Why Climb a Mountain?

1024 680 James Cameron

By David L. Caruso, MAPW
STC Senior Member and President, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter

STC’s annual conference has been known as the Summit for some time now, but I often wonder if people give the name a second thought. Conferences can be simply a gathering of members or like-minded practitioners to share information in both formal and social settings. However the Summit continues to differentiate itself from merely a conference or an expo for technical communicators, while also acknowledging that it exists in a universe where there are a plethora of learning and gathering options for those who work in technical communication and related fields. Which brings me back to the name. Now, more than ever, it is important that professional and technical communicators see the STC Summit as the apex event bringing together the best and brightest to share their knowledge in the sessions; the most relevant vendors and partners in our expo halls; and the most engaged audience of attendees to share in the common experience of being at the Summit.


Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine

Collaboration, sharing, and storytelling have emerged as relevant themes in technical communication because we know that if you do not master these techniques, it is quite difficult to get much done in the knowledge economy. Most serious climbers will tell you that they didn’t get to the top alone; they had help and support along the way. The people you work with and the people you tell your story to can all gain something from that experience, which may make their mountains just a little easier to ascend.

I have made life-long friends from attending, presenting, and volunteering at Summit. The people I have gotten to know because of my involvement with STC represent a vast array of knowledge, which I have tapped into whenever I find myself in need of an informed opinion. The strength and diversity of this network is one of the things I am most proud of in my professional life. It has also encouraged me to conduct myself in a similar fashion at work. I try to help others when I can. I share what I know or serve as a connector for people who should know each other, but may not have had the chance to meet yet.

There is an ever-increasing need to innovate our explanation, documentation, and marketing of complex things and ideas. There is also an expanding variety of ways to get that information into the minds of the people who need that information. Ginny Redish’s seminal article “Reading to Learn to Do” changed my life by making it clear that people seek to understand how to perform a task, which is why they are consuming the content generated by a technical communicator. With the advent of the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, clean energy, and whatever else the future has in store, I for one think the best view of tomorrow comes from the Summit. See you all in National Harbor!

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