SXSW Conference Versus STC Summit: Anne Gentle and Janet Swisher at the STC Summit, #stc10

How does the South by Southwest Interactive conference (SXSW) compare with the STC Summit? Are technical communicators behind the times when it comes to web trends and interactive media? I asked Anne Gentle and Janet Swisher, two Austin locals who have attended SXSW, to compare SXSW with the STC Summit. We recorded this video at the STC Summit in Dallas.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm primarily interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication (video tutorials, illustrations), findability (organization, information architecture), API documentation (code examples, programming), and web publishing (web platforms, interactivity) -- pretty much everything related to technical writing. If you're trying to keep up to date about the field of technical communication, subscribe to my blog either by RSS, email, or another method. To learn more about me, see my About page. You can also contact me if you have questions.

5 thoughts on “SXSW Conference Versus STC Summit: Anne Gentle and Janet Swisher at the STC Summit, #stc10

  1. Louellen Coker

    Tom, thanks for this podcast about a pertinent subject. (Anne & Janet, thanks for great presentations at the STC Summit!) I think you’re hitting on an area that technical communicators have and are overlooking. As the world moves rapidly to the interactive web, it’s important for us to stay abreast of this facet of our industry that is changing at an exponential rate. There was a great deal of good information shared at the Summit, but I was especially appreciative of the speakers who moved beyond “Basics 101″ to a “Basics 102″ level on this topic. And as the needs of technical communicators evolve, I’m looking forward to the evolution of the STC Summit.

    1. Tom Johnson

      Thanks Louellen. I agree that this is an area many technical communicators are overlooking. In one of the sessions I attended, it was a web 101 kind of topic, but many technical communicators were taking notes and asking questions as if the topic were entirely new to them. That experience and others gave me the impression that many technical communicators are behind the times when it comes to web content. Not all, of course. Many are extremely web savvy. But as a whole, yeah, it seemed a bit odd to me. It made me wonder whether I’d have a better learning experience at SXSW.

  2. Beryl Gray

    I found this topic very on point. It characterizes the viewpoint differences between myself and my son-in-law regarding how we view and approach documentation. While I create documents that as some point are viewed with a browser, he has never created content that was primarily intended for a page (either paper or PDF.)

    And the subtitles on the YouTube video were halucinatory!

    1. Tom Johnson

      Beryl, interesting comparison. What kind of content does your son-in-law produce? I agree that the printed paradigm is going out the window with the younger generation. But in my experience, they don’t necessarily want to sit through videos either. They want to figure it all out from the UI alone.

  3. Beryl Gray

    He is currently between contracts, but his first writing gig was producing on-line help for a software product that runs pre-press functions (ironically).

    While I currently produce content that is dual purposed (manuals and context-sensitive help files), I have for almost 30 years watched the industry (including myself) slowly try to adapt to the difference between page and screen. (This is evidenced by my sentence construction.)

    Todd, however, doesn’t _think_ in pages and page counts. He is much more comfortable with chunky, topic-oriented units. He is also much more adept with much of the more telegraphic social networking tools.

    What’s great is when we can provide a resource and encouragement for each other.

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