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.