Tag: <span>TCUK</span>

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 up) had started a blog and was finding a lot of interesting people writing about Technical Communications. From that he heard about something called DITA. To learn more, as it sounded very much like it might solve his problems, he went to a conference (X-Pubs) in Reading. He learned a lot, and met a lot of inspiring and interesting people. Turned out DITA wasn’t for him though (yet).

Later that year, he had the opportunity (entirely thanks to his blog and a lovely woman named Anne Gentle) to attend and speak at TICAD, an opportunity that came about directly through this blog. It was a smaller conference in scale but just as rich in information.

Having set a precedent of attending conferences, he looked around for another the following year and, remembering how good he found the Digitext conferences (many years ago now) he decided to attend the User Assistance conference in Edinburgh (2008). Again, he found himself surrounded by his peers, and took away some valuable lessons.

The following year he heard of new conference, and as it had multiple streams of presentations he thought that would give him the best chance of learning. He also felt foolhardy enough to present at it (but let us not dwell on that). The conference was called Technical Communications UK (2009).

And that’s quite enough babbling about me.

It’s always interesting to see what presentations and theme the conference will have, each year has had a different third stream, and this year it’s focusing on Accessibility and Usability, something I know many technical writers working in a software environment inevitably get drawn into (if it’s easier to use, it’s easier to document). Add in the longer workshops on the first day and, for the money, it’s hard to beat.

Like many people I’ve had to convince my boss it is worthwhile letting members of our team attend, but I’m convinced that everyone will find a handful of topics that they could learn about and look to apply at their own workplace, the trick is to plan to do just that.

Any time I’ve ever returned from a conference I’ve been excited and looking to apply ideas and techniques to what we do. If we hadn’t managed to implement some of these things then it would be much harder to ask again the following year as the evidence of value is a hard thing to argue against!

Above all though, TCUK seems to have a good energy, a good ‘vibe’ and everyone who attends seems that little bit more driven and up for learning, discussion and basically getting stuck in. I does help that most people stay over so you start to make friends over a glass of wine (or three) and that carries through into the next day giving the entire conference a relaxed, friendly feel.

If you only plan on attending one conference this year, I would heartily suggest TCUK as a great starting point.

Hope to see you there!

Comments closed

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 wide range of industry sectors, including engineering, aerospace and defence, transportation, services, retail, charities, and government agencies as well as in hi-tech industries. TCUK 2012 is the conference for everyone who works in communicating technical information of any kind.

This year’s specialist stream

Two of the streams are open to topics of general interest to anyone in the technical communication industry. The specialist topic for this year’s third stream is Accessibility and Usability. Proposals for presentations within this area are particularly welcome.

There is one week left before the deadline, so get moving!

More information here: Call for Papers for TCUK 12

Work

Comments closed

Firstly I’ll admit that I’m starting to feel a bit like a fool. I’ve been close to getting the new ISTC website launched for several weeks now, only for an subtle twist or unforeseen working process to scupper my plans.

I realise now, of course, that what I should’ve done was revisit the usage models of the website and finessed those first, rather than trying to shoehorn a somewhat antiquated set of processes into what is a fairly standard membership model. Oh well, live and learn.

That said, it’s not been the legacy processes that have really slowed me down, “life” hasn’t been particularly helpful either although quite how I’m sitting here in January when I’d hoped to have the new website launched in September last year is beyond me. My sincerest apologies, and please trust that I’m hugely annoyed by these delays.

The main reason for the delay has been making sure the membership functionality work, making sure that the processes for applying for membership, as well as renewing existing memberships, has been tricky, as has considering non-member access. The latter is something that only came to light at TCUK (in Sept) this year, Area Groups are not attended only by ISTC members so the website needs to be mindful of that as it will have, in the future, specific areas for Area Group attendees.

As such, there are essentially five levels of users for the new website:

  • Administrators – essentially myself (webmaster) and the team at ASL
  • Editors – anyone with the ability to post new content to the website
  • Members – access to content for ISTC members only
  • Attendees – for those who attend Area Groups but aren’t ISTC members
  • Guests – anyone visiting the website that isn’t logged in, or isn’t a member

It’s a more complex setup but in the long run it will make the new website much more flexible. A lot of the ground work I’m doing at the moment is in the background, with the hope that, this year, new features will be much easier and quicker to roll out.

And, just to prove that the new website does actually exist, here’s sneak peek of what will be launching soon: http://46.183.9.143/

Thanks for all your patience.

Work

Comments closed

“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.

Work