In the interest of time, I thought I’d share the photos I took in Dallas with the world the quickest way possible. I quickly weeded through the doubles and darkies on my disk, imported them into iPhoto, then exported them into a new Picasa album. This is my first attempt to embed a Picasa album.
What do technical communicators do for fun?
I apologize in advance to those who hit this blog post before I added this missive. I decided later on that a link to the blog post with the photo album would not provide as much value as would a brief recap of the activity while I visited Dallas for the Society of Technical Communication (STC) 57th annual Summit, held May 2-5 2010 at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion Towers.
The primary purpose of the Summit was to gather technical communication professionals the world abroad to discuss trends in our industry, share knowledge, participate in sessions led by peers, and just hang out with other people more similar to us than those we know back home.
This year’s summit served an additional purpose. Due to the recession, the STC was almost at the point of extinction. Fees rose, notable features diminished, the profession was at an all-time high yet professionals were out of work, and membership dropped over 61 percent. Things did not look good. This could have been the very last. Technical Communication Summit. Ever.
From out of the great beyond
Fortunately, the professionals who make up the STC didn’t listen to all the doom and gloom dispensed from head office. While the main HQ shouted messages of “We Will Survive” and “We’re Still Here” the professionals retorted “We Never Left” and “Don’t Stop Believin’!” Even with the undercurrent of doom and gloom (we’re not out of the woods yet), we banded together with a camaraderie known only by the deepest of family, friends, and frat buddies.
Many of these people I follow as @techcom on Twitter. Others I’ve spoken to over email on one of the gazillion mailing lists I read. Eventually I’ll have to get around to filtering my Bloglines RSS feeds. But for now I’m content with Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to manage my incoming data flow.
Writing is often considered a lonely art. We woodshed behind our keyboards, listening to Led Zeppelin on headphones to drown out the din of our family cacophony (or to kill the awkward silence), and crank out page after page of what we consider to be the next treasure trove of literary genius. Often our families don’t understand why we do what we do. We need events like this to share our experiences with others who can empathize, and often provide cathartic relief.
Spending time with others of like mind helps us to remember why we do what we do.
OK Tony, why do we do what we do?
I won’t profess that everyone who writes necessarily feels the same as I do. However, I found similar consensus among other attendees at STC TCS 2010, purely through casual discussion. We are romantic idealists, believing that there is a greater good than what we so far have seen. We find understanding in the company of strangers who share similar occupations. We desire to grow in our chosen careers and take on new challenges that we can’t speak about with those back home.
Sure, we have stories. I could share my summary of the Content Management in a Nutshell pre-conference workshop with people back home, but only those who were there would see the humour in the professional training facilitators who brought a vast array of sharpies and post-it notes into the sessions. I could tell them of the LinguaLinx-sponsored karaoke night at Founder’s Grill, but the irony of the extroverted technical writer being the one who looks down at your shoes would be totally lost on them. And don’t even ask me to explain that people don’t fart around on twitter mobile while in each others’ company at a tweetup.
No, the stories we can share are the ones that others will find in common. After all, we are the masters at knowing our audience. We don’t reveal more to those who don’t understand what we do, because we know that 80 percent of them won’t pick up on more than 20 percent of what we talk about. I’ll bet I may have lost you on that last sentence.
The stories we can share
While we return home with a lot of stories, heads full of knowledge, and a business card index that doubled the weight of our suitcases, we will choose to share with those back home only those stories we think they’ll understand.
We’ll compare the rarity and cost of sushi in Dallas to the proliferation on the west coast. We’ll describe that Gator’s in Dallas got themselves twitter-blacklisted because they swapped out the beer bought by our sponsors, Just Write Click and XML Press. And we’ll talk about how Dallas is a fine city that we wish we’d had more time to visit as tourists.
This conference was more than just a conference to me. Over and above the educational summit, which was the purpose for bringing us all together, this conference showed us that our profession is alive and well, ever evolving, growing, changing, and shaping to meet the demands of an increasingly more disconnected world.
The Beatles may have been the walrus, but we, fellow techcom-ers are the glue, eh?
(Everybody take a shot—Tony said “eh”!)
This just in: My new TCTechCom video channel goes live
I wanted to create a YouTube channel just for Technical Communication materials. Unfortunately, I couldn’t add it to my current channel. So here’s a new channel I started just for this: Tony @techcom video channel (tctechcom)
Last edit: Updated to use standard object tag instead of embed.