Read my interview with RIT alumnus Neil DuPaul on the Veracode Blog where we discuss how we’re increasing information security awareness at the Rochester Institute of Technology. What do you think of the cards?
Each year at the Rochester Institute of Technology we introduce the concepts of Digital Self Defense to incoming students. We’ve tried a variety of presentation types and venues, ranging from several sets of co-presenters talking with “smaller” groups of students to one presenter in front of the 2000+ students at our Gordon Field House.
We kicked off our activities this year at New Student Move-in Day with our table of resource materials and a guest appearance by Phishy. Phishy provides a visual reminder for students to watch out for phishing attempts. Quite a few students posed with Phishy for photos.
Our New Student Orientation activities will conclude on Saturday, Sept 1, as we deliver a series of Lightning Talks on the subject of Digital Self Defense. We’ll cover online reputation management, safer social networking, avoiding online identity theft, security requirements at RIT, and illegal file sharing.
Because we’ll have captionists and ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters, we’ve added 3 seconds to each slide. As in other Lightning Talks, the slides will advance automatically, every 18 seconds. I’m the only one of the presenters who’s done a Lightning Talk, and I’m looking forward to seeing how each presenter deals with the challenge of a very large (~2500) audience and a slide deck they don’t control.
Five presenters. Five different styles. Huge audience. Should be interesting.
Watch for my followup post!
This past fall we had the privilege of visiting Pont du Gard, a Roman bridge and aqueduct in Languedoc in the south of France. Although built primarily without mortar (except for the top course of blocks), Pont du Gard has endured for more than 2000 years, despite frequent spring floods.
The Pont du Gard aqueduct/bridge was built to provide clean water for the town of Nimes. Its builders understood the importance of building a structure that took into account the factors that would affect the bridge. They understood at least some of the pressures that would bear on that structure. They built the bridge accordingly. Its builders designed it to endure.
So, this blog is about communications. What does the Pont du Gard have to do with communications?
Much of my role as a technical communicator has been to build processes that enable the flow of good communication. I’ve had to factor in the context (pressures that will bear on the structure) in which I was building those processes. Those communications processes are the bridges (aqueducts) that I build. In distributed organizations, well built communications bridges are critical to the health of the organizations.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about bridge building. First, I’ll discuss my initial attempts at architecting communications processes for a Fortune 500 organization that had outsourced key support processes in the midst of a major software/hardware infrastructure transformation. Next, I’ll discuss communications processes I’ve built in my role as an information security practitioner in higher education. Finally, I’ll talk about my current work to build a sustainable communications bridge that enables clear communications between a central organization and its distributed communities, ensures the concerns of those distributed communities are heard, and facilitates best practice sharing among those communities.
- Pont Du Gard (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
The brilliant Hannah Morgan and I presented Bullet Proofing Your Career Online at the STC Rochester Spectrum Conference. We’ll be presenting again at the STC Technical Communications Summit in Rosemont, IL in May. You won’t be able to experience our incredibly witty repartee, but I’ve embedded the slides below.
It’s been a little less than two weeks since the Society for Technical Communication Summit in Sacramento ended. Summit was an intensive four day immersion in the multifaceted profession of technical communications. I wanted to share what I found really important about the event, before the memories fade. I’ll start unpacking my takeaways here and in future posts.
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to discuss what I’m unpacking and share what you unpacked when you got home by commenting on this post!
Here’s my Top Ten list of takeways:
- The strength (and pride) of STC lies in its communities. Over the last few years there have been questions about the value that geographic chapters provide in an era when people are increasingly connected online. The Pacesetter Awards show that innovation comes from the grassroots level, whether from a geographic chapter or SIG. Some of the communities have done outstanding work in building and documenting solutions that can be applied across STC. For example, the Carolina chapter broke new ground in providing webinars for their geographically diverse membership and in partnering with Southeastern Michigan and Rochester to co-deliver online content.
- Relationships between communities bear fruit. STC recognized several chapters and SIGs with Community Achievement Awards and Pacesetter Awards. What I found interesting about the communities receiving the awards was that key leaders of these communities consulted with, counseled, mentored, and exchanged ideas with each other. These awards aren’t a competition. The recipients found ways to build each other up during the year. My conversations with community leaders during the year sparked much of what the Rochester chapter accomplished and helped us move forward in unanticipated ways.
- STC will continue to move forward as it provides value, although with an increasingly new base. Although I believe membership is down slightly from last year, STC is operating in the black and is continuing to add new members. (Personally, I believe the tide has turned.) The launch of key initiatives such as certification and MySTC should have a continuing impact as we move forward.
- Twitter played (and will continue to play) a key role at Summit. Twitter was used in two chief ways at Summit: to tweet and retweet session content and to facilitate face-to-face networking opportunities. The Twitter stream using the #stc11 hashtag provided an easy way to find out what was happening. There were more than 5000 tweets associated with the #stc11 hashtag in less than a week. That’s a lot of communication.
- There are some really committed and capable people in and moving into community leadership. I’m very impressed with the earnestness and ability of the people I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with during Leadership Day and afterwards. I’ve only gotten to know the leadership of Toronto, Philadelphia, Carolina, and Southeastern Michigan at all well. What I’m seeing in those chapters is encouraging and demonstrates a desire to serve their members and to strengthen STC as a whole. They’re not in it for their own glory. They’re in it to make us better.
- Leadership Day provides a foundation of knowledge and, more importantly, connections for new community leaders. I can’t overstress the importance of Leadership Day for the new and current leaders. Last year, I found the sessions explaining the intricacies of community leadership for new leaders absolutely critical to moving our chapter forward. This year I was able to participate in the progressions where community leaders shared their insights for success (and their struggles), providing sparks for new ideas and solutions for overcoming common, but vexing issues we face. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the connections I made at Leadership Day last year became my chief contacts in discussing issues and opportunities at the community level.
- MySTC can play a key role in strengthening community. MySTC provides a social networking platform on which members (and invitees) can share ideas, “friend” each other, create discussion and task groups, share photos and videos, and CONNECT with other members. We’re still figuring out how to use it. It’s not perfect, but it’s really great to have an easy way to connect with members outside and inside our current communities. The innovators among us will jump in and determine ways for us to work collaboratively.
- The vote on student membership rights at the business meeting was profound. Student members of STC were never enfranchised to vote in international elections, although their rights varied at the community level. The business meeting saw discussion and a vote on a proposed amendment to give them the vote. The proponents for student voting rights spoke passionately when presenting their arguments for passage of the student voting amendment. Opponents, although fewer, were articulate in their defense of the status quo. The amendment required a two-thirds vote of the members present. The amendment passed handily and the atmosphere in the room was charged. I did not expect the feeling of accomplishment we had when the amendment was approved.
- Certification may help the profession, especially by providing credentials for technical communicators who do not have degrees that relate clearly to the profession. I have degrees in anthropology, church history, and am ABD on my PhD in early modern European history. This is not obvious preparation for a career in technical communications. I was concerned about credentials so that I could get past initial screenings. Certification can provide credentials for those of us who have “non-standard” educational backgrounds.
- The content of the sessions at Summit was great. Isn’t it interesting that the content at Summit was the last thing I listed in my top ten? I enjoyed (and learned something in) almost all of the sessions I attended. However, for me the chief benefit of the conference was establishing and strengthening connections. These people are my techcomm tribe. They get it.
- Twitter Use at #STC11 Summit (benwoelk.wordpress.com)
- Why Professional Conferences Matter (benwoelk.wordpress.com)
- Determining our Value Proposition (benwoelk.wordpress.com)
- STC Rochester Named Community of Excellence (stc-rochester.org)
Rob Cottingham had done an earlier cartoon on the subject as well:
Does any of this matter to you?
I can only wonder what the next cartoon will be.
Last year, I kicked off this blog by posting about Twitter Use at the #STC10 Summit in Dallas. I thought it would be interesting to look at Twitter use at #STC11 as well.
I’ve only analyzed results from May 13-21, 2011. However, use of the #STC11 hashtag occurred for months preceding this year’s Summit conference. (This is a departure from last year, when the use of tweets with the #STC10 hashtag started much later.) Because my Google RSS feed for #stc11 was unable to handle the volume of tweets this year, I relied on three sources for this post:
- Karen Mardahl’s Archive of #stc11
- Rick Sapir’s TwapperKeeper feeds from 5/16-5/18
- The CoveritLive feed at http://summit.stc.org
Graphical Portrayals of #STC11 Information
Here’s a Wordle of the tweets containing the hashtag #stc11 from 5/13 through 5/21/11. If you’re unfamiliar with Wordle, it produces a wordcloud where the frequency of word usage determines the size of the words in the graphic.
Top Twelve Twitter Handles (% Total Tweets)
- 9.55 % by torridence (Roger R.)
- 8.23% by techcom (Tony Chung)
- 7.88% by sushiblu (Jamie Gillenwater)
- 7.77% by bwoelk (Ben Woelk)
- 5.28% bytechcommdood (Bill Swallow)
- 4.89% by mojoguzzi (Joe Sokohl)
- 4.5% by rjhoughton (Rachel Houghton)
- 4.47% by stc_rochester (STC Rochester)
- 4.43% by RayGallon (Ray Gallon)
- 4.31% by willsansbury (Will Sansbury)
- 4.31% by afox98 (Alyssa Fox)
- 3.42% by ninjawritermama (Sarah Baca)
Selected Keywords (Occurrences)
Again, contrary to some expectations, “beer” was not the most commonly used word in the tweets appearing only 13 times. (This was the same number of occurences as #stc10, but a much lower frequency.)
I’m not sure if there’s any correlation, but “karaoke” also appeared 14 times. The last two years have seen almost equal occurrences of beer and karaoke. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Just like last year, Twitter provided a sense of community and a “conference within a conference.” Most tweets were positive, implying that many of the Twitter users enjoyed the conference.
I spent much of the conference meeting F2F with Tweeps gained from #stc10. If you’re not using Twitter at conference, I urge you to do so. You’ll find that it will create a new sense of comraderie with other Tweeters, and besides, that’s where all of the really cool STC people hang out!
I’ve curated the tweets into a 341-page MSWord document. This “raw” data is available upon request.
What are your thoughts and observations?
Vanessa Wilburn put together a more detailed analysis of the Twitter usage at #STC10. Her work focuses on the subject matter of the tweets. She found that after removing the “chitchat,” the twitter streams paralleled the key topics of the conference and that many of the tweets relayed content from or observations about specific sessions.