Presentation on theme: "STC, Pittsburgh, and technical writing Then and Now Janis Ramey."— Presentation transcript:
STC, Pittsburgh, and technical writing Then and Now Janis Ramey
Pittsburgh then –60s & 70s Nuclear Metals Chemicals Engineering
Pittsburgh now … Electronics Software Financial Medical Environmental
Employers then … Large corporations (Westinghouse, USSteel, etc.) Large government agencies (Department of Energy) now … Startups and small companies
Research then … Big research centers (Gulf, Westinghouse, Alcoa, Mellon Institute, Bureau of Mines, US Steel, Crucible, etc.) and now … Very few research centers or much smaller
Corporate locations then … Downtown was for the movers and shakers, suburbs for nerdy engineers. and now … More corporate headquarters are in industrial parks along with the nerds.
STC Pittsburgh chapter then … 40 to 80 members and now … About 192 members (down from about 220 a year ago)
STC Pittsburgh then … Mostly men, mostly in their 40s and 50s and now … Majority are women in their late 20s to mid 40s
STC worldwide then … about 5000 members 20 years ago and now … 22,222 members worldwide
Job stability then … STC members were typically established in their careers and settled in long-time positions and now … Typically move from company to company and sometimes to free-lancing
Technical writers have changed Skilled communicators Not subject matter experts Write about today's technologies Better prepared More willing to learn new technologies Much more tool oriented
Technical writers then … Most had engineering background. Most could be considered subject matter experts who happened to end up writing.
Technical writers now … Most have communications background. Although many still come from technical fields such as computer science, engineering, or medicine.
Editing then … Some STC members edited reports, technical papers, and technical books. Now… Not many STC members are editors.
Publications depts -- 60s & 70s Most STC members were publications department managers (especially from Westinghouse). And the men who worked for them.
Publications departments then… Typically included Managers Assistants Writers Editors Proofreaders Layout and graphic artists Drafters As well as … Typists (later word processing centers) Reproduction centers Photo studios Genographics (slide making machines) Secretaries and clerks
Few pubs departments now … Most writers work in very small groups Are dispersed into engineering or programming departments Or are completely independent
Now the writers do it all Including troubleshooting software
Production then … Writers seldom did any production work other than – Type a draft manuscript (if they could type at all) Proofread galleys or typescripts produced by someone else
Production now … Writers now – write type edit proofread create layouts insert graphics As well as – Program in HTML and JAVA Design interfaces Convert files Attach help files to applications Produce CDs, webpages, and other multimedia products
Graphics then … Layout artists worked at drafting tables pasting text and graphics.
Graphics now … Writers often produce their own graphics – Flowcharts Drawings Photographs Data displays Screen images Even AutoCAD drawings
Publishing then … In the 1960s and 70s, a production manager took care of publishing the work. End products limited to print media and video
Publishing now may mean – Sending an electronic file to a pre-press company for film Overseeing the printing process Making sure the document works on a company intranet Creating an interactive CD Converting to online help Extracting text from a database using XML Or a host of other complicated distribution schemes
…and the writers do it all Usually without clerical help Usually as a lone writer
Then we produced (and continue to produce) Instructions Reference information Procedures Reports Proposals Technical papers Newsletters Magazine and journal articles Presentations Sales support materials Training materials
Today we also produce -- Websites Searches Databases Interactive Sound Video
And … Improvements in product design and packaging Therefore need less documentation Especially involved in improving computer interface design
And … On-line documentation (no printed book) On-line help
And … Interactive training materials (on CD or web using multimedia) Kiosks (e.g., events and hotel information in lobbies of hotels or medical information in hospital information centers)
And … Personalized information on demand Used car pricing on the web Financial records, billing, and accounts Information databases Medical diagnostic software Technical support organizations Pricing and ordering information delivered on CD, web, or kiosk