Friday, June 19, 2009

How not to update your look and feel

Mike Hughes, STC 1VP not afraid to embrace new technologies

One of the themes that keeps coming at me as an officer of STC is that STC needs to modernize its image so that it has more appeal to the upcoming generation of technical communicators. Our demographics certainly show that we have to increase our appeal to a younger segment of the industry.

It reminds me of when I was speaking at a CDC conference on healthcare communication and my topic was Web usability. Someone in the audience asked the question, "I'm designing a Website for young African-American males, what advice can you give me?" My reply was "Don't take advice from a fifty year old white guy."

Good advice then, and I'm in a similar dilemma now (only ten years older). I need to recruit people whose skills I really can't judge, and I need to direct work I'm not situated to evaluate. I just have this amusing vision of me and my peers among the board and senior staff (albeit with some exceptions) sitting around saying, "Yeah, this is the stuff that young people want."

The best advice I can come up with is "Use the Force, Luke." Seriously, I need to include younger folks I trust at a gut level who seem to have a good reputation among the demographic I'm trying to reach, and then suspend my own "But that's not how I would do it" reflex.

In fact, it might be a good idea to reject any proposal I like. {sigh}


Al Hood said...

There are many others in our profession who are you the same boat. Some we both know. Only most of them don't recognize it.

Love the picture. I could see you as the guy in the picture!

David Farbey said...

You sum up the dilemma facing STC leadership very nicely, Mike. One point in your favour is that you recognise that it is a dilemma. That's actually a big first step. Plenty of us oldies are right behind you.

Unknown said...

Correction to David. Oldies who use mobile technologies are called "moldies"..... ;)

Great picture, Mike!

techcommdood said...

Well-said, Mike!

Gordon said...

So what age range are you talking?

(yes, I'm hoping I'm still classed as 'young')

Michael Hughes said...

Here's the test, Gordon. If you know what word to Google to find more art like the one at the beginning of this blog, you're still young enough.

Michael Hughes said...

BTW, that word would be "steampunk"