I've spoken at conferences, meetings, workshops, and more for years. And I would work really hard at putting together slides that would make sense when I wasn't there to answer questions. As a result, I've had some pretty slide-dense presentations. (You may have seen one or two. ;-))
As I was reading through Seth Godin's Triiibes site the other day, I found a post that said something like, "read what Seth has to say about PowerPoint." (The entire note I wrote was "Seth - PPT book".) Only it turns out that it's not a book. It's a blog post.
The post is titled Really Bad Powerpoint. (Yes, "Powerpoint". [sic]) And it's full of great information that for some reason I was just never able to wrap my brain around.
So for those of you planning on attending my upcoming DocTrain session, Four Features That Matter When Choosing a Help Authoring Tool, you'll be the first to see the results as I implement Seth's ideas. This will be fun :-)
(And if you want more information on Tribes, check out Seth's new book, coming soon: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, available from many online booksellers.)
Q3 2008 is jam-packed with conferences that cover a variety of technical communication topics. Note that in some cases, the registration deadlines are coming soon!
- UA Conference - Europe 2008. 18 to 19 September 2008 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Produced by Matthew Ellison Consulting in association with WritersUA, this two-day conference includes topics about language, tools and methodologies, wikis, portals, and more.
- DocTrain EAST. 29 October to 1 November 2008 in Burlington, Mass, USA. This four-day conference, produced by Pubsnet, includes pre- and post-conference workshops that are included in the registration price. Topics include instructions on specific tool functionality and information on project management, content convergence, XML, and more.
- tcworld conference. 5 to 7 November 2008 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Produced by tekom, this conference draws the largest number of technical communicators. Topics include processes, localization and translation, tool instruction, XML, and much more.
- LavaCon, run by Jack Molisani in conjunction with Project Management Institute. 6-8 November 2008 in Honolulu, Hawaii, US. LavaCon includes proven best practices in the fields of technical communication and project management, presented in tracks. Topics include conflict resolution, XML and DITA, localization and translation, and more.
Good luck choosing :-)
Tuesday at WritersUA
Wow...lots of sessions and networking and talking and eating and drinking today!
I started the day in Cheri Lockett Zubak's session on reusability in Author-it. She's created numerous topic templates for one of her clients that include boilerplate text to help the content developers when they're creating topics. The nice thing about all those topic templates is that they are basically a way of identifying "information types" while in development, based on the template that's being used. And she wrote this really long document that describes each topic type, what information is required and optional, the styles that will be used, and more. (She should market that document. I'd buy it.)
Next up was Luke Wroblewski's session on visual hierarchy. I love listening to Luke...he does such a great job of presenting this information. (I started redesigning helpstuff while listening to him. I have no idea when I'll have time to actually do the work.) Watch his blog...he should be posting his slides soon. And his new book, Web Form Design (Filling in the Blanks), is due from the publisher "any day now". Go to Rosenfeld Media and save 15% by entering FOLUKE15 when ordering.
After lunch, Geoff Hart and I presented our session on editing online Help. Geoff developed a process for using Word with Track Changes enabled to edit HTML files for those folks using one of the HTML file-based HATs (such as Flare, RoboHelp, Doc-To-Help, etc.) which lets the Help author pass the file to the editor for review, and then the editor passes the file back to the Help author who resolves all edits and comments. The file can then be loaded back into the project folder and compiled. The system is slightly different for Author-it and other tools with a built-in processor, and slightly different again for tools that use Word (or Frame) as the word processor, as the editor can just use the appropriate application for editing.
I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to people...answering questions or just chatting. I talked about future conference sessions with a couple of folks, and answered some Author-it questions, too.
The day ended with MadCap's mixer in the Pavillion...good food (although a bit too spicy for me), big bar, and lots of prizes.
For various reasons, I'm headed home first thing tomorrow morning. I'm bummed because I'm missing some awesome sessions...Rhonda's on reviewing the user interface, Mike Hughes' on task support clusters, Dave Gash's on XSLT transforms, Mark Wallis' on DITA pilot projects, and the closing pundits panel. But after being on the road for almost two weeks, I'm ready to go home!
Watch the other blogs for information on day 3 at WritersUA :-)
Monday at WritersUA
(BTW, Sarah is also blogging on the conference.)
I was really looking forward to the opening session yesterday...I find the topic of linguistics fascinating. I just wish the speaker had been more energetic, and I think I'm going to like reading her book.
I went to Cheri Lockett Zubak's session on procedures. Cheri's done lots of research into types of procedures, and having just left a client site where a previous consultant felt that tasks didn't need numbers, I was really interested in summarized procedures. (I still don't think the client's stuff was set up correctly, and Bonni Graham and I discussed how some subjects...like audit and security, or policy and procedures, aren't really good subjects for summarized procedures.) It was great having Cheri back again, and her session was terrific.
While I was listening to her, I realized that my soon-to-be-gamer son will be one of the folks Cheri was talking about in a few years...when the baby boomers aren't in control, the gamers will be, and the gamers don't read. (Other than text messages, of course.) But they do communicate, just more with visuals. We're going to have to change, and now I'm really looking forward to Luke's session later today because he's all about the visual.
Next session up was my panel of pundits (Sarah O'Keefe, Alan Houser, and Scott DeLoach), talking about features in HATs. We were put in one of the smaller rooms (probably based on Joe's surveys), and had people just about everywhere, standing and sitting on the floor. Jack Molisani of LavaCon was nice enough to find more chairs when he saw what was happening.
We didn't always agree, which I think is A Good Thing(TM), and we had lots of fun. The attendees asked some great questions, and hopefully the vendors who attended will take advantage of the input.
Adobe sponsored last night's reception, where we had Caesar salad, tortellini with tomato sauce and cheese, and garlic bread. On another table, big trays of cheese and fruit, with crackers and bread, were laid out. And at the end, they brought out huge chocolat-covered strawberries. The food was great, and those who won copies of the software were thrilled.
Now on to day 2...I'm going to go to Cheri's session on reusable content in Author-it, and then Luke's session, and then Geoff and I will talk about editing online Help. It's another full day!
WritersUA has started!
Over 500 Help authors etc. are gathered in Portland this week for the 16th Annual WritersUA Conference on Software User Assistance.
There's lots of stuff going on this year, and plenty of places for you to get perspectives.
- Rhonda Bracey is posting at both the CyberText Newsletter Blog and her At Random blog (which is more for personal stuff).
- Chuck Martin is posting frequently at his WritersUA Conference Blog. He's got pictures, commentary, and more.
- Mike Hughes may be posting at his User Assistance blog this week.
If I hear of any more, I'll let you know.
Yesterday was "registration day". It's always fun seeing people as they check in and catching up with those folks I only see at conferences (versus those I see and talk to throughout the year). And I got to catch up with some of the vendors while they set up their booths.
Last night, I went to the MadCap dinner...the food was great (as always) and MadCap has several announcements taking place this week. I'm not sure when I can say anything, so I'll stick with "watch for the press releases". I'll provide more information when I can (which should be later today).
Breakfast is starting soon, I'm looking forward to the opening session, and my panel discussion is later this afternoon. I'll post more later!
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