Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

STC Atlanta (At Last)

As I’m mentioned before, I had the privilege of working on the program committee for the STC Summit this year in Atlanta (I was track manager for “Designing and Assessing the User Experience”). As always, the event was jam-packed with valuable sessions, interesting people, and loads of networking opportunities.

As track manager, I was delighted that we had special guest Jared Spool (ALWAYS entertaining!) and Shawn Lawton Henry (from the W3C). In fact, I was lucky enough to snag an autographed copy of Shawn’s book “Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design”. The whole thing is available online or as a printed book.

Though usability and accessibility topics were prominent, they were not by any means the only buzz! STC added a whole series of career-related topics that seem to have been a hit. I saw John Hedtke’s talk – lots of good advice! – and heard great feedback about Jack Molisani’s talk. The keynote speaker, David Pogue, was very funny, and though we didn’t record this particular session, there’s a link to his similar TED talk on the STC Accessibility site (with the song and everything)!

I was also impressed with STC’s push toward incorporating more modern technology in the Summit offerings. This was apparent even before the event, with the Live Learning Center and Itinerary Planner tools, and during the event with a live Twitter feed display (the hashtag was #stc09 for those who want to follow!) and recording for almost all sessions. The session recordings captured the audio of the speakers and the slide presentations, and these two things will be synched to create a file you can access through the Summit@aClick site (coming soon – keep an eye on the Learning Center site) for more info. There’s also an STC YouTube channel, though there are only a few videos there so far. The ever-present and wonderful Rachel Houghton has already posted many of her photos on her Flickr set.

And yes, Twitter was everywhere! Many of us had special Twitter badges made – see my earlier posts on that! – and many more attendees signed up for Twitter right at the Summit. We had two Twitter sessions – a formal “What is Twitter” kind of thing during the Summit, and an informal Tweetup at a local pub one evening. I hope we can continue this sort of thing, it was a blast!

The exhibit hall seemed a mite smaller than usual, but traffic seemed good and the vendors I spoke with had lots of interesting things to say. I missed out on the opportunity to get a caricature drawn (courtesy of LinguaLinx), but hopefully some other attendees will post theirs.

For my own efforts, I was happy to sit on a panel on Global Virtual Teams with Judith Herr, Karen Mardahl, and Pam Brewer. Rather than each presenting our own opinions in a string of mini-presentations, this was much more of a discussion with the audience. I think it went well – when the recording gets posted, you’ll have to check it out and let me know what you think! The only disappointing thing about our session was that it was scheduled directly opposite Alan Porter’s “Technical Documenation and Comics”, a session I would have love to have seen. As a close second, I did get to spend some time chatting with Alan, and it looks like we’ll be attending several more of the same events over the rest of this year. I’ll definitely be grilling him for specifics later! Um, nicely, of course.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see many of my friends and colleagues who simply couldn’t attend this year for one reason or another. I think the companies that cut back on sending people to training events like this are being short-sighted. The economy WILL recover (we’ve been through this before, remember?) and the companies who ensure that their employees remain up-to-date are the ones who will be poised to move ahead most efficiently.

And one final personal note – I’m happy to say that the bookstore sold out of my “Career Tactics for Technical Communicators” book! Well, I’m sad that so many felt they needed it – the economy is tough all over – but I’m happy I could provide something useful.

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