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Publications > Dateline Houston > October 2002 > Chapter News

Volume 42, Issue 2

October 2002

Chapter News

October Program Meeting
Let’s Stop Writing Documentation and Start Working for the Users

JoAnn Hackos, President of Comtech Services, Inc., talks about changing the way we write for our users.

The shift to task-oriented documentation began at about the time the PC was introduced. Writers developing processes and teaching them to the rapidly growing group of technical communicators linked task-oriented information with the concept of “getting closer to the development life cycle.” They urged new writers in the computer industry and in other fields to focus on users’ tasks at the same time they worked to become fully integrated into the development process.

For 20 years, JoAnn and others have been urging technical communicators to get closer to the developers and to write task-oriented documentation. However, now she believes we must stop writing documentation as we know it, abandon the developers and their need to explain how everything works, and go to work for the users.

Please join us for this meeting, where you will have an opportunity to meet JoAnn, buy her latest book, and ask her to sign it! Send your questions to Cindy Pao at


Hilton Houston Westchase and Towers
9999 Westheimer Road


Tuesday, September 10


5:30 p.m. networking (hors d’oeuvres)
6:20 p.m. announcements
6:30 p.m. program


This month ten of STC’s SIGs will be represented at the tables.


$10 (members)
$13 (nonmembers)
$3 (student and unemployed members)
$6 (student non-members)


A drawing for various prizes is held at the end of each general meeting. Proceeds benefit the Marx Isaacs Student Scholarship Fund.

CIC-SIG: We’re Here to Help

by Kim Lee Shaw, Principal Owner, Words & Graphics, Inc.

If you work independently, the Consultants and Independent Contractors Special Interest Group

(CIC-SIG) can be great resource for you. The CIC-SIG is a group of STC Houston members who work on a freelance basis. Membership is free and open to any Houston-based STC member available for hiring as a consultant or contractor.

The SIG offers support, networking opportunities, and contract leads to members. And, the more members get involved, the better the CIC-SIG can serve us all. If you’re a freelancer and you’re not already a SIG member, please consider joining. You can find membership instructions on our Web page at

If you are a CIC-SIG member, here are a few ideas for increasing your participation and the getting more benefits from your membership:

  • Participate on the mailing list. If you have a question, a tip to share, or a job lead … or if you need professional commiseration, a group of peers is just a few clicks away in cyberspace. Over the years, we’ve helped each other with technical issues, client relations problems, insurance questions, and job opportunities—just to name a few topics. To post to the list, send your message to
  • Update your personal information on the CIC list. The CIC-SIG web site includes a searchable database of information on members, available to prospective clients seeking contractors and consultants.

    If you haven’t revised your listing recently—or if you don’t have a listing—log on to the online application form at
  • Talk to the CIC-SIG chairs. Kim Shaw and Vince Yokom want to hear from you! In recent months, many members have expressed interest in re-establishing our meetings and perhaps having monthly lunch get-togethers. If you have ideas for meetings or other activities, or if you can help with organizing CIC-SIG activities, please get in touch with Kim ( or Vince (

Judging Workshop and Entry Distribution

The Judging Workshop for the Houston Chapter 2002 Competitions will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 19th, at the Westchase Hilton and Towers, 9999 Westheimer. If you have agreed to be a judge, please attend and become familiar with the guidelines for judging communication and art entries. The workshop leader will be Nicole Wycislo. During the workshop you will also pick up entries from the Atlanta Chapter and judging packets, including evaluation forms and award summaries.

Also, remember, we ’re still in need of judges. If you’re not a judge but would like to be, please contact the following competition managers:

If you have any questions, please contact Deborah Crockett at 281-514-4641 or at

STC Employment Committee

by Gary Foster, Senior Technical Writer, Weatherford CiDRA

The Houston Chapter Employment Committee was created to help members find employment and advance their careers in technical communication. If you are one of these people, we are here to help.

Prior to each membership meeting (the second Tuesday of each month), we sponsor a get-together for people looking for employment. The get-together starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 6:30. We discuss what works well in interviews, give advice on resumes, and discuss the job market for the Houston and surrounding areas.

Our STC Employment web site is second to none. On the web site, you can see who’s looking for staff and who’s looking for work. We designed the web site so it is easy to post job openings and also post your particulars when looking for work. We have been fortunate this last year to have averaged at least two job postings per week.

January 11, 2003, has been reserved at the Westchase Hilton for the second annual Employment Share The Knowledge (STK) Seminar from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. As the time approaches and details become finalized, I will post more information. Even if you are not looking for employment at this time, visit our web site just to see what the job market is doing. My goal is to inform companies that when they need a technical communicator, they call one place—the STC.

From the Members

Editor’s Note: Your chapter leaders depend on your feedback to structure our program year and track member satisfaction. We recognize that your feedback is also a report card on the chapter’s direction and activity, so we’d like to share some of the program evaluation comments from our September 2002 program meeting. Keep in mind that your program evaluation comments are confidential, so we have not included names in this column.

What is the most valuable thing you gained from this presentation?

  • A sense of historical perspective
  • Learned the history
  • Historical info
  • More of a sense of history of tech writing
  • More knowledge re: STC history
  • Learned about history of STC
  • Perspective on the Chapter and Society
  • History of STC
  • Tech comm. history
  • Enjoyment of seeing good turnout
  • Insight to the STC organization
  • Knowledge
  • History
  • Insight to STC
  • How much fun STC is
  • History – we’re a profession poised for recognition
  • Laughter

What topics/speakers do you recommend for future presentations?

  • I liked having a motivational speaker and career coach in times past and would welcome such programs again.
  • Employment/salary
  • Future endeavors as TCs

Please send your letters to the editor through our web form at, or send them directly to

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P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434