Wow, what a week! The STC Annual Conference is not only the largest gathering of technical communication professionals in the world, it is also where the STC board conducts much of its business.
DITA and XML (and XHTML) were of course big. More and more people are working globally, so that was hot stuff too. The whole Flare vs. RoboHelp discussion was going on, with no clear answers as yet. We seem to be on an upswing, if only slightly, as measured by STC membership, percentage of people out of work, number of attendees, and general climate (which was overall mostly positive).
There was also lots of interest in the virtual arena, for individuals, for teams, for trainers, for managers. I was on a panel talking about virtual management (which went well), plus there were sessions on e-learning, telecommuting, and large widely distributed teams, plus sessions dedicated to specific tools like wikis and podcasting.
There were also lots of international participation. I got to visit with some friends from other countries as well as get new perspective from all over – in addition to good-sized groups from Great Britain, France, Austria, Australia, China, and India, I even met one woman from Qatar! In the exhibit area, the translation and localization companies clearly had the biggest percentage of booth space. There were actully more activities in the exhibition hall than usual (coffee breaks, “treasure hunts”, raffle, reception) and I guess that’s supposed to continue.
On the STC business side of things, I attended my first Board of Directors meeting in my new role as “Membership Communications” leader. The job will evolve as I learn more about it, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot. At that meeting and at several others throughout the conference, Paula Berger presented the new STC strategy and organizational charts for the 2006-2007 fiscal year. They’re well worth a look. We all also learned a bit about parliamentary procedure, and despite a rocky start to the STC business meeting, we eventually accomplished the intended goals of officially reading in the election results and installing the new Board of Directors, as well as giving the general membership an opportunity to express their opinions directly and in person to their elected representatives.
Overall, my mood as I left was optimistic about the Society, about the field, and about the future.
Now all I need is a good long nap and I’ll be ready to face “The New World of STC”.