Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

About me

My name is Brenda Huettner, and I’m a technical communicator. Also a bit of a vagabond!

Vagabond: vag·a·bond n. A person without a permanent home who moves from place to place; a wanderer; a rover.

“Prince of Vagabonds” n. (Colloquial) The nickname for Harry A Franck, a popular and prolific travel author who published over 30 books during his lifetime.

As a contract technical communicator, I move around alot from company to company. I also find that I’m constantly moving around in other related fields (usability, project management, public relations, training, web design, accessibility, and more.) I’ve got a tiny publishing company (2 titles so far!) and I sometimes write books for other publishers. I participate as a volunteer for several organizations, including the STC and the IEEE/PCS. I’m principal, owner, writer, editor, and chief gopher for my company, P-N Designs, Inc. in Tucson Arizona.

The one unifying idea behind all my projects is communication–we are all trying to connect with one another (with varying levels of success!) and I am generally fascinated by the mechanisms we use to do this.

One of my favorite authors is Harry Franck. He published books in a time when people didn’t often stray far from their homes, and his books had two primary distinguishing features:

  • He worked and lived and talked to the people of each place he visited, not just the tourist places and not just the rulers.
  • He took a ton of photographs along the way, a huge innovation for the times! There’s a picture of a wood turner in Damascus in 1908, photos of the Panama Canal as it was being built; a portrait of an Eskimo mother and child from 1938; and thousands more spanning almost 50 years.

The lesson here for me? He used both text AND pictures to communicate, a lesson we’re all learning again as the World Wide Web becomes a dominant means of communication, and even things like cell phones and hand-held toys are increasing their capacity for multimedia delivery. Plus he was my husband’s grandfather, so I am lucky enough to have a large collection of his books, articles, and memorabilia. For example, here’s the “Royal Order of a Million Elephants and a White Parasol” given to Harry A. Franck by the King of Luang Prabang in 1924. A fine honor!

The Order of A Million Elephants and a White Parasol

See? Just in this short peice I’ve wandered all the way from technical communication to elephants and parasols. I’ve usually got a lot of projects going at once, and I hope that this blog will help me keep track of those projects and the other interesting things that pop up from time to time.

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