On Wednesday 17 October, a group of technical writers dialed in to share industry perspectives at a virtual Tech Comm Café. The join.me software worked well, with the invitation link and agenda arriving efficiently an hour before the event. A simple click brought us together, with the option of adding webcams or photos to add to the social experience. It is definitely an interesting way to connect, and allowed me — a tech writer from South Africa — to join the discussion.
The moderators welcomed the participants and initiated a round of introductions. Clearly we’re a well-mannered crowd — everyone was careful to avoid dominating the conversation. A text chat window allowed people to share URLs or add to the debate without interrupting the current speaker.
The discussion topic was favourite technical writing tools. For many participants, a core toolkit includes Google’s extensive range of online research and collaboration services: Google search, Google Docs, and Google Books. They save hours in the library and ensure absolute accuracy by making it easier to find original source material.
Recommended tools included:
The open discussion demonstrated that technical writing embraces many skills and disciplines, and that it’s important to stay connected. New technology is constantly being developed and by pooling our experience of the best tools, we can all work more efficiently to produce a best-practice, professional result.
The Tech Comm Café provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.
We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!
Dianne Volek is a consultant in corporate communication, and a specialist technical writer for clients in engineering and construction. She consults to several professional associations who publish research and set national standards for air quality, energy efficiency, and sustainability in the built environment.