Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

Demise of DocTrain

Pubsnet, Inc., owner of the DocTrain series of conferences, announced on Monday that they are going out of business, and all future conferences are cancelled. This comes just two weeks before the scheduled DocTrain/DITA event in Indianapolis. As sad as this is, there are several people trying to figure out how to replace the valuable experience that was DocTrain. Though there isn’t any word yet from Pubsnet, and their sites haven’t changed, there is a public discussion on Scott Abel’s blog, the Content Wrangler. There’s also Scriptorium’s plan to put their presentations intended for DocTrain onto their site as webinars. And an interesting discussion just starting on Bill Swallow’s Techcommdood site.

I certainly understand how difficult it can be to put on conferences. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the general chair for the upcoming IEEE/PCS IPCC 2009 conference this July in Hawaii, and we’re definitely feeling the impact of the current economic situation.

But I am confident that the content we’ll offer to our attendees and the opportunity to present and to publish that we offer to our speakers will be beneficial to the participants and to the larger technical communication field. Combine that with the opportunity to meet and mingle with the others who feel equally passionately about the field, and I wouldn’t miss this one for the world! The Hawaii location is nice, of course, but a specific venue is honestly just a secondary reason for me to attend conferences.

Though DocTrain is no more, there certainly ARE other events in the tech comm and related fields.

Usability Professionals Association annual conference, Jun 8-10, 2009, in Portland, Oregon, has the theme this year of “Bringing Usability to Life”. I like that they aren’t exclusively focused on website usability!

LavaCon, October 25–27, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a professional development conference for technical communicators and project management professionals. This dual mission tends to make the event appropriate for a slightly more senior audience than other similar conferences.

Tekom, November 4 – 6, 2009, Wiesbaden, Germany. This one is tons of fun, and don’t worry, presentations are in English! It’s also interesting to see the differences between the U.S. tech comm industry and that of other countries.

JUST ANNOUNCED! WritersUA, The Conference for Software User Assistance, March 21–24, 2010, Seattle, Washington. I am still disappointed that I missed this one this year, and once again have put it to the top of my list for next year! Very focused, a real international event, and lots of practical sessions from some of the most prolific people in our field. Not much on the site yet (it’s still earlyl), but check back often.

I will definitely miss the DocTrain events, they were the backbone of my conference calendar. I’ll be scrambling a bit to figure out where best to put my efforts for the rest of this year, and will post upcoming events as they’re confirmed.

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