Touchstone Awards Dinner Honors Technical Communication Excellence

The Touchstone technical communication competition honored excellent work in technical communication with an awards dinner on Saturday, January 16, 2016. The event was held in conjunction with the STC Berkeley Chapter’s annual party. Twenty-three entries won awards. The two Distinguished entries and nine Excellence entries are eligible to enter the STC International Summit Awards. The results of that competition will be announced at the STC Summit in Anaheim in May.

The Distinguished winners are a book from Microsoft Press and a style guide from Salesforce. The book, Adaptive Code via C#, describes best practices and software design principles for producing code that can adapt without breaking, and also provides an excellent introduction to working in an agile environment. The Salesforce style guide sets out voice and tone guidelines for the use of presenters in the wildly successful Salesforce Trailhead modules.

While primarily focused on work done in northern California, this year’s competition also included entries from the Pacific Northwest after that region’s competition encountered difficulties that made it unviable.

Touchstone’s platinum sponsor, Adobe Systems, provided a generous cash contribution to support the event and a one-year subscription to its Technical Communication Suite to use as a door prize. Other vendors contributed door prizes as well.

The Touchstone judges volunteer many hours of work to evaluate entries and give feedback to the entrants. Each year, in a random drawing, one of those judges wins up to $250 toward that year’s STC dues. This year Christopher Muntzer won that prize.

The STC Northern California Technical Communication Competition, rebranded as Touchstone in 1996, has been recognizing the work of Northern California technical communicators since at least the early 1980s. Nobody remembers exactly when it started, but in 1990, under the directorship of Corinne Stefanick of the East Bay Chapter, it generated a large surplus, which the sponsoring chapters agreed to use to fund a new scholarship, named for Dr. Kenneth Gordon, who had recently died after many years as a local champion of STC. Proceeds from the competition still go in part to fund the Gordon scholarship. Each year the scholarship awards several thousand dollars to outstanding students in Northern California technical communication programs.

Originally, management of the competition moved from chapter to chapter among the five Northern California STC Chapters. These chapters still sponsor the competition and share in its proceeds, but management since 2005 has remained with the Gordon Scholarship Committee, chaired by Patrick Lufkin.

For more information, visit STC Touchstone.

Richard Mateosian and
Patrick Lufkin