President’s Column

It Belongs in a Museum

By: Timothy Esposito | STC Board President

Published in Intercom magazine |  September/October 2023

 

If you were able to attend the STC Summit this spring, hopefully you noticed the set of tables celebrating STC’s 70th anniversary, courtesy of Nicky Bleiel. The tables contained memorabilia from the past several decades, including printed materials, photographs, shirts, mugs, and pens. Perhaps the largest surprise was the 4’ long giant pencil celebrating the anniversary. This was an actual, functional pencil, which I confirmed by picking it up and writing with it, possibly defacing a relic for the 140th anniversary event since I see no way to sharpen it again.

While that pencil may not be the Holy Grail of technical communication, it does point to a heritage of technical communication that goes back thousands of years. In 2019, the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter arranged for a special tour and workshop at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Although fedoras and bull whips were not included, the museum let us hold ancient cuneiform clay tablets that were thousands of years old and try our hand at making our own tablets out of clay using chopsticks as a stylus. This experience helped to drive home the importance of technical communication; if it weren’t for those highly trained ancient scribes in Mesopotamia, we wouldn’t know about how business operated in the distant past. Spoilers: they had to pay taxes, too.

As we roll into the autumn in the northern hemisphere, signs begin to emerge that the year is wrapping up. Days get shorter, trees lose leaves, and everything is infused with “pumpkin spice”. While that may begin the end of the calendar year/modern society, STC’s year is just ramping up. Membership renewal begins. The STC awards committees generally have their application submission dates in the fall, such as Associate Fellows and Fellows. For many communities their programming year kicks off. I urge you to take a step back and look at the offerings in the calendar on http://www.stc.org where many communities post invites to the online events, and consider attending, even if you aren’t in that community. Take the plunge and learn about that SIG you’re not in or attend an online event in a geographically distant chapter to reconnect with old friends or make new ones. STC offers many unique networking opportunities, and as a member, you should take advantage of that. Similarly, if your community is hosting a virtual event, make certain to post it on the STC calendar. While X never marks the spot, the STC calendar might help you find a spot where you belong.

As for the giant pencil, I considered “acquiring it for archival purposes” when the conference was breaking down the displays, but decided against it since it belongs to the entire Society. That, and it wouldn’t fit in my luggage or get through airport security. What takeaways have you acquired from STC this year? What would you like other members to take away from STC? Let us know via cuneiform clay tablet, carrier pigeon, or by inscribing a message to board@stc.org.

 

Timothy Esposito (tmesposit.stc@gmail.com) is the 2023-24 president of STC. His ongoing column will keep you updated on STC’s direction and be filled with outdated cultural references such as https://www.lucasfilm.com/news/indiana-jones-quotes/.

 

The President’s Column, written by STC’s board president, is published in Intercom, STC’s magazine for members. Email stc@stc.org to connect with STC.

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