Category Archives: Commentary

Jan. 29, 2012 Blumbers

Finding Love And Losing Memories

A friend of mine has died from Alzheimer’s disease. She and her husband were from two different countries yet they found each other at an American university. Unable to get legally married back East in the 1950s, they moved to Silicon Valley and built a life together. They helped many people.

The disease progressed slowly and painfully. I saw it in the photographs. If memories are all we have at the end, what if these are taken too? It was hardest on her husband who took care of her right up to the end. He said this is what the marriage vows mean when they say “in sickness and health.” He said if people stopped taking care of each other society would fall apart.

He searched the world for her and lost her in his arms.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 22, 2012 Blumbers

The Foxconn Price

I’ve just finished reading more bad news about Foxconn. How can you do business with a company that is driving people to suicide to make money? The lowest price turns out to be the highest price of all.

It makes you think twice about buying a smartphone. I have not bought one.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 9, 2012 Consumer Electronics Show Las Vegas

On January 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, the annual Consumer Electronics Show is a complete waste of time. Come see the poorly designed devices your grandmother will be asking you to fix next Christmas. They are still pushing over-priced, under-powered devices running on inadequate network infrastructure for exorbitant rates. Save your money and wait awhile. Happily leaving Las Vegas.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 8, 2012 Blumbers

The STC Ad You Will Not See

I belong to a lot of organizations. For an organization to  survive nowadays it should be flexible and inclusive. The key to success is to be open to different ideas, people and ways of doing things.

One of organizations I belong to is the Society For Technical Communication (STC). A few months ago I was invited to run for the Nominating Committee. When I saw who the other candidates were, I was happy. I knew these people and thought that any one of them would do a great job. No matter who won, the members would win too.

Three candidates gave testimonials that were used as banner ads on the STC website in a random rotation. Essentially these ads might appear as political ads for the candidates. The ads were temporarily pulled offline and all candidates were told that they could submit an ad.

I create banners all the time. I picked one of my aerial views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge with the tagline “Thanks to STC, I fly out of SFO.” I quickly submitted the ad.

It was rejected. The ad apparently must look the same as all the other ads. I had always thought that the way to get ads noticed was that they stand out.

I was told the ad must have your picture and your signature. I have an ugly mug, and I thought most people would prefer to see a my work versus my face. I also have to question the wisdom of putting your picture and your signature online. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

I asked if the ads could be pulled offline until after the election. They could not do that. Apparently there are only six testimonial ads and removing three ads would be too much.

I was saddened by the thought that out of six thousand STC members there were only six ads. Over the years I have known at least a thousand members who have gotten a job through STC. I know, I was often the employment manager who put up the ad. There should be thousands testimonials on the STC website and they should all be as different as our members.

So I am putting my testimonial ad on my own website. It does not conform to the rules, but it does to my heart… in San Francisco. :-)

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


I wanted to thank all the people at all the organizations I worked with this past year. I look forward to working with you again. Especially THE web guru, Doug Wray.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Otherwise Occupied

What can I say about the Occupy movement?

The Occupy protesters I met were ordinary people. It was a combination of unemployed workers, soldiers, artists and students. A lot of bad things happened to drive them into the streets to protest. They use to have families, jobs and houses. If they had occupations they would not be Occupiers. They were like you, and at the rate things are going, you will soon be like them.

Some Occupiers recommend the book “From Dictatorship To Democracy” by Gene Sharp. He thinks leaders only have the power that people give them. They also recommended the late Czech dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel, who said that “Every joke is a tiny revolution.”

They said you are just one paycheck, car accident or cancer cell away from them. Work toward a creating a world where that won’t happen.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Dec. 18, 2011 Blumbers

Tis The Season Later And Later

It is a week before Christmas in California and I have just turned on the furnace for the first time. Last year it was turned on at Thanksgiving and before that it was Halloween. Either my place is really well insulated or the weather is getting warmer. Oh well, guess I’ll hit the pool.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 4, 2011 Blumbers

Cloud Picture

When I started this latest incarnation of Blumbers six years ago,  people asked me why I chose a picture of clouds. I said at the time that most computing would be in the cloud. That day has arrived. It is time to contemplate a new picture.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 27, 2011 Blumbers

Bigger Picture

There is  an old saying that you should never own something you can’t carry. If it is three o’clock in the morning and you are carrying a big screen television in a dark parking lot, maybe you are watching way too much television.

Of course that old saying doesn’t explain the people out there waiting for new cell phones. There is always the question of whether you own something or it owns you.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 21, 2011 Tom Brokaw Commonwealth

On Monday, November 21, 2011 at the Santa Clara Convention Center Theatre, Tom Brokaw of NBC talked with Dan Ashley of ABC KGO talked about his new book “The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation about America.” Brokaw talked about the challenges facing Americans and thinks we have to face reality and make decisions quickly, before they are made for us.

The problems cannot be solved with the current political gridlock. The Right has a single goal of not paying taxes. The Left is trying to solve problems faced by everyone else, like food, jobs, education, and housing.

Of course, with the Right ending the American middle class, living in a McMansion with a three car garage and hoarding the world’s resources will end as well. It is quite likely the next generation will have a lower standard of living and probably rent rather than buy smaller homes.

According to the US Census Bureau, nearly half of all Americans and  a quarter of all children live in poverty. Poor, hungry children will not go to college. They may never graduate from high school. If we cannot prepare our children for a better future, we need to at least prepare them for a worse one.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 6, 2011 Blumbers

Bank Transfer Day

Several years ago I was an officer at a non-profit and our treasurer suggested we move our funds from a big bank to a federally insured credit union. She said it would help the local economy while getting a higher rate of return.  We followed her advice and were happy with the results.

Even if the banks are too big to fail, it does not mean the rest of us are too small to win. If you have any money, move it closer. Vote with your feet.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 30, 2011 Blumbers

Text Next To Be Exed?

With the introduction of Siri on Apple’s new iPhone, I wonder of we are seeing the death of text. The move that started with using a mouse instead of a keyboard has moved to touch screens and now voice commands.

For a long time technical communication was dedicated to observing a procedure and converting it to text because pictures were hard to reproduce. The user read the text and had to visualize the process. Desktop publishing made it easier to include pictures and now the web makes it easier to use video. I was at an IEEE event in Stanford and they said that soon 75 percent of web content would be video. If you want to explain something you will just post a video and show someone how to do it.

One hurdle will be building simultaneous voice translation apps. We are getting closer to Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide and Babelfish every day.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 23, 2011 Blumbers

Shadow Keeper ™

There is a sad part to what I do. When someone famous dies, I know somebody will call and ask if I have any pictures. Considering the sheer number of pictures I take, the odds are that I do.

My response depends on who it is. A news organization has to play by the usual rules, but for family members I try to find as many images of that person as I can and just send it to them. I know their pain. When I cover an event, I now try to take pictures of couples and family. I am happy to use their own cameras to get their picture taken together. I know that someday they will want these shadows that are all that is left of someone they loved.

I was at a college and saw a picture of a graduating class from a hundred years ago. Everyone in that picture was dead. All that was left of them was their picture, a shadow on the wall.

Some people say I take a lot of pictures. They don’t understand that I am trying to capture shadows before we become shadows as well.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 16, 2011 Blumbers

Follow The Leader

There has been a lot of talk about how Apple will continue without Steve Jobs. As John Gruber has said, Apple was his greatest invention. I think the organization he built will be fine. Good leaders attract followers. Great leaders attract more leaders. Succession is the mark of success.

If you are a leader having trouble finding someone to fill your shoes, there is something seriously wrong and I don’t think it is the shoes. (Enjoy the rain.)

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 9, 2011 Blumbers

This is a work of fiction in honor of Steve Jobs.

Boss In Trunk

By DJ Cline

My boss was in the trunk and I was running out of time.

It was not what you think. Somebody asked how I got my first Mac. It’s complicated but I think you’ll understand once you’ve heard the whole story.

The first summer out of high school the family taking care of me lost their farm. Not much future in farming. The old man had a heart attack and died and the old lady followed soon after. I was on my own and knew it.

I planned to work my way through college, looking for any job to pay the bills. The 1980s were not happy times in the Rust Belt. Factories were closing and lots of people were out of work. I managed to get a summer job at the Woodland Factory in a small midwestern city.

They made machine parts, bearings, lathes that sort of thing. It was a huge plant, with a couple of dirty old brick buildings with grimy windows filtering sunlight. I swept floors and made myself useful. They had a print shop run by nice old guy, Arthur Magnus. I learned how to build and run their four-color press. I even learned how to use their composing computer, a big Linotype.

That computer was in the back of the Admin building. Built in 1939, the structure was a yellow brick Art Deco building with lots of glass brick and curved walls. The lobby ceiling was a mural in the Social Realist style depicting big burly workers welding and grinding industrial equipment. Most of the secretaries had green metal desks in an open space, but the managers had big offices with wooden paneling.

I’d come in at night to use the computer, backing up projects on tape and running the job overnight. I’d see the managers in their offices arguing or sweating over something and knew that business wasn’t good. I wasn’t surprised that they laid-off a bunch of people that winter.

The next summer I got another job there, but it wasn’t a happy experience. The factory was closing and they were selling off the equipment a bit at a time. I was hired to take some of the equipment apart and put it in crates to be shipped somewhere. That winter the factory closed.

Hard to believe, but I worked there again the next summer. The company that bought the property wanted to develop the land the factory was on. Unfortunately the buildings had asbestos in them and it had to be removed. They contracted out to another company and they hired me to help because I knew my way around. They gave me a big ring of keys for every building in the complex as we got to work. It was hot and dirty work, sweating in those suits and wearing a mask, but it paid the bills.

That proved to be a bad summer for everybody. The company that tried to develop the property couldn’t pay for all the clean up and went out of business. My last paycheck bounced. That winter the apartment building I was living in was condemned and I couldn’t find another place. I was packing up my gear and then found that big ring of keys I’d forgot to turn back in at the end of the summer. Frankly, there was no one to turn the keys over to.

I should say that I travel light. Most of my life I’d traveled from home to home with most of my possessions in one suitcase. I try to make do with what I can find. The most expensive thing I owned at that time was my car. It was a used 1970 Ford Pinto hatchback.

Go ahead and laugh, but it was paid for, about $150. It started in the coldest weather and used very little gas. You lifted up the hood and saw a sewing machine-sized engine and not much else. It was so simple you could fix it with used parts. The reason I got it so cheap was that it had been hit in the rear and Pintos were known for exploding when hit that way.

I figured the odds were good that it wouldn’t be hit twice and spent my money on extravagant things like tuition and peanut butter.

So I packed up my gear and drove my car through the abandoned factory gates on a cold December day. I parked in the president’s old space, grabbed my gear and sleeping bag and walked in the front door.

All the furniture was still there, like they were expecting to come back. Filing cabinets, photocopiers, and cafeteria, everything in place. Even the power was still on, though I don’t know who paid the bills. When a whole society and way of life collapses, little details like checking the meter get lost.

I moved into the president’s office because it had a small bedroom with a full bathroom. Lord knows why he needed that. I guess upper management work some long hours. Of course there are some things about management I prefer not to know.

For me this was living pretty high on the hog. Not many college students had unlimited access to electric typewriters and copying machines. My term papers were printed out in the president’s heavy bond paper, giving them weight and an air of respect.

I knew my situation, like all situations, was temporary. I had finished my shower one morning and was toweling myself off when Arthur Magnus walked into the bedroom. Art was the guy who taught me how to use the composing computer. I thought he had been let go along with everybody else.

“What are you doing here?”Art asked. He seemed mildly amused, not angry.

“I live here.”I said toweling my head. ”How about you?”

“I cut a deal with the city. I’m leasing this building to start my own media company.” He said, bragging like any small businessman.

“Great! Need help?‚” I asked as I put on my clothes.

“I can’t afford help yet.”

“You can if they can live here.” I suggested.

And that was the way it started. Art let me keep the president’s office while he moved operations into the vice president’s office closer to the front door. I went to school in the morning and then came to work in the afternoon. I learned a lot about the design part of advertising and media. I learned how to make slides for business presentations. How to lay down soundtracks for commercials. How to edit videotape. I learned how to estimate jobs and deal with clients. I learned how to keep a budget and make a profit.

One day he handed me a video tape.

“Watch this and it will change your life.”

It was a commercial but like a science fiction movie. Some woman swinging a hammer was running down the hall being chased by guards. She ran into a room with a bunch of people staring slack-jawed at a screen of some big guy rambling about something. The woman let the hammer loose and it smashed the screen. It was Apple’s 1984 Macintosh commercial. I turned to him and said, “Cool.”

“Cool indeed. We are going to get one.”

I went to school the next day. I told my friend Sam about it. He was majoring in computers.

“Yeah I saw it at the Superbowl party last year. The one you didn’t go to. It’s not a computer you want on your resume.”

“It’s an Apple, we use them in the computer lab.”

“Yeah but if you want a business computer you want an IBM PC. Nobody will hire you if you use one of these. It’s kind of fruity.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, look at the logo. It’s a fruit with a rainbow in it. Don’t you get it?”

”No Sam, I don’t and I don’t think I want to.”

“Well you go back to that old fart you work for and I’ll go work for DEC or NCR. They’ll be around twenty years from now.”

I didn’t see Sam much after that. I spent more time at work, taking over more of the sales and production. Art was calling in sick more and more often. He kept going to funerals for his friends. I thought they were old, but a couple of them were not much older than me.

One day the Macintosh and laser printer arrived. I took them out of the box and set it up. Within the hour, I was printing my first layout in PageMaker. I called Art at home and asked if he was coming in to see it.

He sounded very tired. ‚ ¨I don’t think so. I’m not feeling that well. As a matter of act, can you bring it over and show me?”

I went over to his apartment and was shocked. It had been a month and he looked thin and was covered with dark blue splotches.

“Is anybody looking after you?” I asked.

He leaned unsteadily against the kitchen counter. ”No. Most of my friends are dead or too sick themselves. Others are too afraid.”

That was the sad truth about that period. Everything was falling apart. Farms were failing. Factories were closing. I had heard that in hard times people in the community would move in together and share expense or take care of each other. This epidemic was too big. I wasn’t afraid. Hell, I grew up surrounded by agricultural pesticides and worked with asbestos, I wasn’t going to let this scare me.

So I took care of Art as part of my job. He continued to give me advice on running the business as he faded. I’d like to say the business was doing well, but it was Art’s relationships with clients that worked. It was as if Art was more important than the work he created for them. I was just his assistant. They wanted Art.

By the spring of my senior year in college, Art was so sick he had to go into the hospital. They treated him like he was radioactive material. The hospital staff wanted to know my relationship with him. They asked with a slight sneer. I said I was his nephew. After all, no one would do this for his boss. Hard times made most people see bosses as the bad guys. Maybe some were, but Art gave me the freedom to learn things they never taught in school. I can’t remember a single line of bull from my business classes, but I remember everything he taught me.

I got a letter from the city saying that the lease on the Admin building would not be renewed. They were going to ’implode’the buildings, which meant they were going to blow them up in a controlled manner in about two weeks. I had the letter on my desk when the hospital called and told me Art was dead. They wanted to know if I wanted to pick up the body.

I had given this some thought and done some checking. He was a decorated war veteran but the people at a local military cemetery freaked at having someone with this disease buried there. I checked with various private cemeteries and funeral homes and got the same panic response. Gee, he’s dead, people. He’s not going to date anybody. Shame on them. Then it occurred to me. I knew of a place that wasn’t Potters Field.

So I went to the loading dock of General Hospital and there he was, in a black body bag with red-orange biohazard tags and stickers on it. I went inside and confirmed it was okay to take it. No one would help me move it. I opened the hatch of the Pinto, folded the back seat forward, Moved the bag to edge of the loading dock, got down put the bag over one shoulder and eased it into the car. This is how I wound up with my boss in the trunk.

So technically my boss wasn’t in the trunk since my car didn’t have one. Part of him was in the backseat. I drove carefully out of the city, hoping I wouldn’t be pulled over and have to explain. I saw a Volvo station wagon with a little yellow sign that said “Baby On Board” and thought I should have one that said ”Boss In Trunk.”

I drove out to a small town near my old farm. They had a Quaker cemetery that would bury anybody. Funny how folks without weapons aren’t afraid of anything. So that is where Art is buried, decorated war veteran surrounded by conscientious objectors, abolitionists and peace activists. Their wars were over. Mine had just begun.

I went back to the Admin building and figured out what to do next. I wrapped up the rest of the outstanding projects and delivered them to the clients. I finished my final exams and picked up my diploma, not waiting for the graduation ceremony.

The company hired to implode the buildings hired me to show them around the buildings while they set the explosives.

On the day of the implosion, I packed up the Mac and the printer Art had left to me. I figured I could use them as a foundation for a new business. They barely fit into my car. I took my old sledgehammer from the asbestos removal days and swung it through the glass brick window of the Admin building just for Art’s sake.

As I drove out of town, I heard the muffled explosions as one building after another collapsed behind me. My future was in front of me.

In 2004 I was at one of those twentieth anniversary events for the Mac in Silicon Valley. I had set up my original Mac and printer for display. My old college friend Sam walked up.

“Still have that Mac?” He laughed.

“Not only that. It still works. Do you?” I smirked.

”I’m at HP at the moment. DEC was bought by Compaq which was bought by HP. Nothing is permanent these days.”

“It never was.”I agreed.

“You ever get a full time job?” He half-mocked me.

“ No. I’d rather work for a living.” I full-mocked back.

When the event was over, my assistant packed up the boxes and loaded them in the trunk of my Mercedes. The license plate said BOS N TRNK.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 2, 2011 Blumbers

Changing Strategies Not Goals

In all the technological chaos, it is hard for large companies to change strategies and tactics and keep an eye on their goals.

Amazon started selling printed books (content). To sell the books they mailed them. To keep track of everything, they built their own cloud network. Now they sell digital books over their cloud network on their own Kindle devices. This is an excellent example of how a large company can survive by changing the way they do things but not their goal, to sell content.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 25, 2011 Blumbers

HP Way Out

HP has a great tradition and good people. They support a number of projects in communities around the world. I have used all sorts of their products for years. Lately HP leadership has made some decisions that has a lot of people worried. This week Meg Whitman was named CEO of HP. I do not know if this will stabilize the situation.

To avoid these messy transitions, somebody proposed that HP choose CEOs randomly from among its many happy customers. Every time it needs a new CEO, the board could select a random serial number from one of its laptops, tablets or inkjet printers and announce it on the home page of their website. I don’t know if it would be better, but it couldn’t be any worse.

All of this makes me wonder if financier Carl Icahn will show up. Like Martin Blank in the film Grosse Point Blank, if he shows up at your company there’s a reason. If your company has failed to address the needs of customers, investors, employees, or even former employees, Mr. Icahn is the one to call.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 18, 2011 Blumbers

Chip Fans

Intel had a big event in San Francisco last week. They demonstrated tablets to compete with the Apple iPad.  Because the Intel chips run fast, they create heat, which apparently require a small fan on the tablet to cool things off. The chips and fans use a lot of power, which means shorter battery life.

It occurred to me that some smart marketer would turn this negative into a positive. I expect to see tablets with beefed up fans to be used as hair dryers or leaf blowers.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 6, 2011 Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz

On September 6, 2011 Yahoo let go CEO Carol Bartz over a phone call. My first thought? Yahoo is still in business? I thought they had returned to their original business model of selling chocolate milk in a bottle.

Seriously, whatever trouble Yahoo was in, Carol Bartz couldn’t fix it. More chaos in Silicon Valley, and opportunity for someone else.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 4, 2011 Blumbers

Blood Money

I’m not laboring this Labor Day, which I think is the point.

Unfortunately there are millions of people out of work. This current economic collapse is not their fault. This collapse started years ago. Now Warren Buffett and other more responsible wealthy people are finally talking about paying their taxes. They figured out that money is like blood, it works best when it circulates.

In theory, companies exist to solve problems and make money, but they cannot seem to figure out that creating a society with fewer employees means fewer customers. This is creating more problems than it can solve without our help.

If you can’t work, you can vote. Do your research, get active, volunteer.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 21, 2011 Blumbers

Promises Kept

As I left the Susan Lucas Conwell farewell event in Los Altos, I knew that it was a closing chapter. I had kept my word to the dead.

I promised Jay D. Pinson that I would work with the SVEC to get as many scholarships as possible to the next generation of engineers. I promised Barb Cass that I would help transform SDForum into SVForum. I promised Viki Maki that I would rebuild the STC Silicon Valley chapter website. They are all gone now but I honored their last requests. For years I had worked quietly behind the scenes but at some point you get noticed. The grand poobah stuff of becoming a director, president or fellow was just an inevitable side effect of getting the job done.

Things in Silicon Valley were as chaotic as usual. Fifteen years ago, Apple was near bankruptcy and now it was the most valuable company on the planet. Google bought Motorola to get into making hardware while HP was trying to get out. Facebook was five years old and like any child seemed to have trouble deciding what it wanted to be when it grew up. Oracle’s Larry Ellison had made fun of the cloud and now was preparing to make money with it. Nokia, Microsoft and Intel were struggling to remain relevant in the new mobile world. It was a very uncertain time.

Things were about to get even crazier. That night there was an overflow venture capital pitching event up in Palo Alto. Somebody there would have the next idea that would turn everything else upside down. I got in my car. There would be more chaos up north.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 10, 2011 WCA Mobile App Development

On May 10, 2011 in San Jose  at Rhomobile, the WCA Mobile SIG presented “Whither Mobile App Development?” Sarah Allen of Blazing Cloud moderated panelists Adam Blum of Rhomobile, Andre Charland of Nitobi, Jeff Haynie of Appcelerator and Isaac Mosquera of AppMakr. They discussed developing apps for more than one mobile platform using tools like Rhodes, Titanium, PhoneGap, and other web-based cross-platform development frameworks. This write-once strategy makes sense if you remember the dominant mobile platforms five years ago were Palm, Microsoft and Symbian compared to Android and Apple today.

Also on attending were Roberto Araujo of LMGPR, WiFi expert Avril Salter, STC Silicon Valley Media Advisor David Strom and Gabriele Gresta of BrainSpark.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Mar. 27, 2011 Paul Baran

March 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, Paul Baran died from lung cancer at the age of 84. He was a member of the SVEC Hall of Fame, winner of the Marconi Prize and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Born in Grodno, Poland, Baran graduated from Drexel Institute of Technology in 1949 and later his master’s degree in electrical engineering from UCLA.

Baran worked for the Rand Corporation in the 1950s developing a command-and-control network that would survive a nuclear attack. He came up with a decentralized system would be held together by scores of small computers. Messages would be broken in small packets and would still get through switching from one surviving node to the next until it was reassembled at the destination. This packet switching was used by the Arpanet and eventually the Internet. The idea of an artificial intelligence network that could withstand anything lives on.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Honoring Viki

I wanted to thank everyone for their response about Viki Maki. Many wanted to know how to honor her. We are working on that. For me personally, that means staying involved with STC.

I had gotten whatever I needed from STC a long time ago. Any recognition I received as a grand poobah was a side effect of helping people find work. Whatever individual achievement we do, the organization must survive to help others.

I remember when STC was near collapse and there were some people who thought it should disappear. They said silly things like it should not exist, that it should be replaced with a Facebook page. They said it in all capital letters. In an ironic twist, they promptly sought leadership positions in an organization they professed not to think was “relevant.” They are wrong. About a lot of things. All the time.

For all the advantages of social networking, nothing beats meeting and working with people in person. The Internet is merely another layer in technical communication not the replacement for all other social interaction. An organization that wants to help people must use all channels. I suppose STC could be run as a social network out of a server in Washington DC, but I think it works better at the local level in the kind of communities that Viki Maki built.

From my viewpoint over the past fifty years, technical communication has gone from a single profession to a set of job skills for essential for any professional. The times change and STC has to change with it. Being the president of a chapter today does not compare with being the president of a chapter even three years ago. The near collapse changed all that. What did not change was the need for people to meet and work together. We must make sure that the organization is there for people to do just that.

In whatever form, I will still support STC. I do it in the memory of people like Viki who wanted to build something that survives them. It is like seeing a friend through an illness or even death. You don’t abandon a friend in need and you certainly don’t make things worse. You work to make things better in spite of the bad news. In this case, the sacrifices of our generation made it possible for a new generation to step forward.

During the collapse, Viki said it was possible that I would be the last president of the Silicon Valley chapter unless we did something to save it and the larger organization. We did it. It was up to us.

Now it’s up to you.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.