As I thought about how to go about doing that, it occured to me that many of our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are really focal points for larger professions. Our SIGs, in those cases, focus on the technical communication application. For example, Usability and User Experience is a large profession outside of technical communication. Our Usability and UX SIG focuses on the technical communication specific applications of that field as indicated by their mission description: "The Usability & User Experience SIG focuses on issues related to the usability and usability assessment of technical communication..."
So SIGs are like areas where outside professions insert specialized instances of their expertise into our profession. But what if we could reverse that gateway?
Our SIGs could be an excellent outreach channel to market our specialized knowledge into those other professions.
For example, my "official" professional education is in instructional design and technology. As I was getting my PhD in that field, I found a great formula for getting published. I would specialize ID topics for technical communication, and then I would specialize technical communication topics for ID. Instructional designers are pretty smart folks, but you know, they don't know a lot about writing manuals! Look at the raw .doc file that a "classically trained" ID person does and you will not find a style tag anywhere in it. And what ends up in headers and footers is any body's guess. So I was able to use my technical communication expertise and spin it to meet what I knew their needs were, i.e., how to design and develop student manuals.
Our SIGs are a great opportunity for us to do the same as a Society. Look at the list of the current STC SIGs:
- Canadian Issues
- Consulting and Independent Contracting
- Content Strategy
- Emerging Technologies
- Environmental, Safety, and Health Communication
- Illustrators and Visual Designers
- Information Design and Architecture
- Instructional Design & Learning
- International Technical Communication
- Lone Writer
- Marketing Communication
- Policies and Procedures
- Quality and Process Improvement
- Scientific Communication
- Single Sourcing
- Technical Editing
- Usability & User Experience
So I'd like SIG folks to start thinking about what it is about technical communication that could be of value to the professions at large your SIGs represent. How can we reverse the star gate and insert ourselves into their worlds? Specifically, what are the professions and what would be good topics?