Blog Archives

Tech Comm on a Map now includes businesses and groups

A month ago I announced my project called “Tech Comm on a Map”. The idea is to help us see what’s happening in the world of technical communication around the globeTech Comm on a Map puts tech comm titbits onto an interactive map, together with the data and functionality provided by Google Maps.

When first announced, the map included data types for conferences, societies, and a grab-bag called “other“, which currently contains a couple of historically-interesting morsels.

Now I’ve added two more data types:

  • businesses for commercial organisations specialising in tech comm, such as consultancies, recruiters, publishers, independent technical writers, and so on.
  • groups for smaller groups and regular meetups of technical communicators, either as part of a larger society/association, or as an independent group.

Any groups or businesses to add?

At this point there are very few businesses and groups on the map. Do you have one you’d like me to add? Please add a comment to this post, including the following information for each item. The information will be publicly available on the map, via an information box that appears when someone clicks on the relevant circle on the map:

  • Type: Conference, Society, Business, or Group
  • Name of the business, group, society or conference.
  • Description.
  • Website address (or an email address that people can use to get more information).
  • Street address (this is essential, to position the item on the map).
  • Start and end date for conferences, or meetup timing for groups (e.g. “First Wednesday of every month at lunch time”, or “Every Tuesday at 7pm”).

Note: Don’t add the names or addresses of any individuals, unless it’s your own name and address. We need to ensure we have people’s permission before adding their information in a comment on this post, or on the map. Any information you add here should be already publicly available on an organisation’s website or other publication.

Contributors to the project

Thanks to the following people who have helped me add data to the map so far: Sarah O’Keefe, Ellis Pratt, Stefan Eike.

Thanks also to Stefan Eike and Stephen Farrar, who have both contributed to the code on GitHub.

More coming

Excited? I am. 🙂 If you’d like to know more about the project, check out the introductory blog post. Soon I’ll write another post with the technical details of the APIs and other tools involved. In the meantime, here’s Tech Comm on a Map.

Introducing Tech Comm on a Map

I’ve been working on a personal project, and I’m delighted to say it’s ready to share with you! The idea is to help us see what’s happening around the globe, in the world of technical communication. So I’ve put tech comm titbits onto an interactive map, together with the data and functionality automatically provided by Google Maps. To see it in action, go to Tech Comm on a Map.

At the time of writing this post, Tech Comm on a Map contains information of the following types, all related to technical writing and technical communication:

  • Conferences (purple circles)
  • Societies (yellow circles) – includes societies and associations.
  • Other (blue circles) – a grab bag to catch anything that doesn’t fit into the first two categories. This is also the default category for data items that aren’t correctly categorised.

To find the information, click one of the coloured circles on the map. You can also zoom into a particular city or address, by entering the place name or address in the search box.

Where does the data come from?

It’s all in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Up to now, I’ve collected and entered the data myself. I’ve scoured the Web for information about conferences. I’ve also added just a few societies, and a couple of ‘other’ items to prove the category exists. The spreadsheet looks like this:

Spreadsheet containing tech comm data for map

Spreadsheet containing tech comm data for map

What’s the plan for adding more data and maintaining what’s there?

My plan is to invite a few people to help update the spreadsheet that holds the data.  Any data added to the spreadsheet appears on the map immediately. It’s pretty cool!

How does it work?

The tools I’ve used are the Google Maps JavaScript API, the Google Places Autocomplete widget, and Google Apps Script to extract the data from a spreadsheet in Google Sheets. The code and website are hosted on GitHub.

I’ll write another post soon, with more details about the code and the APIs.

Am I planning to add anything more to the project?

There is plenty of potential for enhancements. For example, we could add more categories to the existing three (conferences, societies, and other) to include events like technical writers’ group meetings. We could add styling to the map. And other sweetening we can think of…

A number of people have already made some exciting suggestions for v2. The project is open source, so if you have an improvement to suggest, send me a pull request. 🙂


I’d love to know what you think of the map, and whether you’re excited about adding more events and other types of tech comm titbits! If you’d like to share your ideas, please add comments to this post.

%d bloggers like this: