Technical Communicators Conference 2017 wrapup
This week I attended the Technical Communicators Conference 2017, the annual conference of the Australian Society for Technical Communication (ASTC). This post is a summary of my impressions of the conference, with links to the posts I’ve written about each session.
I thoroughly enjoyed this conference, with its atmosphere of dedicated professionalism mixed with warm friendliness. The event took place in Sydney, Australia, filling two days with 14 technical sessions. By my rough estimate (I counted the tables at lunch) there were around 60 attendees. Most were from Melbourne and Sydney. A few people flew in from New Zealand, one from the west coast of Australia, and one from the US. Let me know if I’ve missed out any other travellers from far-flung places!
As is often the case with conferences, one of the best parts was meeting and talking to people face to face. Many were old friends whom I’ve met at other gatherings over the years. It was also great to make new friends.
A common theme arose in my conversations with the other writers. Those who have a role in a company or organisation find that there’s way to much work for them to handle. Even if they’re lucky enough to work with one or more other writers, there’s still a firehose of work pouring down on them. (This wasn’t so much the case with the writers who run their own businesses.) The people I spoke to said it was a good position to be in, yet at the same time they wished the organisations would allocate more budget and/or make more tech writing positions available. The writers feel strongly that they’re making a large contribution to the customer experience or process efficiency of their organisation, and could improve things even more if there were more writers around.
I think this sentiment is a very positive trend. Tech writers recognise their worth and feel that they’re doing valuable work. There was no frustration in the way people spoke. No-one said that their work went unrecognised within the organisation. They just wished there were more of them around.
The nice thing about a smallish conference is that you meet the same people more than once during the course of the two days, and can build up a relationship with them over that time. Most people attended all the sessions (there was only one track). People exchanged opinions enthusiastically during and after the sessions. During some sessions there were even jokes flying around between presenter and audience members.
Here are my posts about the sessions, in reverse chronological order, with the conference’s last session at the top of the list:
- Yes but I have my phone by Grant Mackenzie
- The vibe of XSL-T by Tony Self
- Writing micro-content by Margaret Hassall
- Documenting the tools you use by Swapnil Ogale
- The wonder of walkthroughs by Sonja McShane
- CSS Variables by Dave Gash
- Framework for evaluating communication by Neil James
- A tech writer, a map, and an app by Sarah Maddox (that’s me)
- Customising Microsoft Word by Rhonda Bracey
- Collaborating with developers by Dash Gash
- Get your words in order by Sonja McShane
- Bootstrap by Grant Noble
- Structuring content by Margaret Hassall
- Ten terms you thought you understood by Tony Self
Thank you so much to the ASTC committee and the conference organisers, for all the hard work you’ve put into this conference. It was excellent. Thanks also to the presenters who put so much time and energy into preparing and presenting the talks.