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Oral-History:Rudy Joenk

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== About Rudy Joenk  ==
 
== About Rudy Joenk  ==
  
<p>The interview of Rudy Joenk was conducted on behalf of the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] in 2007. </p>
+
The interview of Rudy Joenk was conducted on behalf of the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] in 2007.  
  
<p>Rudy Joenk was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He majored in physics at Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a BA in 1953. After his army service, Joenk entered the University of Washington in Seattle and got master's degree in physics. He received his PhD in 1962 from the University of Pittsburgh and started in the same year working at the IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Six years later, he became an Associate Editor for the IBM Journal of Research and Development and in 1971 an Editor. </p>
+
Rudy Joenk was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He majored in physics at Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a BA in 1953. After his army service, Joenk entered the University of Washington in Seattle and got master's degree in physics. He received his PhD in 1962 from the University of Pittsburgh and started in the same year working at the IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Six years later, he became an Associate Editor for the IBM Journal of Research and Development and in 1971 an Editor.  
  
<p>While working for IBM, Joenk also accepted the editorship for the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS)]] in around 1977. He played an important role in establishing the PCS journal, ''Transactions of the IEEE Professional Communication Society'' and organized newsletters and conferences for engineers to help improve their technical communication. In 1978, he left New York and got a job at the IBM Patent Department in Boulder. Soon, he started a new position, putting together the Information Development Department for IBM. The Department published manuals for IBM products, and Joenk focused on good writing and editing for the manuals. He retired in 1993 after being with IBM for 31 years. </p>
+
While working for IBM, Joenk also accepted the editorship for the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS)]] in around 1977. He played an important role in establishing the PCS journal, ''Transactions of the IEEE Professional Communication Society'' and organized newsletters and conferences for engineers to help improve their technical communication. In 1978, he left New York and got a job at the IBM Patent Department in Boulder. Soon, he started a new position, putting together the Information Development Department for IBM. The Department published manuals for IBM products, and Joenk focused on good writing and editing for the manuals. He retired in 1993 after being with IBM for 31 years.  
  
<p>In this interview, Rudy Joenk shares his thoughts on the works of the PCS over the past thirty years. He argues that with the development of the Internet and the World-Wide Web, international communication has become important and explains that the Internet use has been covered by PCS conferences and the PCS journal, ''Transactions''. Since his main interest lies in communication, Joenk pays attention to the [[Usability|usability]] of the Internet contents and PowerPoint, which has become available to many engineers. Although he sympathizes with the critics of PowerPoint and Microsoft, he admits that they are useful communication tools. Joenk also mentions the effects of the PCS on academia and how difficult it was for the PCS to earn recognition within the IEEE. He points out greater influence of the PCS outside the IEEE and expresses optimism for its future. Rudy Joenk concludes the interview, briefly mentioning that the Internet and email were the most important boost in communication over the past thirty years. </p>
+
In this interview, Rudy Joenk shares his thoughts on the works of the PCS over the past thirty years. He argues that with the development of the Internet and the World-Wide Web, international communication has become important and explains that the Internet use has been covered by PCS conferences and the PCS journal, ''Transactions''. Since his main interest lies in communication, Joenk pays attention to the [[Usability|usability]] of the Internet contents and PowerPoint, which has become available to many engineers. Although he sympathizes with the critics of PowerPoint and Microsoft, he admits that they are useful communication tools. Joenk also mentions the effects of the PCS on academia and how difficult it was for the PCS to earn recognition within the IEEE. He points out greater influence of the PCS outside the IEEE and expresses optimism for its future. Rudy Joenk concludes the interview, briefly mentioning that the Internet and email were the most important boost in communication over the past thirty years.  
  
 
== About the Interview  ==
 
== About the Interview  ==
  
<p>RUDY JOENK: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 25 March 2007 </p>
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RUDY JOENK: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 25 March 2007  
  
<p>Interview #469 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
+
Interview #469 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  
  
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
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This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.  
  
<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
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Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.  
  
<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:  
  
<p>Rudy Joenk, an oral history conducted in 2007 by Michael N. Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
+
Rudy Joenk, an oral history conducted in 2007 by Michael N. Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
  
 
== Interview  ==
 
== Interview  ==
  
<p>Interview: Rudy Joenk </p>
+
Interview: Rudy Joenk  
  
<p>Interviewer: Michael Geselowitz </p>
+
Interviewer: Michael Geselowitz  
  
<p>Date: 25 March 2007 </p>
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Date: 25 March 2007  
  
<p>Place: Rudy Joenk's home in Boulder, Colorado </p>
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Place: Rudy Joenk's home in Boulder, Colorado  
  
 
=== Education and military service  ===
 
=== Education and military service  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I'm with Rudy Joenk of the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] and conducting an oral history interview on behalf of the Society. Rudy, thank you very much for having me in your home and agreeing to do the interview. Would you tell us a little bit about your early years and how you got interested in technical matters? </p>
+
I'm with Rudy Joenk of the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] and conducting an oral history interview on behalf of the Society. Rudy, thank you very much for having me in your home and agreeing to do the interview. Would you tell us a little bit about your early years and how you got interested in technical matters?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Early in my life? </p>
+
Early in my life?  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Yes, early in your life – high school and how you decided what to do in college and that sort of thing. </p>
+
Yes, early in your life – high school and how you decided what to do in college and that sort of thing.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I remember very little about high school except that I think it was generally fairly easy for me. </p>
+
I remember very little about high school except that I think it was generally fairly easy for me.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Where did you live in your early years? </p>
+
Where did you live in your early years?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I lived there twenty-one years. After high school I went on to Washington University in St. Louis. For reasons unknown I thought I would major in chemistry, but after a first semester of that I decided I didn't like it and switched to physics. I managed to come out of Washington University with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts, with a major in physics. </p>
+
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I lived there twenty-one years. After high school I went on to Washington University in St. Louis. For reasons unknown I thought I would major in chemistry, but after a first semester of that I decided I didn't like it and switched to physics. I managed to come out of Washington University with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts, with a major in physics.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>What year was this? </p>
+
What year was this?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>That was '53. The Korean conflict was finishing up at that time, so I had been in the Army ROTC in order to obtain deferments and finish college. Upon graduating I went off to the Army in Fort Bliss, Texas as a second lieutenant. They trained me in antiaircraft artillery. At first that was a great big 120-mm gun. Then they sent me up to Washington state as part of the antiaircraft defense of Seattle. Before that time I had not realized that there was such a thing as defending our coastal cities. We had a small encampment just south of Seattle and set up a 120-mm antiaircraft artillery gun. We did that for a while and eventually they converted to the Nike missile. Therefore we did some training down at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, traveling back and forth to the south end of Seattle. When the Army offered me an early release after 21 months I took it and started at the University of Washington in Seattle. I got a master's degree in physics there. </p>
+
That was '53. The Korean conflict was finishing up at that time, so I had been in the Army ROTC in order to obtain deferments and finish college. Upon graduating I went off to the Army in Fort Bliss, Texas as a second lieutenant. They trained me in antiaircraft artillery. At first that was a great big 120-mm gun. Then they sent me up to Washington state as part of the antiaircraft defense of Seattle. Before that time I had not realized that there was such a thing as defending our coastal cities. We had a small encampment just south of Seattle and set up a 120-mm antiaircraft artillery gun. We did that for a while and eventually they converted to the Nike missile. Therefore we did some training down at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, traveling back and forth to the south end of Seattle. When the Army offered me an early release after 21 months I took it and started at the University of Washington in Seattle. I got a master's degree in physics there.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Did your physics background help at all in your missile defense? </p>
+
Did your physics background help at all in your missile defense?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>No, I don't think so. It didn't hurt, that's for sure. It was a hard subject. It was hard in the way of hardware, but no real application. Once I got my master's degree I started looking around for what to do next. </p>
+
No, I don't think so. It didn't hurt, that's for sure. It was a hard subject. It was hard in the way of hardware, but no real application. Once I got my master's degree I started looking around for what to do next.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>What was the subject of your master's thesis? </p>
+
What was the subject of your master's thesis?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Chronic cavitation in water—that is, the bubbles that gather at the nodes of standing waves. I don't know whether that has had any practical application. I never applied it. While I was at the University I also worked in a cosmic ray laboratory. Afterwards when I was looking for a job the best one that turned up was the Westinghouse Atomic Energy Plant in Pittsburgh, because they offered me a Fellowship whereby I could go to school the equivalent of one day a week and work four days. Initially I did theoretical calculations on a submarine nuclear reactor that was called the S5W. </p>
+
Chronic cavitation in water—that is, the bubbles that gather at the nodes of standing waves. I don't know whether that has had any practical application. I never applied it. While I was at the University I also worked in a cosmic ray laboratory. Afterwards when I was looking for a job the best one that turned up was the Westinghouse Atomic Energy Plant in Pittsburgh, because they offered me a Fellowship whereby I could go to school the equivalent of one day a week and work four days. Initially I did theoretical calculations on a submarine nuclear reactor that was called the S5W.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Did you have anything to do with the so-called atom-smasher at that plant, which is today an IEEE Milestone? </p>
+
Did you have anything to do with the so-called atom-smasher at that plant, which is today an IEEE Milestone?  
  
 
=== Ph.D. studies, employment at IBM, and early professional affiliations  ===
 
=== Ph.D. studies, employment at IBM, and early professional affiliations  ===
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>No, my work was all on the theory on how reactors worked. Meanwhile in school I specialized in magnetism. I finished in '62 with a Ph.D. in physics. </p>
+
No, my work was all on the theory on how reactors worked. Meanwhile in school I specialized in magnetism. I finished in '62 with a Ph.D. in physics.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Which school was that? </p>
+
Which school was that?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>The University of Pittsburgh. My advisor there was good friends with a fellow at the IBM Research Center in Yorktown Heights, and between the two of them they got me a job there. Thanksgiving of 1962 I went to the IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. I applied my degree there working in the field of magnetism – magnetic compounds and so on. </p>
+
The University of Pittsburgh. My advisor there was good friends with a fellow at the IBM Research Center in Yorktown Heights, and between the two of them they got me a job there. Thanksgiving of 1962 I went to the IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. I applied my degree there working in the field of magnetism – magnetic compounds and so on.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Was magnetic memory the application on which you were looking? </p>
+
Was magnetic memory the application on which you were looking?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. At that time, being a research center, we were more poking around. Back in those days there were not a whole lot of ties between research and development. Ties became stronger over the years, but back in the early days of the Watson Research Center in New York City and even after its move to Yorktown Heights in 1961, there were not a lot of ties. Largely we were looking at new compounds that could be used for computer memory. I analyzed some of those theoretically and made some calculations and gave a few talks and wrote a few papers and so forth. </p>
+
Yes. At that time, being a research center, we were more poking around. Back in those days there were not a whole lot of ties between research and development. Ties became stronger over the years, but back in the early days of the Watson Research Center in New York City and even after its move to Yorktown Heights in 1961, there were not a lot of ties. Largely we were looking at new compounds that could be used for computer memory. I analyzed some of those theoretically and made some calculations and gave a few talks and wrote a few papers and so forth.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Did you have a professional affiliation in those days with an association like the [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]] or anything like that? </p>
+
Did you have a professional affiliation in those days with an association like the [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]] or anything like that?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Back in those days there was the American Physical Society (APS) and another I can't remember. </p>
+
Back in those days there was the American Physical Society (APS) and another I can't remember.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>The APS was and is the main association for physicists. </p>
+
The APS was and is the main association for physicists.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes, that was a main one. The other organization I joined was the American Association for the Advancement of Science. </p>
+
Yes, that was a main one. The other organization I joined was the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>The AAAS, yes. The one that publishes ''Science'' magazine. </p>
+
The AAAS, yes. The one that publishes ''Science'' magazine.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. </p>
+
Yes.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>The American Physical Society publishes ''Physics Today'' I think. </p>
+
The American Physical Society publishes ''Physics Today'' I think.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes, and they also publish The ''Physical Review''. ''Physical Review'' was of most interest to me. </p>
+
Yes, and they also publish The ''Physical Review''. ''Physical Review'' was of most interest to me.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>How long were you at IBM? </p>
+
How long were you at IBM?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I retired in '93 after being with IBM for 31 years. </p>
+
I retired in '93 after being with IBM for 31 years.  
  
 
=== ''IBM Journal of Research and Development''  ===
 
=== ''IBM Journal of Research and Development''  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>How long were you in the Yorktown facility? </p>
+
How long were you in the Yorktown facility?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I stayed at Yorktown for six years, and during that time I decided that I was not going to be a [[Nobel Prize|Nobel Prize]]-winning physicist, so I started looking for some other things to do. While at Yorktown I had written a section of an encyclopedia on physics about ferromagnetism, and I had written my own papers and had edited a book for another fellow there. I was interested in technical information and turned out to be a pretty good editor. Therefore I went over to work for the ''IBM Journal of Research and Development'', which was located in White Plains in another Westchester County community. I started there in '68 as an Associate Editor and in '71 became Editor. Generally I found that while I could not do my own personal research in all the various fields, I had a pretty good sense of what was right and what was wrong when someone wrote a paper. I could edit and find errors in computer science, programming, chemistry or physics or anything and get the author to straighten it out. </p>
+
I stayed at Yorktown for six years, and during that time I decided that I was not going to be a [[Nobel Prize|Nobel Prize]]-winning physicist, so I started looking for some other things to do. While at Yorktown I had written a section of an encyclopedia on physics about ferromagnetism, and I had written my own papers and had edited a book for another fellow there. I was interested in technical information and turned out to be a pretty good editor. Therefore I went over to work for the ''IBM Journal of Research and Development'', which was located in White Plains in another Westchester County community. I started there in '68 as an Associate Editor and in '71 became Editor. Generally I found that while I could not do my own personal research in all the various fields, I had a pretty good sense of what was right and what was wrong when someone wrote a paper. I could edit and find errors in computer science, programming, chemistry or physics or anything and get the author to straighten it out.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Was that an IBM-wide journal for all of their departments? </p>
+
Was that an IBM-wide journal for all of their departments?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>It was not only IBM-wide but it was available outside of IBM as well. </p>
+
It was not only IBM-wide but it was available outside of IBM as well.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Was it their way to promote their research to the outside world? </p>
+
Was it their way to promote their research to the outside world?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Right. </p>
+
Right.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>For example, university libraries subscribed? </p>
+
For example, university libraries subscribed?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Right. In the past decade, or maybe it's been the past two decades, I think it has become available on newsstands. It has a sister journal called The ''IBM System Journal''. Now that one is definitely available on newsstands. It can be found at Barnes and Noble or Borders or stores like that. It has always been available outside IBM. We were really writing it to convince academia and other industry of the value and capabilities of our scientists and engineers. </p>
+
Right. In the past decade, or maybe it's been the past two decades, I think it has become available on newsstands. It has a sister journal called The ''IBM System Journal''. Now that one is definitely available on newsstands. It can be found at Barnes and Noble or Borders or stores like that. It has always been available outside IBM. We were really writing it to convince academia and other industry of the value and capabilities of our scientists and engineers.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>How long did you stay with that? </p>
+
How long did you stay with that?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I stayed there until '78. I made two trips to Europe and visited all the IBM scientific facilities, ten or so places. They had small scientific centers and big research labs over there. The job was to try to get the IBM scientists and engineers to publish. We had a little bit of a problem in that even our own people thought it was an internal IBM journal. They often preferred to publish in things like the ''Physical Review''. Part of the job was convincing them that our journal was worthwhile. </p>
+
I stayed there until '78. I made two trips to Europe and visited all the IBM scientific facilities, ten or so places. They had small scientific centers and big research labs over there. The job was to try to get the IBM scientists and engineers to publish. We had a little bit of a problem in that even our own people thought it was an internal IBM journal. They often preferred to publish in things like the ''Physical Review''. Part of the job was convincing them that our journal was worthwhile.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Was there a language issue when you went to these European centers? Did they want to publish in French while your journal was only in English? </p>
+
Was there a language issue when you went to these European centers? Did they want to publish in French while your journal was only in English?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>No, we had no trouble. They published mostly in English. To get my Ph.D. I had to pass tests in French and German, but I never used it because everything was published in English. Language was not a problem. They were all English-speaking at these laboratories. Of course they could speak their native languages, but English seemed to be the primary language of science and engineering. </p>
+
No, we had no trouble. They published mostly in English. To get my Ph.D. I had to pass tests in French and German, but I never used it because everything was published in English. Language was not a problem. They were all English-speaking at these laboratories. Of course they could speak their native languages, but English seemed to be the primary language of science and engineering.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Were you successful in boosting submissions? </p>
+
Were you successful in boosting submissions?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. I became Editor and that was part of it. I was quite successful. I guess I doubled the circulation outside the company. </p>
+
Yes. I became Editor and that was part of it. I was quite successful. I guess I doubled the circulation outside the company.  
  
 
=== Professional communication and the IEEE  ===
 
=== Professional communication and the IEEE  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Was it during this period that you came to realize that professional communication was sort of an art? Up until then, people like yourself were accidentally discovered by their companies to be good, and backed into editorial jobs. Maybe you thought you ought to get together with other people and discuss best practices and publish guides and that sort of thing. When did that enter your consciousness? </p>
+
Was it during this period that you came to realize that professional communication was sort of an art? Up until then, people like yourself were accidentally discovered by their companies to be good, and backed into editorial jobs. Maybe you thought you ought to get together with other people and discuss best practices and publish guides and that sort of thing. When did that enter your consciousness?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I wish I could say that it did, but my involvement with professional communication came about in an entirely different way. Back about the end of '76 or early '77 the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) came looking for me. I had been working at IBM with a fellow named Herb Michaelson, who was one of the editors of the IBM journal. He belonged to PCS, and they were having trouble at that time with their main technical journal Transactions of the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] at the time. Therefore he and the then-current president, Emily Schlesinger, asked me to take over the Transactions. It was like a sudden exposure to the idea of professional communication as a field, rather than something gradual. </p>
+
I wish I could say that it did, but my involvement with professional communication came about in an entirely different way. Back about the end of '76 or early '77 the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) came looking for me. I had been working at IBM with a fellow named Herb Michaelson, who was one of the editors of the IBM journal. He belonged to PCS, and they were having trouble at that time with their main technical journal Transactions of the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] at the time. Therefore he and the then-current president, Emily Schlesinger, asked me to take over the Transactions. It was like a sudden exposure to the idea of professional communication as a field, rather than something gradual.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>That brings a lot of questions to my mind. Did you know about the IEEE PCS and its ''Transactions'' because you had colleagues who were involved in it although you were not involved in any way yourself prior to that? </p>
+
That brings a lot of questions to my mind. Did you know about the IEEE PCS and its ''Transactions'' because you had colleagues who were involved in it although you were not involved in any way yourself prior to that?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Not prior to that, no. </p>
+
Not prior to that, no.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Did you subscribe to ''Transactions'' or anything like that? </p>
+
Did you subscribe to ''Transactions'' or anything like that?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>No. </p>
+
No.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>When you heard about it, did something click? Did you say to yourself that this is a good idea – that there ought to be such a ''Transactions'' where people could discuss best practices and so forth. </p>
+
When you heard about it, did something click? Did you say to yourself that this is a good idea – that there ought to be such a ''Transactions'' where people could discuss best practices and so forth.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Of course, so, yes, I became very interested in it. One of IBM's vice presidents, Manny (Emmanuel R.) Piori, was very involved with IEEE, and encouraged employees to get involved. IBM sponsors an IEEE award in his name in the field of information processing in relation to computer science. </p>
+
Of course, so, yes, I became very interested in it. One of IBM's vice presidents, Manny (Emmanuel R.) Piori, was very involved with IEEE, and encouraged employees to get involved. IBM sponsors an IEEE award in his name in the field of information processing in relation to computer science.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>IBM has always had a strong involvement with IEEE. Did you know [[Emerson Pugh|Emerson Pugh]] at IBM? </p>
+
IBM has always had a strong involvement with IEEE. Did you know [[Emerson Pugh|Emerson Pugh]] at IBM?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. </p>
+
Yes.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>He is on the IEEE History Committee, and I have worked closely with him over my 10 years at IEEE. </p>
+
He is on the IEEE History Committee, and I have worked closely with him over my 10 years at IEEE.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>He was at the Research Center. </p>
+
He was at the Research Center.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Right. </p>
+
Right.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I don't think he will know me. </p>
+
I don't think he will know me.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I'll ask him. I talk to him frequently. He has done a lot of research and writing on the history of IBM. </p>
+
I'll ask him. I talk to him frequently. He has done a lot of research and writing on the history of IBM.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I knew [[Lewis Terman|Lew Terman]]. </p>
+
I knew [[Lewis Terman|Lew Terman]].  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>He is now the president-elect of IEEE. </p>
+
He is now the president-elect of IEEE.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. For next year, I guess—then he’ll be President. </p>
+
Yes. For next year, I guess—then he’ll be President.  
  
 
=== Editorship of the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) ''Transactions''  ===
 
=== Editorship of the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) ''Transactions''  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>So, there is a long connection between IBM and IEEE. Was the editorship of the PCS ''Transactions'' a full-time position? How did that work? You were editing a journal professionally and they wanted you to edit this association's journal. How did that work in terms of your time? </p>
+
So, there is a long connection between IBM and IEEE. Was the editorship of the PCS ''Transactions'' a full-time position? How did that work? You were editing a journal professionally and they wanted you to edit this association's journal. How did that work in terms of your time?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>The IEEE journal was strictly volunteer work I did on off hours – except that IBM was quite generous about giving me flexibility with my time. I also got some support for the mailings and other communications from IBM, but, like everybody else editing for IEEE, it was a volunteer job. Before that I had been Mayor of Ossining, New York, a small Westchester community, for about four years, and IBM was very flexible with that as well. I also attended APS meetings and so forth. In general I had no trouble. </p>
+
The IEEE journal was strictly volunteer work I did on off hours – except that IBM was quite generous about giving me flexibility with my time. I also got some support for the mailings and other communications from IBM, but, like everybody else editing for IEEE, it was a volunteer job. Before that I had been Mayor of Ossining, New York, a small Westchester community, for about four years, and IBM was very flexible with that as well. I also attended APS meetings and so forth. In general I had no trouble.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>For listeners who don't know, I'll point out that Ossining is famous for being the site of the Sing-Sing Prison. </p>
+
For listeners who don't know, I'll point out that Ossining is famous for being the site of the Sing-Sing Prison.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes, and it is still there. It was in the old James Cagney movies. </p>
+
Yes, and it is still there. It was in the old James Cagney movies.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>That's where the expression from which "up the river" comes – up the river from New York City to Ossining. Being a politician, like being a writer and editor, also involves a lot of communication skills. </p>
+
That's where the expression from which "up the river" comes – up the river from New York City to Ossining. Being a politician, like being a writer and editor, also involves a lot of communication skills.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. </p>
+
Yes.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>So, they the PCS drew you into editing their ''Transactions'' and that got you involved in the Society. I would think the spotlight was really on you compared to, say, if you were editing ''Physical Review'' or something like that, because it was the communication organ of an association about communicating. What it was like to edit that journal? </p>
+
So, they the PCS drew you into editing their ''Transactions'' and that got you involved in the Society. I would think the spotlight was really on you compared to, say, if you were editing ''Physical Review'' or something like that, because it was the communication organ of an association about communicating. What it was like to edit that journal?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Even to this day there are many people in the IEEE who have never heard of the Professional Communication Society, and back in the beginning of '77 it was much worse. That was thirty years ago. The word communication in our title often comes out with an "s" on the end, even by the people doing the records work—they would confuse us with the [[IEEE Communications Society History|IEEE Communications Society]], also known as ComSoc. It was a difficult start. The reason they had called on me was because the ''Transactions'' was supposed to be quarterly, like most ''Transactions'', but that last year of '76 it had gotten down to two issues and a total of only forty-six pages. They were in dire straits at the time. The PCS Administrative Committee (AdCom) gave me permission to do some reprinting, so I went to a lot of other journals in the communication field and got permission to reprint things. We soon got it back up to a normal size and a regular type of publication. That went on for several years, and finally someone in the IEEE began to notice us and decided that we were not exactly an archival-quality journal – at least not 100% archival. We began to work our way back to the archival type. Because we had developed a good reputation by that time we began to get more and more external submissions. By the time I left the ''Transactions'' in '84 it had been almost 100% archival-type external submissions.We had given up the reprinting. I got quite a variety of the kinds of things that I thought – and I still think – engineers really need: the how-to-write sort of stuff. I found that even these authors in communication-oriented journals very seldom used any form of graphics or visual aids to illustrate points in their articles, so I began collecting cartoons. I would use the cartoons to illustrate points made in the articles. I found that many artists were extremely sensitive to the nuances of the language and people's shortcomings in that area. You may have noticed that on bathroom door here in my apartment I have a sign, "The Department of Redundancy Department." That actually came from a “Ziggy” cartoon more than a quarter of a century ago, but it is only in the past few years that this concept has come into public awareness. “B.C.” was another good cartoon for these sort of language jokes, and another was “Herman” by Jim Unger. Single panels like “Ziggy” were best for me, but comic strips like “Ziggy” and “B.C.” were also extremely sensible in illustrating how people mangled the language and didn't know how to use it. I had plenty of material for that. In the late '70s to early '80s I gave several talks at PCS conferences that were totally based on these cartoons. I had a lot of these cartoons. I turned them into slides and gave a running commentary on the language problems and illustrated them with these cartoons. </p>
+
<flashmp3>469 - joenk - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
Even to this day there are many people in the IEEE who have never heard of the Professional Communication Society, and back in the beginning of '77 it was much worse. That was thirty years ago. The word communication in our title often comes out with an "s" on the end, even by the people doing the records work—they would confuse us with the [[IEEE Communications Society History|IEEE Communications Society]], also known as ComSoc. It was a difficult start. The reason they had called on me was because the ''Transactions'' was supposed to be quarterly, like most ''Transactions'', but that last year of '76 it had gotten down to two issues and a total of only forty-six pages. They were in dire straits at the time. The PCS Administrative Committee (AdCom) gave me permission to do some reprinting, so I went to a lot of other journals in the communication field and got permission to reprint things. We soon got it back up to a normal size and a regular type of publication. That went on for several years, and finally someone in the IEEE began to notice us and decided that we were not exactly an archival-quality journal – at least not 100% archival. We began to work our way back to the archival type. Because we had developed a good reputation by that time we began to get more and more external submissions. By the time I left the ''Transactions'' in '84 it had been almost 100% archival-type external submissions.We had given up the reprinting. I got quite a variety of the kinds of things that I thought – and I still think – engineers really need: the how-to-write sort of stuff. I found that even these authors in communication-oriented journals very seldom used any form of graphics or visual aids to illustrate points in their articles, so I began collecting cartoons. I would use the cartoons to illustrate points made in the articles. I found that many artists were extremely sensitive to the nuances of the language and people's shortcomings in that area. You may have noticed that on bathroom door here in my apartment I have a sign, "The Department of Redundancy Department." That actually came from a “Ziggy” cartoon more than a quarter of a century ago, but it is only in the past few years that this concept has come into public awareness. “B.C.” was another good cartoon for these sort of language jokes, and another was “Herman” by Jim Unger. Single panels like “Ziggy” were best for me, but comic strips like “Ziggy” and “B.C.” were also extremely sensible in illustrating how people mangled the language and didn't know how to use it. I had plenty of material for that. In the late '70s to early '80s I gave several talks at PCS conferences that were totally based on these cartoons. I had a lot of these cartoons. I turned them into slides and gave a running commentary on the language problems and illustrated them with these cartoons.
  
<p>It's interesting because I would say the improper use of language is a problem in our society as a whole. Some would say it's gotten even worse since '84. I guess there is a kind of contradiction. On the one hand engineers are stereotyped as only being strong in mathematical language and not being as strong in language, writing and communication as their liberal arts colleagues. At same time, it is crucial in engineering to communicate precisely. If you misinterpret a poem no one gets hurt, but for instance in the Mars probe where different units of the lab are using different measuring systems you have a disaster on your hands. How do you feel about engineers as communicators in general versus society as a whole? </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
It's interesting because I would say the improper use of language is a problem in our society as a whole. Some would say it's gotten even worse since '84. I guess there is a kind of contradiction. On the one hand engineers are stereotyped as only being strong in mathematical language and not being as strong in language, writing and communication as their liberal arts colleagues. At same time, it is crucial in engineering to communicate precisely. If you misinterpret a poem no one gets hurt, but for instance in the Mars probe where different units of the lab are using different measuring systems you have a disaster on your hands. How do you feel about engineers as communicators in general versus society as a whole?
  
<p>I think our awareness of the problems in technical communication has increased greatly over the years. Back in '77 no one was terribly aware of it or concerned with it. I think there has been much more emphasis on it within corporations and universities that have started technical communication departments. It used to be that any instruction, even if it might have been oriented toward engineers, came out of the English department. This did not work out very well, so now, when universities take on a technical communication job, they very often put it in the engineering department. An awful lot of big universities have technical communication departments now, and I think in general engineers are doing better. </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
I think our awareness of the problems in technical communication has increased greatly over the years. Back in '77 no one was terribly aware of it or concerned with it. I think there has been much more emphasis on it within corporations and universities that have started technical communication departments. It used to be that any instruction, even if it might have been oriented toward engineers, came out of the English department. This did not work out very well, so now, when universities take on a technical communication job, they very often put it in the engineering department. An awful lot of big universities have technical communication departments now, and I think in general engineers are doing better.
  
<p>Do you think the PCS ''Transactions'' has helped with that? </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
Do you think the PCS ''Transactions'' has helped with that?
  
<p>I think that the PCS newsletters and conferences do more directly for the engineer. The necessity of being an archival journal points the ''Transactions'' in all IEEE Societies towards a more academic focus. Every time anybody gets reviewed – for PCS ''Transactions'' as well as for those of the more directly technical societies – one of the complaints is always that they don't have enough practical material. I think we do a little bit better with our newsletter and conferences than the ''Transactions'' are actually allowed to do. They have to attract academics and will be peer reviewed, so there is a lot more of the esoteric than the practical in any society's ''Transactions''. </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
I think that the PCS newsletters and conferences do more directly for the engineer. The necessity of being an archival journal points the ''Transactions'' in all IEEE Societies towards a more academic focus. Every time anybody gets reviewed – for PCS ''Transactions'' as well as for those of the more directly technical societies – one of the complaints is always that they don't have enough practical material. I think we do a little bit better with our newsletter and conferences than the ''Transactions'' are actually allowed to do. They have to attract academics and will be peer reviewed, so there is a lot more of the esoteric than the practical in any society's ''Transactions''.
  
<p>Were you involved in the newsletter as well? </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
Were you involved in the newsletter as well?
  
<p>During the last two years I edited the ''Transactions'', '83 and '84, I also edited the newsletter. I again took on the newsletter in '98 and carried it through ‘04. Then we decided to turn it into an electronic publication. I figured that was the most useful time to bow out. I really wasn't that good with the web and I'd done an awful lot of editing all of my life. I had retired in '93 but stayed active in the Society. I was on the AdCom, chaired the Editorial Advisory Committee, things like that. I was happy to turn over to a new editor but I was not so happy to see it go electronic, because I find it harder to read copy on a monitor than on paper. However we have had a very good editor and she has put it in a format that I find to be quite adaptable through the tube. It's not bad at all. </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
During the last two years I edited the ''Transactions'', '83 and '84, I also edited the newsletter. I again took on the newsletter in '98 and carried it through ‘04. Then we decided to turn it into an electronic publication. I figured that was the most useful time to bow out. I really wasn't that good with the web and I'd done an awful lot of editing all of my life. I had retired in '93 but stayed active in the Society. I was on the AdCom, chaired the Editorial Advisory Committee, things like that. I was happy to turn over to a new editor but I was not so happy to see it go electronic, because I find it harder to read copy on a monitor than on paper. However we have had a very good editor and she has put it in a format that I find to be quite adaptable through the tube. It's not bad at all.
  
<p>I have faced the same problem. When I get electronic newsletters I skim them on the tube and if there is something in which I am really interested I print it out to read it. Do you think that is something inherent about the human eye or is it the way we were raised and the next generation will be perfectly able to read and edit quite comfortably right off the screen? </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
I have faced the same problem. When I get electronic newsletters I skim them on the tube and if there is something in which I am really interested I print it out to read it. Do you think that is something inherent about the human eye or is it the way we were raised and the next generation will be perfectly able to read and edit quite comfortably right off the screen?
  
<p>I think for us it had to do with that to which we are accustomed. Reading off monitors is not inherently more difficult, but it is very different. We are so familiar with paper. My grandchildren have no trouble whatsoever reading on the tube. I'm not going to say they will be less interested in reading books because they are very interested in books. Nowadays I get a special pair of glasses that are the right distance and focus for reading on the tube. I am not at all fond of the newsletters that take up the full width of the screen, but I do read some newsletters on there. I read our newsletter and I read a genealogy newsletter on the tube, but some I have to print out or skim and ignore. </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''
 +
 
 +
I think for us it had to do with that to which we are accustomed. Reading off monitors is not inherently more difficult, but it is very different. We are so familiar with paper. My grandchildren have no trouble whatsoever reading on the tube. I'm not going to say they will be less interested in reading books because they are very interested in books. Nowadays I get a special pair of glasses that are the right distance and focus for reading on the tube. I am not at all fond of the newsletters that take up the full width of the screen, but I do read some newsletters on there. I read our newsletter and I read a genealogy newsletter on the tube, but some I have to print out or skim and ignore.  
  
 
=== Transition to IBM Patent Department in Boulder, Colorado  ===
 
=== Transition to IBM Patent Department in Boulder, Colorado  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Let's go back to when you finally left New York. When was that? </p>
+
Let's go back to when you finally left New York. When was that?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I left New York in '78. That was the end of my time with the ''IBM Journal of Research and Development''. I came out here to Boulder. There is an old Army story about people who came out of various schools in the Army. They were all asked, "Where would you like to go?" The result was that Hawaii sank into the ocean, while Alaska was uninhabited. Well, Boulder was IBM's Hawaii. It was very popular. I found a job out here in Boulder. I came out here to work in the Patent Department because of my technical editing and interpretation abilities. I was going to help the scientists write their patent disclosures. That worked out well for a while. However, the real reason that there even was such a position for me out here was because all the IBM patent attorneys were so busy with the court cases involving the patent infringement disagreement with Xerox over copying technology. Then all of a sudden IBM and Xerox settled and cross-licensed their patents. That made my job sort of go away. </p>
+
I left New York in '78. That was the end of my time with the ''IBM Journal of Research and Development''. I came out here to Boulder. There is an old Army story about people who came out of various schools in the Army. They were all asked, "Where would you like to go?" The result was that Hawaii sank into the ocean, while Alaska was uninhabited. Well, Boulder was IBM's Hawaii. It was very popular. I found a job out here in Boulder. I came out here to work in the Patent Department because of my technical editing and interpretation abilities. I was going to help the scientists write their patent disclosures. That worked out well for a while. However, the real reason that there even was such a position for me out here was because all the IBM patent attorneys were so busy with the court cases involving the patent infringement disagreement with Xerox over copying technology. Then all of a sudden IBM and Xerox settled and cross-licensed their patents. That made my job sort of go away.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Were you given any special training in patents when they brought you out here? </p>
+
Were you given any special training in patents when they brought you out here?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>No. </p>
+
No.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>You applied your general knowledge of communication. And of course illustrations are important to patents and you had that background as well. </p>
+
You applied your general knowledge of communication. And of course illustrations are important to patents and you had that background as well.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. That's my background. However, if you turn it around, you can say that I used what I learned in patents in my professional communication work because I put together a special issue of the PCS ''Transactions'' on patents and patenting for engineers. A few years after the first issue, we had another issue updating the field. Then much later, in '95, we put out a book. It is credited to one of our members, but two issues of the ''Transactions'' ultimately led to the book in '95. The Transactions issues were in '82 and '84 or something like that. The book covered exactly the same sorts of things but was a decade newer. </p>
+
Yes. That's my background. However, if you turn it around, you can say that I used what I learned in patents in my professional communication work because I put together a special issue of the PCS ''Transactions'' on patents and patenting for engineers. A few years after the first issue, we had another issue updating the field. Then much later, in '95, we put out a book. It is credited to one of our members, but two issues of the ''Transactions'' ultimately led to the book in '95. The Transactions issues were in '82 and '84 or something like that. The book covered exactly the same sorts of things but was a decade newer.  
  
 
=== IBM Information Development Department; technical writing and product manuals  ===
 
=== IBM Information Development Department; technical writing and product manuals  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>You were out here doing patents and IBM and Xerox decided it was better to make nice than to fight. What happened next? </p>
+
You were out here doing patents and IBM and Xerox decided it was better to make nice than to fight. What happened next?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I had another stroke of luck when a new position materialized, or maybe it was created it for me. IBM decided that they needed a group to write the manuals that go with their products. They had only had one or two people in each division writing the user manuals and the maintenance manuals and that sort of thing. They decided to create a separate department of publications for IBM products. We called it the “Information Development Department.” I started putting that group together and we wrote the user's manuals, maintenance manuals and programming guides and all that sort of thing. We got the staff up to thirty people or so – technical writers, editors, graphic artists and so forth. </p>
+
I had another stroke of luck when a new position materialized, or maybe it was created it for me. IBM decided that they needed a group to write the manuals that go with their products. They had only had one or two people in each division writing the user manuals and the maintenance manuals and that sort of thing. They decided to create a separate department of publications for IBM products. We called it the “Information Development Department.” I started putting that group together and we wrote the user's manuals, maintenance manuals and programming guides and all that sort of thing. We got the staff up to thirty people or so – technical writers, editors, graphic artists and so forth.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Are they all here in Boulder? </p>
+
Are they all here in Boulder?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. </p>
+
Yes.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>What are some of the products for which you wrote the manuals? </p>
+
What are some of the products for which you wrote the manuals?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>The primary one at that time was the 6670. It was typewriter that recorded on magnetic cards the size of the old paper punch cards. Boulder in general was a printing hub, and they made large page type printers and were beginning to make some of the smaller consumer-type printers. That eventually got spun off as Lexmark, which is still here in Boulder. </p>
+
The primary one at that time was the 6670. It was typewriter that recorded on magnetic cards the size of the old paper punch cards. Boulder in general was a printing hub, and they made large page type printers and were beginning to make some of the smaller consumer-type printers. That eventually got spun off as Lexmark, which is still here in Boulder.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I have a Lexmark multi-function machine at home. </p>
+
I have a Lexmark multi-function machine at home.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>It probably has good documentation. You undoubtedly have bought a Japanese or Chinese clock or [[Radio|radio]] at one time or another, and found that their user's manuals are not easy to understand. </p>
+
It probably has good documentation. You undoubtedly have bought a Japanese or Chinese clock or [[Radio|radio]] at one time or another, and found that their user's manuals are not easy to understand.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>They are incomprehensible. </p>
+
They are incomprehensible.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>We wanted IBM to avoid that, or to get away from it if we were guilty of it. Therefore we put a lot of emphasis into good writing and editing as well as graphics that illustrated what they were supposed to illustrate. </p>
+
We wanted IBM to avoid that, or to get away from it if we were guilty of it. Therefore we put a lot of emphasis into good writing and editing as well as graphics that illustrated what they were supposed to illustrate.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>My sense with the Asian consumer products particularly is that they clearly do not feel it is important or have no interest. For example, the instructions for clock radios made in China have been translated by people who clearly do not have a good grasp of English. They did not even bother to have a native speaker do a spot check. I find that incredible. I can't believe that, in these times of a global economy, that it is difficult find someone to do that inexpensively. I guess the assumption is that the consumer will work it out somehow. It would be much worse if you bought a mainframe. You would not want to invest in a mainframe and then find out its instructions were gobbledy-gook. </p>
+
My sense with the Asian consumer products particularly is that they clearly do not feel it is important or have no interest. For example, the instructions for clock radios made in China have been translated by people who clearly do not have a good grasp of English. They did not even bother to have a native speaker do a spot check. I find that incredible. I can't believe that, in these times of a global economy, that it is difficult find someone to do that inexpensively. I guess the assumption is that the consumer will work it out somehow. It would be much worse if you bought a mainframe. You would not want to invest in a mainframe and then find out its instructions were gobbledy-gook.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I think that back at that time technical writers were only beginning to be independent and put themselves up as consultants and work outside of major firms like IBM. Within IBM there was a tradition. Boulder was definitely not the first by any means. Poughkeepsie and some of the European sites publication staffs. After I formed the Boulder group, however, we began to operate as a community. We had our own set of conferences and get-togethers and things like that and worked with each other in translating and so forth for the IBM community. </p>
+
I think that back at that time technical writers were only beginning to be independent and put themselves up as consultants and work outside of major firms like IBM. Within IBM there was a tradition. Boulder was definitely not the first by any means. Poughkeepsie and some of the European sites publication staffs. After I formed the Boulder group, however, we began to operate as a community. We had our own set of conferences and get-togethers and things like that and worked with each other in translating and so forth for the IBM community.  
  
 
=== Professional Communication Society conferences  ===
 
=== Professional Communication Society conferences  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>You mentioned what you did with the newsletter, but you also mentioned that you thought the conferences were useful for the technical communicators. What are some of the kinds of things that PCS has done including conferences that you think were useful for the profession? </p>
+
You mentioned what you did with the newsletter, but you also mentioned that you thought the conferences were useful for the technical communicators. What are some of the kinds of things that PCS has done including conferences that you think were useful for the profession?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I think basically we have a little more engineering-oriented content in the conferences and therefore the conference proceedings, as opposed to the ''Transactions'' or even the newsletter. At a conference you get a concentration of useful papers. For instance, the conference is going to Seattle this year and I think that they have somewhere between ninety and a hundred presentations. Many of those are much more practically oriented than the content the ''Transactions''. An issue of PCS ''Transactions'' may only have three to ten papers in it and comes out quarterly, so when we get a hundred in the proceedings of a conference it is a considerable bump up. We move the conference around the country and endeavor to utilize the IEEE sections wherever we are holding a conference. We have been in Canada a couple of times and in England once. One year we held what was in effect a second conference in Russia, and we have had some symposia in Russia and elsewhere as well. </p>
+
I think basically we have a little more engineering-oriented content in the conferences and therefore the conference proceedings, as opposed to the ''Transactions'' or even the newsletter. At a conference you get a concentration of useful papers. For instance, the conference is going to Seattle this year and I think that they have somewhere between ninety and a hundred presentations. Many of those are much more practically oriented than the content the ''Transactions''. An issue of PCS ''Transactions'' may only have three to ten papers in it and comes out quarterly, so when we get a hundred in the proceedings of a conference it is a considerable bump up. We move the conference around the country and endeavor to utilize the IEEE sections wherever we are holding a conference. We have been in Canada a couple of times and in England once. One year we held what was in effect a second conference in Russia, and we have had some symposia in Russia and elsewhere as well.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>What would you say about the level of the presentations? </p>
+
What would you say about the level of the presentations?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>The IEEE publication emphasis is on archival stuff and that is not the same, in my view, as what engineers really need. The newsletter and the conferences are helpful, and teach engineers how to write. In our newsletter we occasionally have a column called "Professor Grammar" which will address particular language issue as "that" vs. "which" or dangling participles. In only a few hundred words we will give a short but useful tutorial on one of these issues. One of our fellows over in France, an author, does something similar that is a little bit more in depth on different aspects of the French language. </p>
+
The IEEE publication emphasis is on archival stuff and that is not the same, in my view, as what engineers really need. The newsletter and the conferences are helpful, and teach engineers how to write. In our newsletter we occasionally have a column called "Professor Grammar" which will address particular language issue as "that" vs. "which" or dangling participles. In only a few hundred words we will give a short but useful tutorial on one of these issues. One of our fellows over in France, an author, does something similar that is a little bit more in depth on different aspects of the French language.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Have you been involved in organizing or chairing any of the conferences over the years? </p>
+
Have you been involved in organizing or chairing any of the conferences over the years?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>No. I have gone to a good deal of them but not chaired anything. </p>
+
No. I have gone to a good deal of them but not chaired anything.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Have you presented at them? </p>
+
Have you presented at them?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes, any times. I did many of those cartoon-type presentations. I finally gave that up when the attorneys decided that that use of a cartoon did not really fit into the fair-use law. It had been okay for many years, but then some newer version copyright law came out and the copyright attorneys began to get more and more cautious until they finally decided it really was not something I could do. </p>
+
Yes, any times. I did many of those cartoon-type presentations. I finally gave that up when the attorneys decided that that use of a cartoon did not really fit into the fair-use law. It had been okay for many years, but then some newer version copyright law came out and the copyright attorneys began to get more and more cautious until they finally decided it really was not something I could do.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I wonder if that was that because the proceedings of a conference were published. In academia we use things like that in our teaching all the time. It is not disseminated in any other way than showing it in the classroom. </p>
+
I wonder if that was that because the proceedings of a conference were published. In academia we use things like that in our teaching all the time. It is not disseminated in any other way than showing it in the classroom.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I would use fifty to a hundred cartoons in a talk, but I did not infringe copyright in the sense of reprinting them. As far as my stuff was concerned we used abstracts, so I was not violating that part of the copyright law. </p>
+
I would use fifty to a hundred cartoons in a talk, but I did not infringe copyright in the sense of reprinting them. As far as my stuff was concerned we used abstracts, so I was not violating that part of the copyright law.  
  
 
=== Changes in the professional communication field  ===
 
=== Changes in the professional communication field  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>You have been involved in professional communication really your whole career, which goes back over forty years. You were also with the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] for thirty years and stayed active until quite recently. You actually walked away at one earlier point, but then they brought you back to do the newsletter again. You and I talked a few moments ago about the way the Internet and the World-Wide Web are changing things. I was wondering if you wanted to comment on the changes in the scope of interests of the PCS over the past thirty years. Pretty much when you started you were talking about writing, and now there is probably more than just writing involved, right? There is web design for instance. </p>
+
You have been involved in professional communication really your whole career, which goes back over forty years. You were also with the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|IEEE Professional Communication Society]] for thirty years and stayed active until quite recently. You actually walked away at one earlier point, but then they brought you back to do the newsletter again. You and I talked a few moments ago about the way the Internet and the World-Wide Web are changing things. I was wondering if you wanted to comment on the changes in the scope of interests of the PCS over the past thirty years. Pretty much when you started you were talking about writing, and now there is probably more than just writing involved, right? There is web design for instance.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. You might say that the PCS is interested anything in which academia is interested, such as website design as you mentioned. Yes, there is a lot of that. There is a lot more interest these days in the international aspects of communication; the cross-cultural aspects of writing and saying things in such a way that they can be translated unambiguously. There has been a lot of progress in the way that user manuals are created. We have word processing and online communications. A lot of technical information can be put into a computer and one can write about various aspects, and if a good job has been done of that one can pick certain pieces and come out with a user's guide, maintenance manual or a programming manual or whatever because all the necessary information has been put in there and has been coded properly. This approach is called “single source.” </p>
+
Yes. You might say that the PCS is interested anything in which academia is interested, such as website design as you mentioned. Yes, there is a lot of that. There is a lot more interest these days in the international aspects of communication; the cross-cultural aspects of writing and saying things in such a way that they can be translated unambiguously. There has been a lot of progress in the way that user manuals are created. We have word processing and online communications. A lot of technical information can be put into a computer and one can write about various aspects, and if a good job has been done of that one can pick certain pieces and come out with a user's guide, maintenance manual or a programming manual or whatever because all the necessary information has been put in there and has been coded properly. This approach is called “single source.”  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>So there is one database for all the technical information? </p>
+
So there is one database for all the technical information?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. </p>
+
Yes.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>And then you pull what you need? </p>
+
And then you pull what you need?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Right. </p>
+
Right.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>However you still need a person who will put that into prose that is understandable. </p>
+
However you still need a person who will put that into prose that is understandable.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>The database includes the prose. Then the pieces of the prose can be picked out. There is another movement called “minimalism” that tends to try to keep that prose to the absolute minimum necessary for clarity. </p>
+
The database includes the prose. Then the pieces of the prose can be picked out. There is another movement called “minimalism” that tends to try to keep that prose to the absolute minimum necessary for clarity.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>If it is going to be translated internationally it is probably better that it be minimal. </p>
+
If it is going to be translated internationally it is probably better that it be minimal.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Exactly. It keeps the bulk of the material down as well as making it more translatable. Another recent development is more active collaboration in writing through writing teams. Those writers could be around the world. It is not necessary to have all the writers in the same place. Sometimes a company will make one aspect of a product in one country and another aspect in a second country and put it together in a third country. There could be writing teams in all those countries and online on the Internet and they can collaborate to turn out documents. The Internet has brought on its own set of problems with regard to copyright, ethics, privacy and so forth. Those all have to be considered by the writers. </p>
+
Exactly. It keeps the bulk of the material down as well as making it more translatable. Another recent development is more active collaboration in writing through writing teams. Those writers could be around the world. It is not necessary to have all the writers in the same place. Sometimes a company will make one aspect of a product in one country and another aspect in a second country and put it together in a third country. There could be writing teams in all those countries and online on the Internet and they can collaborate to turn out documents. The Internet has brought on its own set of problems with regard to copyright, ethics, privacy and so forth. Those all have to be considered by the writers.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Does the PCS consider all of those active issues in its conferences and newsletters? </p>
+
Does the PCS consider all of those active issues in its conferences and newsletters?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. These issues have definitely been covered at the conferences and in the ''Transactions''. This kind of activity has increased corporate awareness. Corporations are now much more interested in having their people trained in the necessary writing, editing and so forth. The corporations are more interested now in understanding the need for this communication and the fact that their engineers and managers spend a lot of time communicating. That awareness within the companies has come a long distance in the past thirty years. Now that does not necessarily mean that the companies are going to spend a lot of money on it, but they are much more aware of it and are doing things that point in the right direction. The ''Transactions'' authors have done all sorts of analyses on whether it is better to present something in one direction in a sort of prose or flowing type or to present it in a bulleted list or that sort of thing. They have done lots of studies on what is good in that line. There are a lot of ongoing classes nowadays which our universities call distance learning. It allows the engineers to stay in their own locations and some professor will give a class online. </p>
+
Yes. These issues have definitely been covered at the conferences and in the ''Transactions''. This kind of activity has increased corporate awareness. Corporations are now much more interested in having their people trained in the necessary writing, editing and so forth. The corporations are more interested now in understanding the need for this communication and the fact that their engineers and managers spend a lot of time communicating. That awareness within the companies has come a long distance in the past thirty years. Now that does not necessarily mean that the companies are going to spend a lot of money on it, but they are much more aware of it and are doing things that point in the right direction. The ''Transactions'' authors have done all sorts of analyses on whether it is better to present something in one direction in a sort of prose or flowing type or to present it in a bulleted list or that sort of thing. They have done lots of studies on what is good in that line. There are a lot of ongoing classes nowadays which our universities call distance learning. It allows the engineers to stay in their own locations and some professor will give a class online.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>IEEE’s Educational Activities department is now getting into that. They have something called "Expert Now," which has sort of glorified animated PowerPoint presentations with voiceovers online that can credit people with educational units and so forth. </p>
+
IEEE’s Educational Activities department is now getting into that. They have something called "Expert Now," which has sort of glorified animated PowerPoint presentations with voiceovers online that can credit people with educational units and so forth.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>[[Oral-History:Ron Blicq|Ron Blicq]], whom I know you are going to see in Winnipeg, has been interested in that for quite some time and has a couple of his own products along that line. </p>
+
[[Oral-History:Ron Blicq|Ron Blicq]], whom I know you are going to see in Winnipeg, has been interested in that for quite some time and has a couple of his own products along that line.  
  
<p>The other main problems with the Internet are hacking and spam. Those things have to be treated. There are also issues with multilingual and multicultural texts– I think I mentioned that already – and the concept of usability. Can people actually use what is written? Well, sometimes, like the example of the clock radio manual I mentioned earlier, we still cannot really use it, but at least nowadays many companies and universities have whole departments devoted to usability. The technical communications departments definitely have a usability aspect to them. Often they will hire a firm to sort of go into a jury room with their user's guides and see if they can actually use and understand them. Usability has become a very big issue in the past couple of decades. With international communication a lot of document-sharing and cross-functional teams can be implemented. A company might assign a team of people to put together the documentation that includes not just the writers and editors but some of the actual development engineers and a person from usability staff. All those people have to be trained. I guess that's it primarily. There are these new presentation tools. Everybody puts his presentation into PowerPoint now. </p>
+
The other main problems with the Internet are hacking and spam. Those things have to be treated. There are also issues with multilingual and multicultural texts– I think I mentioned that already – and the concept of usability. Can people actually use what is written? Well, sometimes, like the example of the clock radio manual I mentioned earlier, we still cannot really use it, but at least nowadays many companies and universities have whole departments devoted to usability. The technical communications departments definitely have a usability aspect to them. Often they will hire a firm to sort of go into a jury room with their user's guides and see if they can actually use and understand them. Usability has become a very big issue in the past couple of decades. With international communication a lot of document-sharing and cross-functional teams can be implemented. A company might assign a team of people to put together the documentation that includes not just the writers and editors but some of the actual development engineers and a person from usability staff. All those people have to be trained. I guess that's it primarily. There are these new presentation tools. Everybody puts his presentation into PowerPoint now.  
  
 
=== PowerPoint  ===
 
=== PowerPoint  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I wanted to ask you about that, because you mentioned putting cartoons into slides years ago. I know from my experience in those days it probably involved putting it on a photo stand, masking the cartoon, taking a photograph and turning it into an actual physical slide. </p>
+
I wanted to ask you about that, because you mentioned putting cartoons into slides years ago. I know from my experience in those days it probably involved putting it on a photo stand, masking the cartoon, taking a photograph and turning it into an actual physical slide.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. </p>
+
Yes.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>On the one hand PowerPoint sort of replaces that, and that makes it easier. However there is a well-known academic turned consultant named Edward Tufte who is very critical of PowerPoint. I don't know if you have run across his work. </p>
+
On the one hand PowerPoint sort of replaces that, and that makes it easier. However there is a well-known academic turned consultant named Edward Tufte who is very critical of PowerPoint. I don't know if you have run across his work.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes I have. </p>
+
Yes I have.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I think he started as a statistician, and became a consultant on how to present statistics, and then turned to public communication more broadly. He has written several popular books, and the most recent claimed that PowerPoint is hurting communication at corporations and other venues, because it forces the presenter into a very narrow and simplified scheme. </p>
+
I think he started as a statistician, and became a consultant on how to present statistics, and then turned to public communication more broadly. He has written several popular books, and the most recent claimed that PowerPoint is hurting communication at corporations and other venues, because it forces the presenter into a very narrow and simplified scheme.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I have not actually read them cover to cover, but I have browsed through all of Tufte's books. I think his descriptions of various ways to use graphics and make it meaningful and understandable are absolutely wonderful. I can empathize that PowerPoint is doing exactly as he says. There is not a whole lot of choice nowadays. Unless speakers or engineers have a big graphics support department, they are forced to do much of their own creativity at their own terminals. Microsoft is sort of a monopoly, so PowerPoint has sort of become "it," just as Excel has become "it" for spreadsheets, and Word has become “it” for word processors. I use WordPerfect for my word processing. I think it's a much better word-processing program than Word. I also use Lotus Notes since before IBM bought it. But people send me stuff in Excel and Word, so that is why I buy all of them so that I can open their files and look at them. I empathize with Tufte, but if he thinks he can change it he has got a very hard job. </p>
+
I have not actually read them cover to cover, but I have browsed through all of Tufte's books. I think his descriptions of various ways to use graphics and make it meaningful and understandable are absolutely wonderful. I can empathize that PowerPoint is doing exactly as he says. There is not a whole lot of choice nowadays. Unless speakers or engineers have a big graphics support department, they are forced to do much of their own creativity at their own terminals. Microsoft is sort of a monopoly, so PowerPoint has sort of become "it," just as Excel has become "it" for spreadsheets, and Word has become “it” for word processors. I use WordPerfect for my word processing. I think it's a much better word-processing program than Word. I also use Lotus Notes since before IBM bought it. But people send me stuff in Excel and Word, so that is why I buy all of them so that I can open their files and look at them. I empathize with Tufte, but if he thinks he can change it he has got a very hard job.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Many people have tried go up against Microsoft and few have succeeded. </p>
+
Many people have tried go up against Microsoft and few have succeeded.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Right. I think basically – at least academically or theoretically – he is right, but in a practical sense I don't think a whole lot is going to happen. Individuals do not have the resources to create the kind of graphics that he has espoused and written about. </p>
+
Right. I think basically – at least academically or theoretically – he is right, but in a practical sense I don't think a whole lot is going to happen. Individuals do not have the resources to create the kind of graphics that he has espoused and written about.  
  
 
=== Interactions of academia, the IEEE, and the PCS  ===
 
=== Interactions of academia, the IEEE, and the PCS  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
 +
 
 +
You mentioned academic studies of communication. How much does the work of the PCS overlap with or be informed by the work of communication schools at universities, which are often schools of communication and library science? For example, the IEEE Center is affiliated with Rutgers University, and at Rutgers there is a School of Information and Library Sciences (SCILS). SCILS includes psychologists, sociologists, and so forth. How does the technical writer get involved with that?
  
<p>You mentioned academic studies of communication. How much does the work of the PCS overlap with or be informed by the work of communication schools at universities, which are often schools of communication and library science? For example, the IEEE Center is affiliated with Rutgers University, and at Rutgers there is a School of Information and Library Sciences (SCILS). SCILS includes psychologists, sociologists, and so forth. How does the technical writer get involved with that? </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
Our membership is very broad. It is not limited by any means to academia, but within academia it is broad and it does include psychologists and so forth. Generally we have people who know about the various psychological studies and if they are oriented towards technical communication we are one of the journals of choice for that kind of publication. Of course our editors are supposedly very active in trying to solicit that kind of thing so they do not limit themselves to the one university in which they work.
  
<p>Our membership is very broad. It is not limited by any means to academia, but within academia it is broad and it does include psychologists and so forth. Generally we have people who know about the various psychological studies and if they are oriented towards technical communication we are one of the journals of choice for that kind of publication. Of course our editors are supposedly very active in trying to solicit that kind of thing so they do not limit themselves to the one university in which they work. </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
The PCS is really an IEEE society that had impact outside of engineering and technology narrowly construed, because there are all these other areas where "technical" meaning non-layperson communication. It could be in medicine or law, for example. Lawyers have to communicate technically in the sense that law has certain techniques that must be followed. Therefore we have an impact more broad than just electrical engineering.
  
<p>The PCS is really an IEEE society that had impact outside of engineering and technology narrowly construed, because there are all these other areas where "technical" meaning non-layperson communication. It could be in medicine or law, for example. Lawyers have to communicate technically in the sense that law has certain techniques that must be followed. Therefore we have an impact more broad than just electrical engineering. </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
<flashmp3>469 - joenk - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<p>Absolutely. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if our effect was much broader. I think that many people in the IEEE and many societies have simply never heard of us. I think we have a greater effect outside the IEEE than inside. It has been very frustrating to try to get our foot in the door. We have more effect outside in a variety of fields. I mentioned the patent issues and books that we did, which had very broad distribution. If a communication professor studies some kind of medical publication or psychological publication or something else, it could very easily wind up in our Transactions or maybe even more likely at one of our conferences. So, the position of PCS within IEEE has been frustrating. These other academics have recognized our value for some time, but it is only since maybe the late '90s that the IEEE agreed that a bachelor's degree in technical communication was adequate and sufficient for a membership in the IEEE. Previously one had to show an engineering or physics degree or something like that in order to get in. It has only been a decade since they agreed to accept a technical communication degree. </p>
+
Absolutely. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if our effect was much broader. I think that many people in the IEEE and many societies have simply never heard of us. I think we have a greater effect outside the IEEE than inside. It has been very frustrating to try to get our foot in the door. We have more effect outside in a variety of fields. I mentioned the patent issues and books that we did, which had very broad distribution. If a communication professor studies some kind of medical publication or psychological publication or something else, it could very easily wind up in our Transactions or maybe even more likely at one of our conferences. So, the position of PCS within IEEE has been frustrating. These other academics have recognized our value for some time, but it is only since maybe the late '90s that the IEEE agreed that a bachelor's degree in technical communication was adequate and sufficient for a membership in the IEEE. Previously one had to show an engineering or physics degree or something like that in order to get in. It has only been a decade since they agreed to accept a technical communication degree.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>That must have been a boost for the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|PCS]]. </p>
+
That must have been a boost for the [[IEEE Professional Communication Society History|PCS]].  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Absolutely. We were very happy to see that. Of course it came about because of our lobbying for it. The problem is we have no Fellows who became Fellows because of communication ability. It's a catch-22. We can propose someone who is like Tufte and a light in communications, but they are never chosen as Fellows because there are no other Fellows in the field to recommend or support them. Therefore we are currently lobbying IEEE to get some kind of relief from that — to be able to propose a Fellow and have only, say, a senior member's recommendation or several senior members, because all the Fellows have gotten there from some technical innovation. </p>
+
Absolutely. We were very happy to see that. Of course it came about because of our lobbying for it. The problem is we have no Fellows who became Fellows because of communication ability. It's a catch-22. We can propose someone who is like Tufte and a light in communications, but they are never chosen as Fellows because there are no other Fellows in the field to recommend or support them. Therefore we are currently lobbying IEEE to get some kind of relief from that — to be able to propose a Fellow and have only, say, a senior member's recommendation or several senior members, because all the Fellows have gotten there from some technical innovation.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Right. As you say, you need the foot in the door because once you have a dozen Fellows then they can look around and nominate other individuals to join them. </p>
+
Right. As you say, you need the foot in the door because once you have a dozen Fellows then they can look around and nominate other individuals to join them.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Then the IEEE would feel that they are qualified to choose a next Fellow. We have not got that at present. Some of our members are Fellows, but they became Fellows by virtue of their purely technical work. </p>
+
Then the IEEE would feel that they are qualified to choose a next Fellow. We have not got that at present. Some of our members are Fellows, but they became Fellows by virtue of their purely technical work.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>They should use that to help you lobby effectively. </p>
+
They should use that to help you lobby effectively.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>We're trying. </p>
+
We're trying.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>It sounds to me like we are looking at a good time for professional communication going forward. It is needed more than ever, and there seems to be creeping awareness by the powers that be that it is needed. Are you optimistic for the future? </p>
+
It sounds to me like we are looking at a good time for professional communication going forward. It is needed more than ever, and there seems to be creeping awareness by the powers that be that it is needed. Are you optimistic for the future?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes, definitely. We have a large membership outside the IEEE, people interested – associates or affiliates, whatever they are called – and then libraries that subscribe to the ''Transactions''. We have trouble around the IEEE because if an engineer is going to spend the amount of money it costs for a yearly subscription fee, he heads for a technical journal or book rather than our communication. That is understandable. In the same way, in going to a conference he might very well have to pay a registration fee of $500. He is therefore going to put that money toward a technical conference as opposed to one of ours. Therefore we have great difficulties making any real headway within the IEEE. </p>
+
Yes, definitely. We have a large membership outside the IEEE, people interested – associates or affiliates, whatever they are called – and then libraries that subscribe to the ''Transactions''. We have trouble around the IEEE because if an engineer is going to spend the amount of money it costs for a yearly subscription fee, he heads for a technical journal or book rather than our communication. That is understandable. In the same way, in going to a conference he might very well have to pay a registration fee of $500. He is therefore going to put that money toward a technical conference as opposed to one of ours. Therefore we have great difficulties making any real headway within the IEEE.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Right. If you can raise awareness outside, if the companies might come back to the engineers and say, "We give you time off to go off to conferences. Maybe you should consider this communication conference this year rather than a technical conference, because that would help your job performance." Then that will raise the awareness and the cooperation of IEEE. </p>
+
Right. If you can raise awareness outside, if the companies might come back to the engineers and say, "We give you time off to go off to conferences. Maybe you should consider this communication conference this year rather than a technical conference, because that would help your job performance." Then that will raise the awareness and the cooperation of IEEE.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Theoretically, absolutely yes. I am sure that does happen to some small extent, but you take a department manager in an engineering firm who may have five or ten engineers working for him, and in the past few decades he's got tight budgets and he is not going to make that kind of a choice. He might buy a book, he might have an invited speaker on technical communication, he might allow one of his engineers to do one of these online courses or distance learning, but when they are talking $500 or a new subscription they first think of technical. Those discussions are often made at the line of the first-level manager. It is creeping in, but it is slow and hard. </p>
+
Theoretically, absolutely yes. I am sure that does happen to some small extent, but you take a department manager in an engineering firm who may have five or ten engineers working for him, and in the past few decades he's got tight budgets and he is not going to make that kind of a choice. He might buy a book, he might have an invited speaker on technical communication, he might allow one of his engineers to do one of these online courses or distance learning, but when they are talking $500 or a new subscription they first think of technical. Those discussions are often made at the line of the first-level manager. It is creeping in, but it is slow and hard.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Interesting. This has been a fascinating interview. We have covered all the ground I hoped to cover. Is there anything I did not cover that you would like to say for the record about your career or about professional communication inside or outside the IEEE? </p>
+
Interesting. This has been a fascinating interview. We have covered all the ground I hoped to cover. Is there anything I did not cover that you would like to say for the record about your career or about professional communication inside or outside the IEEE?  
  
 
=== The evolution of communication as a two-way electronic medium  ===
 
=== The evolution of communication as a two-way electronic medium  ===
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I think probably the most important boost in communication over the past thirty years has been turning communication into a two-way electronic medium. We had television back in the '40s and '50s and we had the telephone. Finally the Internet and email came along. Email was not generally available to the public until ‘83. Then the web was invented roughly in '89 or '90. The Internet and email have been very big in expanding communication in all forms. Before that, less well-known but important innovations were computer-based text processing and intranets within companies. Text processing has made a lot of things possible nowadays, but basically I think the Internet were the primary tool for the past thirty years to expand communication from telephone to the kinds of things we now do online. </p>
+
I think probably the most important boost in communication over the past thirty years has been turning communication into a two-way electronic medium. We had television back in the '40s and '50s and we had the telephone. Finally the Internet and email came along. Email was not generally available to the public until ‘83. Then the web was invented roughly in '89 or '90. The Internet and email have been very big in expanding communication in all forms. Before that, less well-known but important innovations were computer-based text processing and intranets within companies. Text processing has made a lot of things possible nowadays, but basically I think the Internet were the primary tool for the past thirty years to expand communication from telephone to the kinds of things we now do online.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Do you believe these are positive developments? </p>
+
Do you believe these are positive developments?  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Oh yes, absolutely. I am a great fan of email. </p>
+
Oh yes, absolutely. I am a great fan of email.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>The new thing out of course is instant messaging. There are even companies that are introducing instant messaging in their intranets. </p>
+
The new thing out of course is instant messaging. There are even companies that are introducing instant messaging in their intranets.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I never took to that. I do not want to be available. In fact, I have a cell phone but I don’t carry it. I don't really use it. I prefer the asynchronous. I do not want to be that beholden to whoever is on the other end. </p>
+
I never took to that. I do not want to be available. In fact, I have a cell phone but I don’t carry it. I don't really use it. I prefer the asynchronous. I do not want to be that beholden to whoever is on the other end.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I am in complete agreement. I am also an email fan, and I try not to use my cell phone. The thing about email is that it is both asynchronous and instantaneous. You send the message instantaneously and that person receives it when they want and they deal with it when they want. It can be fast or slow. I find it a very useful medium. </p>
+
I am in complete agreement. I am also an email fan, and I try not to use my cell phone. The thing about email is that it is both asynchronous and instantaneous. You send the message instantaneously and that person receives it when they want and they deal with it when they want. It can be fast or slow. I find it a very useful medium.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Absolutely. I have broadband. It is tremendous. </p>
+
Absolutely. I have broadband. It is tremendous.  
  
 
=== Status of the PCS within the IEEE  ===
 
=== Status of the PCS within the IEEE  ===
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Any final words? This has been extremely interesting and I appreciate very much your taking all this time. </p>
+
Any final words? This has been extremely interesting and I appreciate very much your taking all this time.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>PCS has a very good set of officers right now. I am quite active, and everyone is looking forward to our 50th Anniversary. If I might be slightly negative, you would not be interviewing me were it not for the fact that PCS is having a 50th Anniversary. You, like most other people in the IEEE, have simply not known about us. </p>
+
PCS has a very good set of officers right now. I am quite active, and everyone is looking forward to our 50th Anniversary. If I might be slightly negative, you would not be interviewing me were it not for the fact that PCS is having a 50th Anniversary. You, like most other people in the IEEE, have simply not known about us.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>I have to plead guilty. The oral histories come to us in various ways. When people win the [[IEEE Medal of Honor|IEEE Medal of Honor]] of something like that we feel we should interview them. Often in recent times we work with technical societies, but if I was not looking directly at PCS and I went to the Board of Directors and said, "Name the ten top people in IEEE fields that we have not yet interviewed that you think we should interview," I am sure that none of them would have been a PCS person. </p>
+
I have to plead guilty. The oral histories come to us in various ways. When people win the [[IEEE Medal of Honor|IEEE Medal of Honor]] of something like that we feel we should interview them. Often in recent times we work with technical societies, but if I was not looking directly at PCS and I went to the Board of Directors and said, "Name the ten top people in IEEE fields that we have not yet interviewed that you think we should interview," I am sure that none of them would have been a PCS person.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>I am afraid you are correct. </p>
+
I am afraid you are correct.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>They would be the [[IEEE Computer Society History|Computer Society]] and the [[IEEE Communications Society History|Communications Society]], the [[IEEE Signal Processing Society History|Signal Processing Society]] and maybe the Power Engineering Society. And yet you are really the backbone of what engineering is all about, which is bringing something to the real world for people to be able to use. </p>
+
They would be the [[IEEE Computer Society History|Computer Society]] and the [[IEEE Communications Society History|Communications Society]], the [[IEEE Signal Processing Society History|Signal Processing Society]] and maybe the Power Engineering Society. And yet you are really the backbone of what engineering is all about, which is bringing something to the real world for people to be able to use.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>Yes. And we have more awareness outside the IEEE than inside. </p>
+
Yes. And we have more awareness outside the IEEE than inside.  
  
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
+
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
<p>Okay. Thank you very, very much. I appreciate it very much. </p>
+
Okay. Thank you very, very much. I appreciate it very much.  
  
<p>'''Joenk:''' </p>
+
'''Joenk:'''  
  
<p>You're welcome. I enjoyed going back over these things. </p>
+
You're welcome. I enjoyed going back over these things.  
  
<p>[[Category:People_and_organizations|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Corporations|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:IEEE|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Publications|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Communications|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Culture_and_society|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Defense_&_security|Category:Defense_&amp;_security]] [[Category:Research_and_development|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Engineering_profession|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Engineering_disciplines|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Computers_and_information_processing|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:Software_&_software_engineering|Category:Software_&amp;_software_engineering]] [[Category:Software_performance|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]] [[Category:News|Oral-History:Rudy Joenk]]</p>
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Joenk]] [[Category:Corporations|Joenk]] [[Category:IEEE|Joenk]] [[Category:Publications|Joenk]] [[Category:Communications|Joenk]] [[Category:Culture and society|Joenk]] [[Category:Defense & security|Joenk]] [[Category:Research and development|Joenk]] [[Category:Engineering profession|Joenk]] [[Category:Engineering disciplines|Joenk]] [[Category:Computers and information processing|Joenk]] [[Category:Software & software engineering|Joenk]] [[Category:Software performance|Joenk]] [[Category:News|Joenk]]

Revision as of 17:31, 30 March 2012

Contents

About Rudy Joenk

The interview of Rudy Joenk was conducted on behalf of the IEEE Professional Communication Society in 2007.

Rudy Joenk was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He majored in physics at Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a BA in 1953. After his army service, Joenk entered the University of Washington in Seattle and got master's degree in physics. He received his PhD in 1962 from the University of Pittsburgh and started in the same year working at the IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Six years later, he became an Associate Editor for the IBM Journal of Research and Development and in 1971 an Editor.

While working for IBM, Joenk also accepted the editorship for the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) in around 1977. He played an important role in establishing the PCS journal, Transactions of the IEEE Professional Communication Society and organized newsletters and conferences for engineers to help improve their technical communication. In 1978, he left New York and got a job at the IBM Patent Department in Boulder. Soon, he started a new position, putting together the Information Development Department for IBM. The Department published manuals for IBM products, and Joenk focused on good writing and editing for the manuals. He retired in 1993 after being with IBM for 31 years.

In this interview, Rudy Joenk shares his thoughts on the works of the PCS over the past thirty years. He argues that with the development of the Internet and the World-Wide Web, international communication has become important and explains that the Internet use has been covered by PCS conferences and the PCS journal, Transactions. Since his main interest lies in communication, Joenk pays attention to the usability of the Internet contents and PowerPoint, which has become available to many engineers. Although he sympathizes with the critics of PowerPoint and Microsoft, he admits that they are useful communication tools. Joenk also mentions the effects of the PCS on academia and how difficult it was for the PCS to earn recognition within the IEEE. He points out greater influence of the PCS outside the IEEE and expresses optimism for its future. Rudy Joenk concludes the interview, briefly mentioning that the Internet and email were the most important boost in communication over the past thirty years.

About the Interview

RUDY JOENK: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 25 March 2007

Interview #469 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Rudy Joenk, an oral history conducted in 2007 by Michael N. Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Rudy Joenk

Interviewer: Michael Geselowitz

Date: 25 March 2007

Place: Rudy Joenk's home in Boulder, Colorado

Education and military service

Geselowitz:

I'm with Rudy Joenk of the IEEE Professional Communication Society and conducting an oral history interview on behalf of the Society. Rudy, thank you very much for having me in your home and agreeing to do the interview. Would you tell us a little bit about your early years and how you got interested in technical matters?

Joenk:

Early in my life?

Geselowitz:

Yes, early in your life – high school and how you decided what to do in college and that sort of thing.

Joenk:

I remember very little about high school except that I think it was generally fairly easy for me.

Geselowitz:

Where did you live in your early years?

Joenk:

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I lived there twenty-one years. After high school I went on to Washington University in St. Louis. For reasons unknown I thought I would major in chemistry, but after a first semester of that I decided I didn't like it and switched to physics. I managed to come out of Washington University with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts, with a major in physics.

Geselowitz:

What year was this?

Joenk:

That was '53. The Korean conflict was finishing up at that time, so I had been in the Army ROTC in order to obtain deferments and finish college. Upon graduating I went off to the Army in Fort Bliss, Texas as a second lieutenant. They trained me in antiaircraft artillery. At first that was a great big 120-mm gun. Then they sent me up to Washington state as part of the antiaircraft defense of Seattle. Before that time I had not realized that there was such a thing as defending our coastal cities. We had a small encampment just south of Seattle and set up a 120-mm antiaircraft artillery gun. We did that for a while and eventually they converted to the Nike missile. Therefore we did some training down at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, traveling back and forth to the south end of Seattle. When the Army offered me an early release after 21 months I took it and started at the University of Washington in Seattle. I got a master's degree in physics there.

Geselowitz:

Did your physics background help at all in your missile defense?

Joenk:

No, I don't think so. It didn't hurt, that's for sure. It was a hard subject. It was hard in the way of hardware, but no real application. Once I got my master's degree I started looking around for what to do next.

Geselowitz:

What was the subject of your master's thesis?

Joenk:

Chronic cavitation in water—that is, the bubbles that gather at the nodes of standing waves. I don't know whether that has had any practical application. I never applied it. While I was at the University I also worked in a cosmic ray laboratory. Afterwards when I was looking for a job the best one that turned up was the Westinghouse Atomic Energy Plant in Pittsburgh, because they offered me a Fellowship whereby I could go to school the equivalent of one day a week and work four days. Initially I did theoretical calculations on a submarine nuclear reactor that was called the S5W.

Geselowitz:

Did you have anything to do with the so-called atom-smasher at that plant, which is today an IEEE Milestone?

Ph.D. studies, employment at IBM, and early professional affiliations

Joenk:

No, my work was all on the theory on how reactors worked. Meanwhile in school I specialized in magnetism. I finished in '62 with a Ph.D. in physics.

Geselowitz:

Which school was that?

Joenk:

The University of Pittsburgh. My advisor there was good friends with a fellow at the IBM Research Center in Yorktown Heights, and between the two of them they got me a job there. Thanksgiving of 1962 I went to the IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. I applied my degree there working in the field of magnetism – magnetic compounds and so on.

Geselowitz:

Was magnetic memory the application on which you were looking?

Joenk:

Yes. At that time, being a research center, we were more poking around. Back in those days there were not a whole lot of ties between research and development. Ties became stronger over the years, but back in the early days of the Watson Research Center in New York City and even after its move to Yorktown Heights in 1961, there were not a lot of ties. Largely we were looking at new compounds that could be used for computer memory. I analyzed some of those theoretically and made some calculations and gave a few talks and wrote a few papers and so forth.

Geselowitz:

Did you have a professional affiliation in those days with an association like the IRE or anything like that?

Joenk:

Back in those days there was the American Physical Society (APS) and another I can't remember.

Geselowitz:

The APS was and is the main association for physicists.

Joenk:

Yes, that was a main one. The other organization I joined was the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Geselowitz:

The AAAS, yes. The one that publishes Science magazine.

Joenk:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

The American Physical Society publishes Physics Today I think.

Joenk:

Yes, and they also publish The Physical Review. Physical Review was of most interest to me.

Geselowitz:

How long were you at IBM?

Joenk:

I retired in '93 after being with IBM for 31 years.

IBM Journal of Research and Development

Geselowitz:

How long were you in the Yorktown facility?

Joenk:

I stayed at Yorktown for six years, and during that time I decided that I was not going to be a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, so I started looking for some other things to do. While at Yorktown I had written a section of an encyclopedia on physics about ferromagnetism, and I had written my own papers and had edited a book for another fellow there. I was interested in technical information and turned out to be a pretty good editor. Therefore I went over to work for the IBM Journal of Research and Development, which was located in White Plains in another Westchester County community. I started there in '68 as an Associate Editor and in '71 became Editor. Generally I found that while I could not do my own personal research in all the various fields, I had a pretty good sense of what was right and what was wrong when someone wrote a paper. I could edit and find errors in computer science, programming, chemistry or physics or anything and get the author to straighten it out.

Geselowitz:

Was that an IBM-wide journal for all of their departments?

Joenk:

It was not only IBM-wide but it was available outside of IBM as well.

Geselowitz:

Was it their way to promote their research to the outside world?

Joenk:

Right.

Geselowitz:

For example, university libraries subscribed?

Joenk:

Right. In the past decade, or maybe it's been the past two decades, I think it has become available on newsstands. It has a sister journal called The IBM System Journal. Now that one is definitely available on newsstands. It can be found at Barnes and Noble or Borders or stores like that. It has always been available outside IBM. We were really writing it to convince academia and other industry of the value and capabilities of our scientists and engineers.

Geselowitz:

How long did you stay with that?

Joenk:

I stayed there until '78. I made two trips to Europe and visited all the IBM scientific facilities, ten or so places. They had small scientific centers and big research labs over there. The job was to try to get the IBM scientists and engineers to publish. We had a little bit of a problem in that even our own people thought it was an internal IBM journal. They often preferred to publish in things like the Physical Review. Part of the job was convincing them that our journal was worthwhile.

Geselowitz:

Was there a language issue when you went to these European centers? Did they want to publish in French while your journal was only in English?

Joenk:

No, we had no trouble. They published mostly in English. To get my Ph.D. I had to pass tests in French and German, but I never used it because everything was published in English. Language was not a problem. They were all English-speaking at these laboratories. Of course they could speak their native languages, but English seemed to be the primary language of science and engineering.

Geselowitz:

Were you successful in boosting submissions?

Joenk:

Yes. I became Editor and that was part of it. I was quite successful. I guess I doubled the circulation outside the company.

Professional communication and the IEEE

Geselowitz:

Was it during this period that you came to realize that professional communication was sort of an art? Up until then, people like yourself were accidentally discovered by their companies to be good, and backed into editorial jobs. Maybe you thought you ought to get together with other people and discuss best practices and publish guides and that sort of thing. When did that enter your consciousness?

Joenk:

I wish I could say that it did, but my involvement with professional communication came about in an entirely different way. Back about the end of '76 or early '77 the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) came looking for me. I had been working at IBM with a fellow named Herb Michaelson, who was one of the editors of the IBM journal. He belonged to PCS, and they were having trouble at that time with their main technical journal Transactions of the IEEE Professional Communication Society at the time. Therefore he and the then-current president, Emily Schlesinger, asked me to take over the Transactions. It was like a sudden exposure to the idea of professional communication as a field, rather than something gradual.

Geselowitz:

That brings a lot of questions to my mind. Did you know about the IEEE PCS and its Transactions because you had colleagues who were involved in it although you were not involved in any way yourself prior to that?

Joenk:

Not prior to that, no.

Geselowitz:

Did you subscribe to Transactions or anything like that?

Joenk:

No.

Geselowitz:

When you heard about it, did something click? Did you say to yourself that this is a good idea – that there ought to be such a Transactions where people could discuss best practices and so forth.

Joenk:

Of course, so, yes, I became very interested in it. One of IBM's vice presidents, Manny (Emmanuel R.) Piori, was very involved with IEEE, and encouraged employees to get involved. IBM sponsors an IEEE award in his name in the field of information processing in relation to computer science.

Geselowitz:

IBM has always had a strong involvement with IEEE. Did you know Emerson Pugh at IBM?

Joenk:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

He is on the IEEE History Committee, and I have worked closely with him over my 10 years at IEEE.

Joenk:

He was at the Research Center.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Joenk:

I don't think he will know me.

Geselowitz:

I'll ask him. I talk to him frequently. He has done a lot of research and writing on the history of IBM.

Joenk:

I knew Lew Terman.

Geselowitz:

He is now the president-elect of IEEE.

Joenk:

Yes. For next year, I guess—then he’ll be President.

Editorship of the Professional Communication Society of the IEEE (PCS) Transactions

Geselowitz:

So, there is a long connection between IBM and IEEE. Was the editorship of the PCS Transactions a full-time position? How did that work? You were editing a journal professionally and they wanted you to edit this association's journal. How did that work in terms of your time?

Joenk:

The IEEE journal was strictly volunteer work I did on off hours – except that IBM was quite generous about giving me flexibility with my time. I also got some support for the mailings and other communications from IBM, but, like everybody else editing for IEEE, it was a volunteer job. Before that I had been Mayor of Ossining, New York, a small Westchester community, for about four years, and IBM was very flexible with that as well. I also attended APS meetings and so forth. In general I had no trouble.

Geselowitz:

For listeners who don't know, I'll point out that Ossining is famous for being the site of the Sing-Sing Prison.

Joenk:

Yes, and it is still there. It was in the old James Cagney movies.

Geselowitz:

That's where the expression from which "up the river" comes – up the river from New York City to Ossining. Being a politician, like being a writer and editor, also involves a lot of communication skills.

Joenk:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

So, they the PCS drew you into editing their Transactions and that got you involved in the Society. I would think the spotlight was really on you compared to, say, if you were editing Physical Review or something like that, because it was the communication organ of an association about communicating. What it was like to edit that journal?

Joenk:

Even to this day there are many people in the IEEE who have never heard of the Professional Communication Society, and back in the beginning of '77 it was much worse. That was thirty years ago. The word communication in our title often comes out with an "s" on the end, even by the people doing the records work—they would confuse us with the IEEE Communications Society, also known as ComSoc. It was a difficult start. The reason they had called on me was because the Transactions was supposed to be quarterly, like most Transactions, but that last year of '76 it had gotten down to two issues and a total of only forty-six pages. They were in dire straits at the time. The PCS Administrative Committee (AdCom) gave me permission to do some reprinting, so I went to a lot of other journals in the communication field and got permission to reprint things. We soon got it back up to a normal size and a regular type of publication. That went on for several years, and finally someone in the IEEE began to notice us and decided that we were not exactly an archival-quality journal – at least not 100% archival. We began to work our way back to the archival type. Because we had developed a good reputation by that time we began to get more and more external submissions. By the time I left the Transactions in '84 it had been almost 100% archival-type external submissions.We had given up the reprinting. I got quite a variety of the kinds of things that I thought – and I still think – engineers really need: the how-to-write sort of stuff. I found that even these authors in communication-oriented journals very seldom used any form of graphics or visual aids to illustrate points in their articles, so I began collecting cartoons. I would use the cartoons to illustrate points made in the articles. I found that many artists were extremely sensitive to the nuances of the language and people's shortcomings in that area. You may have noticed that on bathroom door here in my apartment I have a sign, "The Department of Redundancy Department." That actually came from a “Ziggy” cartoon more than a quarter of a century ago, but it is only in the past few years that this concept has come into public awareness. “B.C.” was another good cartoon for these sort of language jokes, and another was “Herman” by Jim Unger. Single panels like “Ziggy” were best for me, but comic strips like “Ziggy” and “B.C.” were also extremely sensible in illustrating how people mangled the language and didn't know how to use it. I had plenty of material for that. In the late '70s to early '80s I gave several talks at PCS conferences that were totally based on these cartoons. I had a lot of these cartoons. I turned them into slides and gave a running commentary on the language problems and illustrated them with these cartoons.

Geselowitz:

It's interesting because I would say the improper use of language is a problem in our society as a whole. Some would say it's gotten even worse since '84. I guess there is a kind of contradiction. On the one hand engineers are stereotyped as only being strong in mathematical language and not being as strong in language, writing and communication as their liberal arts colleagues. At same time, it is crucial in engineering to communicate precisely. If you misinterpret a poem no one gets hurt, but for instance in the Mars probe where different units of the lab are using different measuring systems you have a disaster on your hands. How do you feel about engineers as communicators in general versus society as a whole?

Joenk:

I think our awareness of the problems in technical communication has increased greatly over the years. Back in '77 no one was terribly aware of it or concerned with it. I think there has been much more emphasis on it within corporations and universities that have started technical communication departments. It used to be that any instruction, even if it might have been oriented toward engineers, came out of the English department. This did not work out very well, so now, when universities take on a technical communication job, they very often put it in the engineering department. An awful lot of big universities have technical communication departments now, and I think in general engineers are doing better.

Geselowitz:

Do you think the PCS Transactions has helped with that?

Joenk:

I think that the PCS newsletters and conferences do more directly for the engineer. The necessity of being an archival journal points the Transactions in all IEEE Societies towards a more academic focus. Every time anybody gets reviewed – for PCS Transactions as well as for those of the more directly technical societies – one of the complaints is always that they don't have enough practical material. I think we do a little bit better with our newsletter and conferences than the Transactions are actually allowed to do. They have to attract academics and will be peer reviewed, so there is a lot more of the esoteric than the practical in any society's Transactions.

Geselowitz:

Were you involved in the newsletter as well?

Joenk:

During the last two years I edited the Transactions, '83 and '84, I also edited the newsletter. I again took on the newsletter in '98 and carried it through ‘04. Then we decided to turn it into an electronic publication. I figured that was the most useful time to bow out. I really wasn't that good with the web and I'd done an awful lot of editing all of my life. I had retired in '93 but stayed active in the Society. I was on the AdCom, chaired the Editorial Advisory Committee, things like that. I was happy to turn over to a new editor but I was not so happy to see it go electronic, because I find it harder to read copy on a monitor than on paper. However we have had a very good editor and she has put it in a format that I find to be quite adaptable through the tube. It's not bad at all.

Geselowitz:

I have faced the same problem. When I get electronic newsletters I skim them on the tube and if there is something in which I am really interested I print it out to read it. Do you think that is something inherent about the human eye or is it the way we were raised and the next generation will be perfectly able to read and edit quite comfortably right off the screen?

Joenk:

I think for us it had to do with that to which we are accustomed. Reading off monitors is not inherently more difficult, but it is very different. We are so familiar with paper. My grandchildren have no trouble whatsoever reading on the tube. I'm not going to say they will be less interested in reading books because they are very interested in books. Nowadays I get a special pair of glasses that are the right distance and focus for reading on the tube. I am not at all fond of the newsletters that take up the full width of the screen, but I do read some newsletters on there. I read our newsletter and I read a genealogy newsletter on the tube, but some I have to print out or skim and ignore.

Transition to IBM Patent Department in Boulder, Colorado

Geselowitz:

Let's go back to when you finally left New York. When was that?

Joenk:

I left New York in '78. That was the end of my time with the IBM Journal of Research and Development. I came out here to Boulder. There is an old Army story about people who came out of various schools in the Army. They were all asked, "Where would you like to go?" The result was that Hawaii sank into the ocean, while Alaska was uninhabited. Well, Boulder was IBM's Hawaii. It was very popular. I found a job out here in Boulder. I came out here to work in the Patent Department because of my technical editing and interpretation abilities. I was going to help the scientists write their patent disclosures. That worked out well for a while. However, the real reason that there even was such a position for me out here was because all the IBM patent attorneys were so busy with the court cases involving the patent infringement disagreement with Xerox over copying technology. Then all of a sudden IBM and Xerox settled and cross-licensed their patents. That made my job sort of go away.

Geselowitz:

Were you given any special training in patents when they brought you out here?

Joenk:

No.

Geselowitz:

You applied your general knowledge of communication. And of course illustrations are important to patents and you had that background as well.

Joenk:

Yes. That's my background. However, if you turn it around, you can say that I used what I learned in patents in my professional communication work because I put together a special issue of the PCS Transactions on patents and patenting for engineers. A few years after the first issue, we had another issue updating the field. Then much later, in '95, we put out a book. It is credited to one of our members, but two issues of the Transactions ultimately led to the book in '95. The Transactions issues were in '82 and '84 or something like that. The book covered exactly the same sorts of things but was a decade newer.

IBM Information Development Department; technical writing and product manuals

Geselowitz:

You were out here doing patents and IBM and Xerox decided it was better to make nice than to fight. What happened next?

Joenk:

I had another stroke of luck when a new position materialized, or maybe it was created it for me. IBM decided that they needed a group to write the manuals that go with their products. They had only had one or two people in each division writing the user manuals and the maintenance manuals and that sort of thing. They decided to create a separate department of publications for IBM products. We called it the “Information Development Department.” I started putting that group together and we wrote the user's manuals, maintenance manuals and programming guides and all that sort of thing. We got the staff up to thirty people or so – technical writers, editors, graphic artists and so forth.

Geselowitz:

Are they all here in Boulder?

Joenk:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

What are some of the products for which you wrote the manuals?

Joenk:

The primary one at that time was the 6670. It was typewriter that recorded on magnetic cards the size of the old paper punch cards. Boulder in general was a printing hub, and they made large page type printers and were beginning to make some of the smaller consumer-type printers. That eventually got spun off as Lexmark, which is still here in Boulder.

Geselowitz:

I have a Lexmark multi-function machine at home.

Joenk:

It probably has good documentation. You undoubtedly have bought a Japanese or Chinese clock or radio at one time or another, and found that their user's manuals are not easy to understand.

Geselowitz:

They are incomprehensible.

Joenk:

We wanted IBM to avoid that, or to get away from it if we were guilty of it. Therefore we put a lot of emphasis into good writing and editing as well as graphics that illustrated what they were supposed to illustrate.

Geselowitz:

My sense with the Asian consumer products particularly is that they clearly do not feel it is important or have no interest. For example, the instructions for clock radios made in China have been translated by people who clearly do not have a good grasp of English. They did not even bother to have a native speaker do a spot check. I find that incredible. I can't believe that, in these times of a global economy, that it is difficult find someone to do that inexpensively. I guess the assumption is that the consumer will work it out somehow. It would be much worse if you bought a mainframe. You would not want to invest in a mainframe and then find out its instructions were gobbledy-gook.

Joenk:

I think that back at that time technical writers were only beginning to be independent and put themselves up as consultants and work outside of major firms like IBM. Within IBM there was a tradition. Boulder was definitely not the first by any means. Poughkeepsie and some of the European sites publication staffs. After I formed the Boulder group, however, we began to operate as a community. We had our own set of conferences and get-togethers and things like that and worked with each other in translating and so forth for the IBM community.

Professional Communication Society conferences

Geselowitz:

You mentioned what you did with the newsletter, but you also mentioned that you thought the conferences were useful for the technical communicators. What are some of the kinds of things that PCS has done including conferences that you think were useful for the profession?

Joenk:

I think basically we have a little more engineering-oriented content in the conferences and therefore the conference proceedings, as opposed to the Transactions or even the newsletter. At a conference you get a concentration of useful papers. For instance, the conference is going to Seattle this year and I think that they have somewhere between ninety and a hundred presentations. Many of those are much more practically oriented than the content the Transactions. An issue of PCS Transactions may only have three to ten papers in it and comes out quarterly, so when we get a hundred in the proceedings of a conference it is a considerable bump up. We move the conference around the country and endeavor to utilize the IEEE sections wherever we are holding a conference. We have been in Canada a couple of times and in England once. One year we held what was in effect a second conference in Russia, and we have had some symposia in Russia and elsewhere as well.

Geselowitz:

What would you say about the level of the presentations?

Joenk:

The IEEE publication emphasis is on archival stuff and that is not the same, in my view, as what engineers really need. The newsletter and the conferences are helpful, and teach engineers how to write. In our newsletter we occasionally have a column called "Professor Grammar" which will address particular language issue as "that" vs. "which" or dangling participles. In only a few hundred words we will give a short but useful tutorial on one of these issues. One of our fellows over in France, an author, does something similar that is a little bit more in depth on different aspects of the French language.

Geselowitz:

Have you been involved in organizing or chairing any of the conferences over the years?

Joenk:

No. I have gone to a good deal of them but not chaired anything.

Geselowitz:

Have you presented at them?

Joenk:

Yes, any times. I did many of those cartoon-type presentations. I finally gave that up when the attorneys decided that that use of a cartoon did not really fit into the fair-use law. It had been okay for many years, but then some newer version copyright law came out and the copyright attorneys began to get more and more cautious until they finally decided it really was not something I could do.

Geselowitz:

I wonder if that was that because the proceedings of a conference were published. In academia we use things like that in our teaching all the time. It is not disseminated in any other way than showing it in the classroom.

Joenk:

I would use fifty to a hundred cartoons in a talk, but I did not infringe copyright in the sense of reprinting them. As far as my stuff was concerned we used abstracts, so I was not violating that part of the copyright law.

Changes in the professional communication field

Geselowitz:

You have been involved in professional communication really your whole career, which goes back over forty years. You were also with the IEEE Professional Communication Society for thirty years and stayed active until quite recently. You actually walked away at one earlier point, but then they brought you back to do the newsletter again. You and I talked a few moments ago about the way the Internet and the World-Wide Web are changing things. I was wondering if you wanted to comment on the changes in the scope of interests of the PCS over the past thirty years. Pretty much when you started you were talking about writing, and now there is probably more than just writing involved, right? There is web design for instance.

Joenk:

Yes. You might say that the PCS is interested anything in which academia is interested, such as website design as you mentioned. Yes, there is a lot of that. There is a lot more interest these days in the international aspects of communication; the cross-cultural aspects of writing and saying things in such a way that they can be translated unambiguously. There has been a lot of progress in the way that user manuals are created. We have word processing and online communications. A lot of technical information can be put into a computer and one can write about various aspects, and if a good job has been done of that one can pick certain pieces and come out with a user's guide, maintenance manual or a programming manual or whatever because all the necessary information has been put in there and has been coded properly. This approach is called “single source.”

Geselowitz:

So there is one database for all the technical information?

Joenk:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

And then you pull what you need?

Joenk:

Right.

Geselowitz:

However you still need a person who will put that into prose that is understandable.

Joenk:

The database includes the prose. Then the pieces of the prose can be picked out. There is another movement called “minimalism” that tends to try to keep that prose to the absolute minimum necessary for clarity.

Geselowitz:

If it is going to be translated internationally it is probably better that it be minimal.

Joenk:

Exactly. It keeps the bulk of the material down as well as making it more translatable. Another recent development is more active collaboration in writing through writing teams. Those writers could be around the world. It is not necessary to have all the writers in the same place. Sometimes a company will make one aspect of a product in one country and another aspect in a second country and put it together in a third country. There could be writing teams in all those countries and online on the Internet and they can collaborate to turn out documents. The Internet has brought on its own set of problems with regard to copyright, ethics, privacy and so forth. Those all have to be considered by the writers.

Geselowitz:

Does the PCS consider all of those active issues in its conferences and newsletters?

Joenk:

Yes. These issues have definitely been covered at the conferences and in the Transactions. This kind of activity has increased corporate awareness. Corporations are now much more interested in having their people trained in the necessary writing, editing and so forth. The corporations are more interested now in understanding the need for this communication and the fact that their engineers and managers spend a lot of time communicating. That awareness within the companies has come a long distance in the past thirty years. Now that does not necessarily mean that the companies are going to spend a lot of money on it, but they are much more aware of it and are doing things that point in the right direction. The Transactions authors have done all sorts of analyses on whether it is better to present something in one direction in a sort of prose or flowing type or to present it in a bulleted list or that sort of thing. They have done lots of studies on what is good in that line. There are a lot of ongoing classes nowadays which our universities call distance learning. It allows the engineers to stay in their own locations and some professor will give a class online.

Geselowitz:

IEEE’s Educational Activities department is now getting into that. They have something called "Expert Now," which has sort of glorified animated PowerPoint presentations with voiceovers online that can credit people with educational units and so forth.

Joenk:

Ron Blicq, whom I know you are going to see in Winnipeg, has been interested in that for quite some time and has a couple of his own products along that line.

The other main problems with the Internet are hacking and spam. Those things have to be treated. There are also issues with multilingual and multicultural texts– I think I mentioned that already – and the concept of usability. Can people actually use what is written? Well, sometimes, like the example of the clock radio manual I mentioned earlier, we still cannot really use it, but at least nowadays many companies and universities have whole departments devoted to usability. The technical communications departments definitely have a usability aspect to them. Often they will hire a firm to sort of go into a jury room with their user's guides and see if they can actually use and understand them. Usability has become a very big issue in the past couple of decades. With international communication a lot of document-sharing and cross-functional teams can be implemented. A company might assign a team of people to put together the documentation that includes not just the writers and editors but some of the actual development engineers and a person from usability staff. All those people have to be trained. I guess that's it primarily. There are these new presentation tools. Everybody puts his presentation into PowerPoint now.

PowerPoint

Geselowitz:

I wanted to ask you about that, because you mentioned putting cartoons into slides years ago. I know from my experience in those days it probably involved putting it on a photo stand, masking the cartoon, taking a photograph and turning it into an actual physical slide.

Joenk:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

On the one hand PowerPoint sort of replaces that, and that makes it easier. However there is a well-known academic turned consultant named Edward Tufte who is very critical of PowerPoint. I don't know if you have run across his work.

Joenk:

Yes I have.

Geselowitz:

I think he started as a statistician, and became a consultant on how to present statistics, and then turned to public communication more broadly. He has written several popular books, and the most recent claimed that PowerPoint is hurting communication at corporations and other venues, because it forces the presenter into a very narrow and simplified scheme.

Joenk:

I have not actually read them cover to cover, but I have browsed through all of Tufte's books. I think his descriptions of various ways to use graphics and make it meaningful and understandable are absolutely wonderful. I can empathize that PowerPoint is doing exactly as he says. There is not a whole lot of choice nowadays. Unless speakers or engineers have a big graphics support department, they are forced to do much of their own creativity at their own terminals. Microsoft is sort of a monopoly, so PowerPoint has sort of become "it," just as Excel has become "it" for spreadsheets, and Word has become “it” for word processors. I use WordPerfect for my word processing. I think it's a much better word-processing program than Word. I also use Lotus Notes since before IBM bought it. But people send me stuff in Excel and Word, so that is why I buy all of them so that I can open their files and look at them. I empathize with Tufte, but if he thinks he can change it he has got a very hard job.

Geselowitz:

Many people have tried go up against Microsoft and few have succeeded.

Joenk:

Right. I think basically – at least academically or theoretically – he is right, but in a practical sense I don't think a whole lot is going to happen. Individuals do not have the resources to create the kind of graphics that he has espoused and written about.

Interactions of academia, the IEEE, and the PCS

Geselowitz:

You mentioned academic studies of communication. How much does the work of the PCS overlap with or be informed by the work of communication schools at universities, which are often schools of communication and library science? For example, the IEEE Center is affiliated with Rutgers University, and at Rutgers there is a School of Information and Library Sciences (SCILS). SCILS includes psychologists, sociologists, and so forth. How does the technical writer get involved with that?

Joenk:

Our membership is very broad. It is not limited by any means to academia, but within academia it is broad and it does include psychologists and so forth. Generally we have people who know about the various psychological studies and if they are oriented towards technical communication we are one of the journals of choice for that kind of publication. Of course our editors are supposedly very active in trying to solicit that kind of thing so they do not limit themselves to the one university in which they work.

Geselowitz:

The PCS is really an IEEE society that had impact outside of engineering and technology narrowly construed, because there are all these other areas where "technical" meaning non-layperson communication. It could be in medicine or law, for example. Lawyers have to communicate technically in the sense that law has certain techniques that must be followed. Therefore we have an impact more broad than just electrical engineering.

Joenk:

Absolutely. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if our effect was much broader. I think that many people in the IEEE and many societies have simply never heard of us. I think we have a greater effect outside the IEEE than inside. It has been very frustrating to try to get our foot in the door. We have more effect outside in a variety of fields. I mentioned the patent issues and books that we did, which had very broad distribution. If a communication professor studies some kind of medical publication or psychological publication or something else, it could very easily wind up in our Transactions or maybe even more likely at one of our conferences. So, the position of PCS within IEEE has been frustrating. These other academics have recognized our value for some time, but it is only since maybe the late '90s that the IEEE agreed that a bachelor's degree in technical communication was adequate and sufficient for a membership in the IEEE. Previously one had to show an engineering or physics degree or something like that in order to get in. It has only been a decade since they agreed to accept a technical communication degree.

Geselowitz:

That must have been a boost for the PCS.

Joenk:

Absolutely. We were very happy to see that. Of course it came about because of our lobbying for it. The problem is we have no Fellows who became Fellows because of communication ability. It's a catch-22. We can propose someone who is like Tufte and a light in communications, but they are never chosen as Fellows because there are no other Fellows in the field to recommend or support them. Therefore we are currently lobbying IEEE to get some kind of relief from that — to be able to propose a Fellow and have only, say, a senior member's recommendation or several senior members, because all the Fellows have gotten there from some technical innovation.

Geselowitz:

Right. As you say, you need the foot in the door because once you have a dozen Fellows then they can look around and nominate other individuals to join them.

Joenk:

Then the IEEE would feel that they are qualified to choose a next Fellow. We have not got that at present. Some of our members are Fellows, but they became Fellows by virtue of their purely technical work.

Geselowitz:

They should use that to help you lobby effectively.

Joenk:

We're trying.

Geselowitz:

It sounds to me like we are looking at a good time for professional communication going forward. It is needed more than ever, and there seems to be creeping awareness by the powers that be that it is needed. Are you optimistic for the future?

Joenk:

Yes, definitely. We have a large membership outside the IEEE, people interested – associates or affiliates, whatever they are called – and then libraries that subscribe to the Transactions. We have trouble around the IEEE because if an engineer is going to spend the amount of money it costs for a yearly subscription fee, he heads for a technical journal or book rather than our communication. That is understandable. In the same way, in going to a conference he might very well have to pay a registration fee of $500. He is therefore going to put that money toward a technical conference as opposed to one of ours. Therefore we have great difficulties making any real headway within the IEEE.

Geselowitz:

Right. If you can raise awareness outside, if the companies might come back to the engineers and say, "We give you time off to go off to conferences. Maybe you should consider this communication conference this year rather than a technical conference, because that would help your job performance." Then that will raise the awareness and the cooperation of IEEE.

Joenk:

Theoretically, absolutely yes. I am sure that does happen to some small extent, but you take a department manager in an engineering firm who may have five or ten engineers working for him, and in the past few decades he's got tight budgets and he is not going to make that kind of a choice. He might buy a book, he might have an invited speaker on technical communication, he might allow one of his engineers to do one of these online courses or distance learning, but when they are talking $500 or a new subscription they first think of technical. Those discussions are often made at the line of the first-level manager. It is creeping in, but it is slow and hard.

Geselowitz:

Interesting. This has been a fascinating interview. We have covered all the ground I hoped to cover. Is there anything I did not cover that you would like to say for the record about your career or about professional communication inside or outside the IEEE?

The evolution of communication as a two-way electronic medium

Joenk:

I think probably the most important boost in communication over the past thirty years has been turning communication into a two-way electronic medium. We had television back in the '40s and '50s and we had the telephone. Finally the Internet and email came along. Email was not generally available to the public until ‘83. Then the web was invented roughly in '89 or '90. The Internet and email have been very big in expanding communication in all forms. Before that, less well-known but important innovations were computer-based text processing and intranets within companies. Text processing has made a lot of things possible nowadays, but basically I think the Internet were the primary tool for the past thirty years to expand communication from telephone to the kinds of things we now do online.

Geselowitz:

Do you believe these are positive developments?

Joenk:

Oh yes, absolutely. I am a great fan of email.

Geselowitz:

The new thing out of course is instant messaging. There are even companies that are introducing instant messaging in their intranets.

Joenk:

I never took to that. I do not want to be available. In fact, I have a cell phone but I don’t carry it. I don't really use it. I prefer the asynchronous. I do not want to be that beholden to whoever is on the other end.

Geselowitz:

I am in complete agreement. I am also an email fan, and I try not to use my cell phone. The thing about email is that it is both asynchronous and instantaneous. You send the message instantaneously and that person receives it when they want and they deal with it when they want. It can be fast or slow. I find it a very useful medium.

Joenk:

Absolutely. I have broadband. It is tremendous.

Status of the PCS within the IEEE

Geselowitz:

Any final words? This has been extremely interesting and I appreciate very much your taking all this time.

Joenk:

PCS has a very good set of officers right now. I am quite active, and everyone is looking forward to our 50th Anniversary. If I might be slightly negative, you would not be interviewing me were it not for the fact that PCS is having a 50th Anniversary. You, like most other people in the IEEE, have simply not known about us.

Geselowitz:

I have to plead guilty. The oral histories come to us in various ways. When people win the IEEE Medal of Honor of something like that we feel we should interview them. Often in recent times we work with technical societies, but if I was not looking directly at PCS and I went to the Board of Directors and said, "Name the ten top people in IEEE fields that we have not yet interviewed that you think we should interview," I am sure that none of them would have been a PCS person.

Joenk:

I am afraid you are correct.

Geselowitz:

They would be the Computer Society and the Communications Society, the Signal Processing Society and maybe the Power Engineering Society. And yet you are really the backbone of what engineering is all about, which is bringing something to the real world for people to be able to use.

Joenk:

Yes. And we have more awareness outside the IEEE than inside.

Geselowitz:

Okay. Thank you very, very much. I appreciate it very much.

Joenk:

You're welcome. I enjoyed going back over these things.