Boston Broadside
March/April 2002
Vol. 59,  No. 4
    Newsletter of the Boston Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication


Copyright © STC Boston 2002

STC Elections

Make a Difference! Vote for Your Future!

By Andrea L. Ames
STC Assistant to the President for Recognition,
Candidate for STC Second Vice President

In response to inquiries and requests from several chapters' leaders for an article about my candidacy for the STC Second Vice President, I'd like to share my thoughts with you about our futureyours, mine, the STC's, and the future of the technical communication industry as a wholeand why I want to continue to serve you on the STC Board of Directors for the next four years. As you might know, the candidate elected to the office of Second Vice President serves for one year in that position and then serves one year each as First Vice President, President, and Immediate Past President. This is an important vote, and I hope this article enables you to make an informed decision when you cast your ballot.

The Vision

If elected, I will work for the next four years to raise our strategic valueboth as individuals and as an industryto the organizations for which we work.

My vision for the industry is one in which:

  • Our main goal is to ensure users' successnot necessarily to write documentation or to coerce our users to read documentation.
  • We design and develop information to enable users to use productsnot to fill in for the deficiencies in product design.
In other words, in this vision of the future, we will no longer define ourselves by the information products (manuals, help, etc.) that we deliver, nor by the tools that we use to develop them. Instead, our employers will recognize the value that we bring to the products and information that we design and develop. Think about it: The real value we bring is not the documents that we develop but our users' increased success! My goal is to work to help the organizations in and with which we work to understand this and to enable them to get the most value from us.

As I've traveled around the country speaking with members, I've met many of you who share this vision. From my 17+ years of experience in the industry, my vast network of associates, and the strategic work that I've done with various kinds of organizations, I'm convinced that this is the right vision. The question remains: How will it happen?

The Implementation

The move toward this vision has already begun, primarily through the STC. As our new mission statement proclaims, we are certainly "designing the future of technical communication." The STC is one of the most valuable and powerful tools that we have, and our work in the STC is one of the most important contributions that we can make to our own careers. The power of many, the visibility of a large and well-respected professional organization, and our vision and leadership are the ingredients that will change the face of our industry.

To do this, I want to work with the Society, as I have during my 15-year STC career, to enable members of our industry to become leaders and to be recognized for that leadershipparticularly within our organizations and among our employers' and clients' industries. Working with the Board of Directors, committee managers, and chapter leaders, I can support and maintain important programssuch as branding and governancethat are already working to move us in this direction. I can also work with other leaders to devise new initiatives to raise the visibility of the STC and of our industry, as well as help our employers and clients further recognize our value.

Why Me?

Not one to sit around and wait for someone else to take the lead, I've spent most of the past four to five years working to begin changing our industry to fit my vision. In my own career, I have focused on learning and developing skills, technologies, and tools to design and develop information for products and user experiences, rather than documentation deliverables. I am a technical communicator specializing in audience analysis, information and interaction design for product-user interfaces and online assistance, usability, and user-centered product and information design and development process.

To assist others in the effort to move toward the future, I've acted as a mentor, teacher, and educational certificate coordinator to:

  • Design programs and courses around these skills and technologies.
  • Impart to my students various strategies and problem-solving skills so that they can participate in this new world.
  • Guide those asking for assistance to develop their careers in similar directions.

I've spoken at many STC chapter meetings, regional conferences, and annual conferences, and have met many of youthe members of our industry. My presentations are aimed toward helping you make career development choices that increase your value to the industry and to your employers and clients. I've encouraged you to:

  • Think outside the traditional documentation box.
  • Evangelize usability and user-centered design and development techniques within your organization.
  • Participate in your organization's design and development process at a strategic level.

I used my term as Director-Sponsor (1998-2001) to learn as much about you and the Society as possible. Understanding how our organization works enables me to influence the STC's direction and effect change. I've also participated very actively in two very important Society initiatives: Integrated branding and Governance.

The results of these programs are already permeating the Society and changing the way we do business. From the Board of Directors to the Society Office to Society-level committees to chapters to members, everyone will feel the impact of these very positive changes.

I've also served the Society extensively in other international-level positions and at the regional, local and chapter levels. Details follow in "About Andrea: Andrea's STC Awards and Service."

And although I've spent a lot of time talking to members of the profession, I also draw from extensive experience of my own in the corporate world, academia, and governmentboth as a direct employee and as a consultant.

I hope you'll consider the future of your career and what you would like from your professional organization. Then I urge you to vote. Your vote does make a difference!

About Andrea

Andrea L. Ames, M.S., is a technical communicator specializing in user-centered product interface and online information architecture and design, interaction design, and usability. She has more than 17 years of experience designing, developing, and producing usable technical and scientific information for products, software user interfaces, multimedia and online information systems, and print documentation. Andrea is a Senior Information Developer at IBM Corporation, where she leads information development for data management products. She is a member of the STC international Board of Directors; coordinator for two University of California Extension technical communication certificates; and a published author and freelance writer. She teaches at the university level and speaks internationally at professional conferences.

Andrea's STC Awards and Service

Honors and awards

  • Distinguished Chapter Service Award, 1996
  • Distinguished Technical Communication, STC Newsletter Competition, for News & Views, Metro Philadelphia (formerly Delaware Valley) newsletter, 1988-89
  • Award of Achievement, STC PR Competition, 1995-6
  • Award of Excellence, Northern California Technical Communication Competition, for VRML Sourcebook, 2nd ed., 1997
  • Award of Merit, Northern California Technical Communication Competition, for VRML Sourcebook, 1995
  • Apex Award of Achievement, Region 8 Web site, 2000
  • Full-time assistantship, Drexel University, 1989-90
  • Member, Golden Key National Honor Society
  • Member, Sigma Tau Chi (STX), STC's National Honor Society, since 1989

Society-level participation

  • Assistant to the President for Recognition 2001-02
  • Manager, Recognition Advisory Committee 2001-02
  • Manager, Society Bylaws Committee 2000-01
  • Member, Communication Advisory Committee 2000-01
  • Director-Sponsor, Region 8 1998-2001
  • Best Of Show Judge, International Online Communication Competition 2001-02
  • Judge, International Online Communication Competition 1998-2000
  • Manager, STC Newsletter Competition 1995-98
  • Presenter, STC Annual Conference 1995-98, 2001-02
  • Judge, Chapter Newsletter Competition 1992-93 and 1994-95
  • SIG member: Emerging Technologies, Information Design, Management, Marketing Communication, Online Information, Quality, Scientific Communication, Usability, Visual Design
  • Peer reviewer, Technical Communication

Regional/local participation

  • Presenter, New Zealand chapter (joint with NZTWA) conference 2001
  • Presenter, Region 7 Conference 2001
  • Presenter, Writer in the Workplace Conference 1997, 2001 (keynote)
  • Presenter, Region 5 Conference 2000-01
  • Presenter, Region 6 Conference 2000
  • Lead judge, Northern California Technical Communication Competition 1992-93 and 1996-97
  • Presenter, Region 8 Conference 1996, 2000 (Region 7-8 joint conference), 2001
  • Manager, Region 8 Conference Public Relations 1994

Chapter-level participation

  • Presenter, Washington, D.C. chapter 2002
  • Presenter, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Lone Star, Houston, Willamette Valley, Orange County, San Luis Obispo/Cal Poly student, Canada West Coast, Inland Empire, Australia, New Zealand, Sacramento chapters 2001
  • Mentor, Silicon Valley chapter 1998-2002
  • President, Silicon Valley chapter 1997-98, 2002
  • Director of Nominations, Silicon Valley chapter 1997
  • Presenter, Houston, Lone Star, Phoenix, Puget Sound, Tokyo chapters 2000
  • Presenter, Willamette Valley chapter 1997, 2000
  • Presenter, All Region 8 chapters 1998-2001
  • Presenter, Aloha, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley chapters 1996
  • Columnist, Signature, San Diego chapter newsletter 1994-95
  • Vice President for Public Relations, San Diego chapter 1994-95
  • Manager, Silicon Valley chapter Public Relations Committee 1992-94
  • Founder and President/Newsletter Editor, Philadelphia student chapter 1989-90
  • Newsletter Editor, Delaware Valley chapter 1987-89

Andrea Ames can be reached at . You can also visit her Web site ( for postings of recent chapter-meeting presentations and other information.