Editorial November/December 2020

A Note from the Editor

When Scott Abel approached me in 2019 about covering the “information-enabled enterprise” as an Intercom issue theme, I wasn’t sure where the focus would end up. I’m personally very excited about, and invested in, the concept of information-enabled enterprises—my concept, my definition, and my vision of what that phrase means. I have no illusions that my definition is everyone’s definition.

The concept comprises a broad and deep collection of ideas held by an eclectic community, including some who would likely disagree vehemently that technical writers have anything to do with successfully implementing those ideas. I admit, in the beginning I had some doubts about the concept as an Intercom issue theme.

Because I’ve seen—and personally been a part of—Scott’s content curation and orchestration magic in the past through Content Wrangler productions, I suspended disbelief and trusted him to bring it. And bring it, he did.

When I read the articles Scott sent me, I experienced varying degrees of curiosity, wonder, excitement, and validation. I agreed more with some ideas than others. I even changed my mind about some things. All in all, the experience was just as I would expect one defined by Scott to be: An exhilarating ride through both known and new ideas, discussed in new ways, presented in an unfolding story, and resulting in deep thought, new perspectives, and entertaining learning.

I’m not going to toss out any spoilers. You need to buckle in and enjoy the ride for yourself to get the maximum effect. I’m just going to introduce you to Scott and the issue beyond the features.

Who Is Scott Abel?

Given Scott’s reputation, I wonder if much introduction is necessary, and his LinkedIn profile describes his many achievements. Instead of discussing all of the things that Scott is—in Co-Active coaching parlance—do-ing, I’ll try to describe who Scott is be-ing, at least in my experience. I’ve known Scott for a couple of decades. In my experience, he is the consummate curator, connector, and go-giver.

He is endlessly curious about people (especially content people), the world, and how things work. His deep desire to learn causes him to collect and curate a lot of stuff.

His brain is wired to connect everything that he’s curated, including people and ideas. If you’ve found yourself inside his sphere of influence, you have likely felt the natural, organic drive behind that curation and connection.

Most striking, though, is Scott’s go-giver generosity. Many of the accomplishments listed in his LinkedIn profile are gifts to the technical communication community—given without what we would likely think of as traditional compensation: His webinar show, his conference presentations, his column in Intercom, and the time and effort he spent on this issue. Yes, he is getting visibility, but from my personal conversations with him and the generosity with which he has shared ideas and offered support, that does not seem to be his primary motivation. He cares deeply about the technical communication community. In this issue, we see one fruit of that passion, resulting from his natural tendencies for curation, connection, and giving.

Thank you, Scott, for bringing together this important issue, and to all of the feature authors who contributed their time and energy: Salim Ismail, Rahel Bailie, Sarah O’Keefe, Megan Gilhooly, Mark Lewis, Tim Ludwig, Kevin Nichols, Val Swisher, and Regina Preciado.

Also in This Issue

While I suspect you come to Intercom for the features, if you’re anything like me, you have a favorite column or two, as well. As always, we have a great column lineup for you:

  • In Student Perspectives, Akshata Balghare shares a perspective on the risks—and our responsibilities—of communicating during crisis, using the current COVID-19 pandemic as a case in point, in “The Risks of Risk Communication During a Pandemic.”
  • Michelle Corbin tackles another timely topic—burnout—in Editing Matters, providing thoughts and tips for taking care of yourself in “When You’re Weary: Avoiding Editing Burnout”—an important message as we approach the end of a year in this pandemic and face the uncertain timing of “a light at the end of the tunnel.”
  • In The Academic Conversation, Tom Barker presents an example of, and makes a case for, the value of knowledge mobilization in “Connecting with Research: Knowledge Mobilization and Social Media”—an interesting contribution to the information enablement discussion around this issue’s theme.
  • Directly contributing to this issue’s theme, Cruce Saunders’ Content Technologies column tackles the sweeping topic of the content services organization, including what it is and its role in intelligent content and information enablement, in “The Content Services Organization: Powering the Information-Enabled Enterprise.”

Also in this issue is a heart-felt article by Linda Oestreich and De Murr to memorialize Sherri Smith (27 October 1944–9 September 2020), STC Fellow and beloved leader from STC Houston. Thank you, Linda and De. We will miss you, Sherri.

Many enterprises have embraced information enablement, but the vast majority are not there, yet. I encourage you to dig into this issue and consider how you and your team can use technical communication skills, processes, tools, and expertise to help your organization move forward in this critical area. As always, reach out to authors, columnists, and me to discuss!

Until next time: To your information-enabled success!

References

Burg, Bob, and John David Mann. 2015. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea. New York: Penguin Press.

Co-Active Training Institute. n.d. “What is Co-Active?” Accessed 18 January 2021. https://coactive.com/about/what-is-coactive/.

Scott Abel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottabel/.

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