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. The conversations over lunch, or dinner, or over a quick coffee between sessions make all the difference. Being able to bounce ideas off fellow professionals from different companies (working in different industries) gives you some unique views and solutions which you would struggle to get otherwise.

Add in the additional interaction via Twitter and conferences can become a mind-bogglingly fast-paced solution centre!

Of course implementing those solutions is a different challenge but I’ve yet to come away from a conference NOT feeling energised and ready to tackle things and, again, social media then helps extend those conversations.

Creating the business case for attending a conference is usually centred around the sessions, and what the value and benefits of attending will be to the company, but I think it’s also worth factoring in the availability of your peers as part of that discussion.

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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Don’t get me wrong Gordon. I agree with everything you say, but the advance of social media makes it possible to “attend” a conference virtually. There is a proviso that there are plenty of people actually attending willing to tweet and blog. Just saying that attendance is the aim but social media allows those that can’t attend to get a lot out of the conference without actually being there.

Ehhh ok Colum, I agree.

I wasn’t stating one case to the exclusion of another. I would challenge that more value can be gained from face to face conversations than via social media but that’s a different argument.

You both make good points, but I’m with Gordon on this one. Social media is great. You can pick up a lot by reading tweets and blog posts from a conference. But a lot of what happens in a conference doesn’t necessarily happen in the sessions. It happens in hallways, at breakfast/lunch/dinner, or over drinks in the evening.

Social media, for all its power and glory, can’t replace face-to-face, person-to-person interaction. And that’s what makes conference attendance worthwhile.

Kirsty says:

For me, social media, tweets, and blog posts allow me to get something out of a conference that I can’t attend due to travel time and costs. I have been spending a decent amount of my own money in recent years to attend the STC conference, Lavacon, and last year Localization World. I may not be able to do this going forward, and much as I’d love to attend TCUK or tekom, it’s another 10-12hours of travel from Australia, so social media allows me to catch just a few glimmers from all the different conferences I can’t attend. It doesn’t in any way replace attending, but does allow me to get some learning form the conferences.

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