Editorial March/April 2024

A Note from the Editor

Baehr Headshot

By Dr. Craig Baehr | Intercom Executive Editor

Our March/April 2024 issue focuses on the use of AI tools in technical communication practices, processes, and products. While the latest iteration of AI tools can help us generate new ideas, useful content, and design concepts, technical communicators are uniquely positioned to help workplaces adapt to using generative AI in creating useful documentation and products. In particular, our unique skill sets, such as content strategy, user experience design, technical editing, information design, content reuse, and others, will be essential in developing human-centered products and information experiences using generative AI tools and applications.

To help bettter understand the implications and practicalities of integrating AI into technical communication work products and processes, this issue provides both industry and academic applied perspectives through a series of features. Saul Carliner and Samira Karim discuss how AI tools, such as ChatGPT, represent an evolution and increasing trend of AI tool use in the work of technical communicators. Daniel Hocutt and Ann Hill Duin explore how these trends blur the boundaries between technical communicator, problem solving and rhetorical intent in working with generative AI. Katherine Munroe provides a case study on working with ChatGPT in VBA Word macro development and shares some useful principles and lessons learned.

Ryan Boettger explains the importance of “prompt engineering” in creating effective transactions between technical communicator and the system (or tool) to facilitate more useful output. Susan Lang discusses several implications for AI use in academic settings, from program design to the curricular core competencies. Andrea Beaudin further explores some of these implications at a course syllabus and assignment prompt level, providing some interesting insights on where AI can be most useful in instructional design and training settings. And both of our featured columns, The Academic Conversation, by Thomas Barker, and Meet the Change Agents, by Scott Abel, focus on the evolution of AI. In our Spotlight feature, we learn more about STC member Xiaoli Li’s global education journey in becoming a successful technical communicator.

This month’s issue also features the final President’s Letter from Tim Esposito, STC President, who has served us well over the changes of the past year. We look forward to the inaugural President’s Letter from Liz Herman in our next issue as she assumes the role of STC President.