This issue of Intercom is the technical communication version of the fantasy dinner party game. It brings together a group of industry legends whose “dinner conversation” is a crash course in the field’s history, significance, and future—and whose amazing careers are inspiring us.
The invited legends work in both industry and academia, and span many subject areas; including usability, plain language, information design, elearning, marketing communications, instructional design, structured content, experiential learning, and document design. They are the authors of popular technical communication books, and are frequently cited in the literature. Some are journal editors, bloggers, and TED speakers. A few have worked for U.S. Presidents. They have been awarded everything from fellowships to lifetime achievement awards to Emmys. Across the board, they are influential, prolific, visionary, and delightful.
Our guests are David Pogue, Saul Carliner, Ginny Redish, Karen Schriver, JoAnn Hackos, and “Madame Documentation” Suzanne Briet (Mme. Briet is no longer with us; her interview is an “imagined” one). We also invited past STC Summit keynotes to answer a few questions about the field—and Vinton Cerf, Jonathon Colman, Scott Berkun, Erin McKean, Nancy Duarte, Denise Jacobs, Felice Frankel, Simon Singh, and David Rose share their thoughts. My sincere thanks to all of them for their time, wisdom, and contributions.
Each living legend is interviewed by someone who has crossed paths with them professionally, personally, academically; sometimes all three. The interviewers themselves are a stellar group who have made their own contributions to the field as authors, speakers, consultants, academics, and STC leaders. My thanks to Phylise Banner, Hillary Hart, Alan Houser, Paul Mueller, and Tony Self for arranging and conducting these interviews. I’d also like to thank STC Intercom Editor Liz Pohland, who provided guidance and support every step of the way.
Enjoy the party!
PS. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it was difficult to choose the first round of legends for this issue; which admittedly is a great problem to have. Hopefully “Legends of Technical Communication” can become a biennial Intercom event.