What do we want?

At TCUK12 this year, I chatted with several people about authoring tools. Vendors, other technical writers, managers, I asked the same two questions, again and again. What authoring application do you use, and why do you use it? The answers were illuminating, interesting and always useful. There are many, many options out there, catering to many different needs, and all of them have a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Alas, no matter how hard I tried, regardless of how many ways I tried to bend our requirements, all of those conversations led me to the same conclusion. No-one out there builds what we want so we may have to build it ourselves. As part of improvements to our content, …

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So that was TCUK12

It’s been a few days since I got home after the Technical Communications Conference this year, and I’ve been digesting and mulling over some of the ideas and thoughts gathered from the speakers and conversations. The conference was in a new location, Newcastle, and that brought a different feel to the event. Hard to put my finger on it but it felt a little more business like, or maybe just a little less social? Not sure, and as ever my experience will be different from others. Something that hasn’t changed was the value. It remains an excellent opportunity to learn from your peers, industry experts, and if nothing else it’s great to hear that we are doing the right things …

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TCUK 12

The time has come, so Gordon said, to talk of many things, of slides and chats, and learning facts, and something else that rhymes but I’m rubbish at poetry (with sincere apologies to Lewis Carroll). Enough of that though, what I want to talk about is the Technical Communications Conference 2012 (TCUK12) and why you should go. Disclaimer: I serve on the Council of the ISTC, who organise this event.  Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time a young (ok, middle-aged) man had started a new job and was trying to figure out the best way to improve things and solve some of his problems. The year was 2007. At the time, the young man (oh shut …

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TCUK – Call for Papers

Call for Papers for TCUK 12 Dear reader, You are an intelligent person, have you ever considered sharing your knowledge with others? Perhaps doing a short presentation at an industry conference? Regardless of your experience, or industry, the Technical Communications UK conference wants you! New speakers and experienced speakers – all welcome Regardless of whether you want to present for the first time or you are a seasoned conference speaker, we want to hear from you. We don’t mind if you are new to technical communication or if you have worked in this field for ever, if you have something to say to other technical communicators thenTCUK 2012 is your chance to say it. Industry sectors Technical communicators work across a …

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TCUK11

I went to a conference and it was good! As ever the Technical Communications Conference sparked thought, debate and no little amount of revelation. The sessions I managed to attend were all well presented, well considered and well received, and the chats over lunch, dinner and at the bar prove to me that I’m in a profession full of driven, smart and engaged people. My impression of the attendees this year suggests there is a definite change in the attitude of the audience as well, a little more upbeat and vocal, all of which bodes well for Technical Communications in 2012. As ever, I took sporadic, and somewhat random notes, and I’m happy to share them with you all… YMMV …

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Conference chatter

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things…” It’s that time of year again, with the UA Conference currently underway (see what people are saying about it on Twitter) and the Technical Communication UK conference just around the corner. We are lucky enough to be able to get to such events, even though we still need to pick and choose due to budget constraints and, once again, the multi-stream approach of TCUK makes it easier to justify. Looking at the programme for this year, there are always two sessions of interest, sometimes three. As ever, and this is something I’ve commented on before, the benefits of attending conferences go above and beyond attendance at the sessions. …

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TCUK10 – Social Media Models

As my slides are usually fairly sparse, I’ve written up some notes/transcript of my presentation. Probably best read in conjunction with the slides. Slides 1 to 4 This presentation is about models. By and large it came about after several conversations at TCUK09 and I found myself trying to explain why you’d want to blog, or use Twitter, or why Wikis can be useful. The thing is, there are so many tools available you can’t cover them all so, in the months after the conference, and in continued discussions by email and on Twitter, I realised there was a different way to discuss social media and how it could fit into the technical communications world. The kitten picture is simply …

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Thoughts on TCUK10

Flying back on Thursday evening I pondered the sessions I’d attended, the things I’d learned and the lessons and ideas I was taking home with me and one thing was missing. A central theme. Now, admittedly by accident, the 2009 conference appeared to be centred around “conversation”. Whether it was a direct with the users, our part in the wider conversation happening in the emerging space of social media, or in rethinking the traditional role in terms of how users were expecting to access information. I’d love to say that content strategy was the major theme but it didn’t seem to be, although I did attend two excellent presentations on that topic (thank you Roger and David), and as ever …

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Conference bound

There are three of us travelling down to the Technical Communications conference in Oxford. We fly down tonight, back on Thursday evening and I must admit I’m really looking forward to it. And yes, I’ve still to finish my presentation (just a couple of rehearsals left though). For those of you who can’t make it, but want a quick view of what’s going on, keep an eye on Twitter. Specifically the #TCUK10 hashtag. And for those of you who CAN make it, I’ll see you there (I’ll be the loud Scottish bloke near the bar).

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See you in September?

Are you in the UK? Are you attending the Technical Communication conference in September? If not, you really should, it’s looking like it will be an excellent conference. The conference website is starting to gear up as well, and has posted some short interviews with some of the speakers, including yours truly. They should give you a flavour of what to expect at the sessions, many of which I’m hoping to be able to attend as well. I’d imagine planning the sessions is one of the harder jobs when organising a conference, making sure there isn’t too much overlap and the programme this year seems to have a good balance. Certainly I think there is only one overlap with a …

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