New York Times column (10 Aug. 1977) with quotes from technical writers, including Joe Rigo.

The Rigo Award is named after Joseph (“Joe”) T. Rigo, the founder of SIGDOC. The award celebrates an individual’s lifetime contribution to the fields of communication design, technical communication, user experience, or another related field. Since 2004, Rigo Awards have typically been given every other year, alternating with the Diana Award.

Joseph Thomas Rigo, who sadly passed away a few years ago (1933-2020), was an American technical writer and 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army (1955). As a member of ACM, he founded the Special Interest Group for Documentation (SigDoc) in 1974, the New York Personal Computer Users Group in 1982, and the Intergalactic Users Group in 1988. Mr. Rigo graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Maine in 1955, and from there worked as a reporter for the Associated Press (1959-1964); as a technical writer for IBM (1964-1970); as assistant vice president of Bankers Trust Company (1970-1974); and as President of SYSDOC Inc., starting in 1974. You can learn more about how he was an early proponent of technical writing in an archived “Careers” column (right) in the New York Times (August 10, 1977) titled, “Careers in Technical Writing.”

Nominations for the Rigo Award are considered carefully by the SIGDOC Executive Committee. Any SIGDOC member can submit a nomination (self-nominations welcome) to be put on the ballot by sending an email to at least eight (8) months prior to the next conference. All nominations are voted upon by the Executive Committee. Winners are announced in the Spring, with the winner serving as one of the two keynotes at the following conference.

Nomination Deadline for 2024 Winner: February 15th, 2024

Latest Rigo Award Recipient – Dr. Miriam F. Williams

Profile of Dr. Miriam Williams

Dr. Miriam F. Williams is the 2022 Rigo Award recipient. She is Professor of English and Associate Chair of Texas State University’s Department of English. Prior to her career in academia, she worked as a health and safety inspector, policy analyst, policy writer/editor, and program administrator for State of Texas agencies. Her books and articles focus on public policy writing, race and ethnicity, and critical analysis of historical discourse. Her publications include articles in Technical Communication, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and Programmatic Perspectives. Her co-edited book with Dr. Octavio Pimentel, Communicating Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in Technical Communication, received CCCC’s 2016 Best Original Collection of Essays in Scientific and Technical Communication award and her co-authored article with Dr. Natasha N. Jones won the CCCC’s 2020 Best Article Reporting Historical Research or Textual Studies in Technical award. She is a Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing and Editor-in-Chief of the Society for Technical Communication’s journal, Technical Communication.

Former Rigo Award Recipients

Since 1988, the Rigo Award has been given to the following people:

  • 2019: Samantha Blackmon
    Dr. Samantha Blackmon is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. She is a gamer of more than 4 decades and studies rhetoric at the intersection of video games and identity politics. She is also the co-founder of the Not Your Mama’s Gamer podcast and blog and the Editor-in-Chief of NYMG, a middle state Feminist Game Studies journal. She is currently an XBox MVP. Her work is wide-ranging, covering technical communication, writing pedagogy, literacy studies and critical game studies. Her groundbreaking work critically examines gaming to analyze how queer and people of color are represented in the gaming community and how these users navigate the predominantly white cis online environment of gaming. Her work and mentorship of students have paved the way for inclusive design of gaming spaces.
  • 2017: Karen Schriver
    Dr. Schriver is President of KSA Communication Design & Research. She applies research on information design, plain language, and cognitive science to the design of everyday communications. Schriver is best known for her foundational book Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Texts for Readers—now in its 9th printing. This book–and all of Karen’s important research throughout her career–has been transformative to the field of information design for its scholarly breadth and impact. She launched her career at Carnegie Mellon University, where she co-directed the M.A. in Professional Writing and coordinated the Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Document Design. She also served as research director of the Communications Design Center, a nonprofit that won the Diana Award for its landmark research on computer documentation and plain language public documents.
  • 2016: Jan Spyridakis 
    Awarded for her pioneering work as a UX researcher in assessing how the design of online information affects users; and using online tools and information to support leadership and advancement of women in science and engineering. She has been described as most prolific experimental researcher with the largest number of published research articles in the last 20 years of technical communication journals. An accomplished scholar and teacher, Dr. Spyridakis is also well known as a mentor in her field and regularly and selflessly helps students and faculty alike focus their research projects and navigate the intricacies of professional life in academia and industry.
  • 2014: Patricia Sullivan
    Awarded for her outstanding contributions to the field of technical communication, her mentorship of several generations of scholars and practitioners, and her leadership in the Women in Technical Communication group. She is the author of several ground-breaking books, including Electronic Literacies in the Workplace (co-edited with Jennie Dautermann), Opening Spaces (co-authored with James Porter), Professional Writing Online (co-authored with James Porter and Johndan Johnson-Eilola), and Technology, Labor, and Writing(co-edited with Pamela Takayoshi).
  • 2012: Gerhard Fischer
    Awarded for his research on new conceptual frameworks and new media for learning, working, and collaborating; human-computer interaction; design; domain oriented design environments; distributed cognition; universal design (assistive technologies); and socio-technical environments.
  • 2010: Maria Cecilia Calani Baranauskas and Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza
    Awarded for their contributions to human-computer interaction issues including participatory design, collaborative and mobile learning systems, and semiotic engineering.
  • 2008: Susanne Bødker and Pelle Ehn
    Bødker for her contributions to participatory design, computer-supported cooperative work and human-computer interaction; Ehn for his contributions to participatory design and in bridging design and information technology.
  • 2006: Dixie Goswami and Carolyn R. Miller
    Awarded for their contributions to technical communication research, theory, and pedagogy.
  • 2004: Alan Cooper
    Author of About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum.
  • 2003: JoAnn Hackos
    Awarded for contributions to the field of documentation and usability.
  • 2002: Stephen Doheny-Farina 
    Dr. Doheny-Farina, a Clarkson University Professor of Technical Communications, is awarded for his professional contributions in the field of technical communications.
  • 2001: Don Norman
    Author of The Design of Everyday Things and The Invisible Computer.
  • 2000: Barbara Mirel
    Awarded for leadership in the field of technical communication in usability, human factors, and instructional writing.
  • 1999: Terry Winograd
    Awarded for grounding human needs and consequences of human-computer interactions (credit spratley at dresshead), productively complicating rationalistic traditions in computer science, and providing important new research directions in our field.
  • 1998: Patricia Wright
    for research on document design and readable writing.
  • 1997: Tom Landauer
    for research on the human-computer vocabulary problem and SuperBook.
  • 1996: Ben Shneiderman
    for research on human-computer interaction.
  • 1995: Janice Redish
    for research on document design and usability.
  • 1994: John Carroll
    for research on minimalist documentation.
  • 1993: Jay Bolter
    author of Writing Space.
  • 1992: Ed Tufte
    author of Envisioning Information, for research on visual design.
  • 1991: John Chapline
    author of the original ENIAC and UNIVAC user manuals.
  • 1990: Bill Horton
    author of Designing and Writing Online Documentation.
  • 1989: Edmond Weiss
    author of How to Write a Usable User Manual.
  • 1988: John Brockmann
    for research on writing computer user documentation.