Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

IPCC 2006 report

I just got back from Saratoga Springs, the site of the 2006 International Professional Communication Conference sponsored by IEEE/PCS, held immediately following the 2-day Administrative Committee meeting. It was a long week, but I had a GREAT time!

First off, the AdCom is once again talking about a lot of exciting things. PCS members are involved in standards work, joint efforts with other IEEE societies, publishing efforts. We’ve got local chapters forming, our own quarterly “Transactions” is getting rave reviews around the world, and our upcoming conference schedule looks fabulous. For my tiny part, I’ll be working on the 50th Anniversary Celebration as part of next year’s IPCC in Seattle – that’s right, the Professional Communication Society has been around almost 50 years. Check it all out at

Then I went straight from there to the IPCC 2006 event. First of all, let me say that Saratoga Springs is gorgeous in the fall. We had good weather (though cooler than here in Tucson) and a venue smack in the middle of a state park.

The opening speaker was Elliott Massie, who told a bunch of stories about, among other things, the power of stories and the importance of community. The other keynote was John Carroll, who was actually with us specifically to accept his award as IEEE Fellow. Congratulations, John!

In the main part of the program, there were four concurrent sessions in each time block so I couldn’t make it to nearly as many sessions as I wanted to. Luckily, I was able to chat with most of the presenters during the breaks or in the evenings. I’m particularly interested in following up on some research by Tom Orr and Laurence Anthony on Q&A sessions after presentations. They’re currently focused on the differences between Japanese native speakers and English-language speakers, but I hope they expand this (and then tell me about what they learn).

There was also an interesting presentation about usability in human-like robots, and a panel that talked about becoming a book author (as opposed to writing manuals).

All that was nice, but the real exciting part of this and every conference for me is that opportunity to meet new people and hear what they’re doing. At this particular event, it seemed that everyone was already connected in some way – this one was that one’s dissertation advisor, or people had co-authored books together, or used to work at the same place or take classes together. The classic “six degrees of separation” was cut down to about two, I think.

And of course, we now have a big push for next year’s event in Seattle. The call for papers is out already ( with the theme “Engineering the Future of Human Communication”. Stay tuned, it’s going to be great!

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