A Note from the Editor

When Kit Brown-Hoekstra approached me to set up a meeting at the 2018 STC Summit to discuss our mutual interest in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), I was all in. As we explored possibilities for bringing this topic to the fore in the technical communication industry, my first thought was Intercom! After the very successful January-February 2018 issue on the Future of Technical Communication (guest-edited by Jack Molisani), I wanted to kick off the new year with a similar issue. The AR/VR topic seemed perfect, and Kit agreed!

As a too-early advocate of VR (Ames 1996), I mourned the lack of adoption of VRML (virtual reality modeling language) and related technologies to leverage 3D environments for learning and communicating technical subjects. I saw the impact advanced visualization, like VR, could have on communicating science to policy-makers and government funders while at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC)—one of the four U.S. National Science Foundation-funded hubs of the Internet at the dawn of the World Wide Web (remember when we used to capitalize all of that stuff?) in 1994. And I’ve been mooning over the possibilities ever since.

In this issue, past STC President and forward thinker (and good friend and travel buddy) Kit Brown-Hoekstra guest edits an outstanding issue on the many facets of augmented reality and virtual reality and their impact on our field, our jobs, and our capabilities. Kit is a consultant and owner of Comgenesis, working in the space between technical communication and localization to help companies build better processes and content so that they can effectively serve their customers, wherever they live and work. She is also a long-time leader in STC and sought-after speaker at many industry conferences, keeping herself in the vanguard of our field and sharing her knowledge generously.

Thank you to Kit for editing this informative issue, and to Ari Hoffman, Cruce Saunders, Dawn Armfield, Ann Hill Duin, Isabel Pedersen, Michael Humphrey, Kaden Strand, Myra Travin, and Elizabeth Losh for sharing their insights about AR/VR with Intercom readers.

In this issue, we begin a new column, “Content Engineering,” authored by one of our industry’s foremost content-engineering thought leaders, Cruce Saunders. Founder of [A], Cruce has long been a proponent of thinking in the right way about the intersection of content and technology, intelligent content, and how good content engineering can support delivering excellence in omnichannel experiences through well-structured content.

We’ve got some long-time favorite columns for you in this issue, as well:

  • Alan Porter addresses the issue’s theme by questioning the role content and content professionals have played, thus far, in the advancement of VR and AR.
  • Kirk St.Amant provides a great overview of how we process information—specifically the recognition portion of the process and how communicators can leverage that to create better content.

As always, don’t miss the Society Pages! Important member tidbits abound there!

While you’re reading, I hope you are inspired to have a juicy conversation about some of these topics and issues with a colleague—or many! Kit, the authors, and I would love to hear what you think of the issue and of the exciting—and perhaps a bit anxiety-inspiring—topics of augmented and virtual realities. Post something on your favorite social media platform and tag us!

Did you know that you can comment on the web version of any article on stc.org? Start or join a conversation! I’ll be looking for you!

— Andrea L. Ames



Ames, Andrea L., David Nadeau, and John Moreland. The 2.0 VRML Sourcebook, Second Edition. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.

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