twin Cities Chapter Members,

I’m running for STC VP because I love STC and want to see it flourish, I see the challenges we’re facing, and I believe I can make a difference. (I’m also running because I’ve been approached by many STC community leaders who have asked me to run.)

Goals for STC and Our Members
STC faces many of the same challenges faced by other membership organizations—changing demographics, perceived value and relevance, and competition for our limited time and resources. In light of these challenges, we should:
  • Champion the role of technical communicators so that employers understand why Technical Communicators are so important, and in so doing, provide obvious value for our members. (I’m already exploring a strategy with the STC Office to address this.)
  • Recognize and embrace changing demographics by ensuring that we’re addressing today’s issues; attract and retain new members while continuing to serve and honor our long-time members.
  • Focus on growth.
  • Serve our members by ensuring they embrace technological change and are prepared for changing careers in a rapidly-evolving workplace.
  • Take a global leadership role in the profession by engaging internationally in standards development and in partnering with similar organizations.
  • Ensure that STC is structurally sound; being fiscally responsible while making needed changes and growing in the areas we can have the most impact.
Goals for STC Communities
I want to build strong geographic communities and SIGs, the lifeblood of our organization and source of innovation. Based on years of service to community leaders, I’m proposing five things we should do:
  • Establish a leadership mentoring program where experienced leaders partner with new chapter leaders to provide guidance on problem solving and to be the sounding boards that all leaders need from time to time.
  • Work with chapter leaders to recruit leadership outside of their immediate geographic area, leverage an expanded mentoring program, and provide leadership training events.
  • Explore the concept of LIGs (local interest groups) tied to existing chapters to bring networking opportunities to members outside of the local chapter area and connect them to STC. Although this initially sounds like more work for chapters, this helps chapters by providing a way to benefit from the leadership abilities of someone not local, while expanding their potential membership base.
  • Ensure that we’re providing value to a changing workforce. What this means for STC and its chapters is that we need to offer meaningful experiences and programming geared towards the needs of new practitioners who've entered the workforce, while ensuring that we’re equipping our long-time members to become and remain competitive.
  • Provide opportunities and platforms for chapters and SIGs to work collaboratively and share programming. I’ve started to address this challenge in the last year by leveraging Slack to provide an online workspace (STCCommunityPrograms.slack.com) where communities can plan joint virtual programs. I’d like to see us leverage new technologies to increase inter-chapter collaboration and sharing of best practices.
Why You Should Vote for Me
  • I’ve been investing in community leaders both officially and unofficially for the last seven years. STC communities are my passion.
  • I understand the issues facing STC at the Society level and at the Community level. I understand that we need to ensure that STC remains relevant and thrives. More importantly, I understand that our membership needs our support as a spokesperson for their value to employers and to ensure that our membership is equipped for careers in a rapidly-evolving workplace.
  • I have a track record of innovation and effective change at the local level (STC Rochester Chapter), the Society level (Director at Large, Community Affairs Committee, STC Scholarship Committee), and in industry (Rochester Institute of Technology and EDUCAUSE).
  • I’m a consensus builder and vision caster who can work with the STC Board and Office to ensure that we’re growing and serving our membership and the profession.
  • More than 80 STC leaders, members, and industry colleagues have publicly endorsed my candidacy because they believe in my platform and ability to build consensus and execute.
I greatly appreciate your support and will do my utmost to serve the Society and our membership well as your Vice President and future President!


​Ben Woelk

A Letter from Pam Estes Brewer, Candidate for STC Vice President
Dear Colleagues,
This newsletter editor has given VP candidates an opportunity to share some actionable ideas from our agendas with you.  Thank you!
First, just a little personal factoid: I spent some great years of my childhood living in Rochester.  I remember walking to school in a tunnel because the snow banks on both sides of the sidewalk were over my head, ice skating on the playground, tobogganing, and staring at the statue on the Mayo Clinic!
My agenda leadership agenda is built largely on professional development and communication that enriches and transforms our Society.  In my last article in this newsletter, I talked about my goals if I am elected.  In this letter, I share just a few concrete objectives related to communication that support those goals. 
I am happy to discuss any item here or in my broad statement as well as answer your questions.  Please note that any goal/objective I identify, I also commit to.
Goal: Build collaborations between industry and academy.

Why: The advantage of bringing the knowledge of practitioners and researchers into synergy offers HUGE benefits. 

  • Offer grants for research partnerships to solve specific problems for our members.  For example, we need metrics that better quantify the value of technical communication in the workplace.  (This is achievable folks.) Ph.D. researchers know how to conduct research that produces valid, reliable metrics that organizations will pay attention to.  Practitioners know the workplace.  Offer several grants that require collaboration of the two and produce valid, reliable metrics.
Support our chapters and SIGs with researcher/practitioner teams.  We can research what is most needed within communities.  With this data, we can effectively assign support.  
The external grant and publication model is very important in universities.  The study results are very important in the workplace and chapters.  Everyone wins, and this model is sustainable.
Goal: Build collaborations internationally.

Why: STC has become very US Centric.  A technical communication organization the scope of STC must identify with the global market.

  • Recruit multiple STC members (as part of a global task force) to report on the state of technical communication in specific areas of the world.  Support these task force members in attending international events as ambassadors of the Society and bringing ideas back to the Board.  For example, STC India hosts an annual conference that last year attracted over 200 attendees.  At least one member of STC leadership should be in attendance.
  • Establish “sibling” relationships between STC chapters in the U.S. and communities abroad.  This old “sister” model has worked very well for other entities such as cities.  We should promote global synergies in the same way, which will invigorate both chapters and global communities.  Chapter members would gain member participation and increase their cultural competence among many other advantages.
Goal: Build better communication between STC staff and membership.

Why: An “us and them” attitude exists to a significant degree between these groups of people.  We need an “us” attitude in order to be most effective. In a time when organizations of all kinds carry on active and continuous dialogue in order to reach their customer base, STC must do better. 

  • Introduce an editorial column to Intercom and a social media forum called the Change Report;  staff, Board members, and community leaders provide a brief change report each month and discuss.  For example, if there is a staffing change at STC central, we should see an introduction of the change but also a short description of why the change was made.  If a chapter is managing a change, they announce and explain.  This applies to significant changes of all kinds so that we can build a culture of collaboration and credibility. 
  • Schedule a monthly Meet Up where at least one representative from staff, Board, and communities meet to discuss a topic that is of importance to members.  This should remain informal but have a moderator to guide the conversation.
The above goals and objectives are achievable and transformative.  If I threw 1,000 ideas at you for initiatives in the coming years, I could not achieve them nor could I attend to business as a member of the Board.  However, with focus on the right goals and objectives, we can support and change STC for tomorrow.
Best wishes,
Pam Estes Brewer
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/pamestesbrewer
STC election page: https://www.stc.org/wiki/elections/2018-election-slate/pam-brewer/ 
Video candidate statement: http://bit.ly/pambrewer
Email: brewer_pe@mercer.edu

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