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Sydney Write the Docs meetup next week

If you’re interested in technical documentation or technical communication, and if you’re in Sydney on 15 August, you’re invited to this meetup!

The Write the Docs Sydney meetup is a welcoming, diverse group of people who get together to chat about technical documentation. You don’t need to be a technical writer to join. All you need is an interest in technical communication. Any perspective is welcome and valued.

Meetup details

Date and time: Thursday 15 August 2019 at 6 pm.

Place: The Google offices, 48 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont (map).

Theme: It’s all about communication.

Signup/registration: Meetup

Speakers

I’m delighted by the difference in perspective and subject matter that the two speakers offer at this meetup.

Sanket Totewar is a technical writer, digital product manager, and strategist. His talk is titled, Measuring success in terms of documentation.

Sara Ratner is a specialist and researcher in education. Her session will revolve around the importance of teaching communication skills in the classroom.

Hope to see you there!

You can find out more about Write the Docs at the Write the Docs website. For more about Australian meetups in Sydney and other cities, visit Write the Docs Australia on Meetup.

Are you interested in speaking at a future event? Add a comment to the meetup when you register, or add a comment to this blog.

Upcoming meetup in Sydney: open source, change in the digital age, developer docs, and you!

The Write the Docs AU community is holding a meetup in Sydney on Thursday, 21 February. 

If you have a view on technical documentation, you’re invited!

Date and time: Thursday, 21 February 2019, at 6pm – 7:30pm

Location: Google, 48 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont (map)

Sign up on Meetup.com

There’s pizza and the opportunity to chat with friends old and new. Then we’ll move quickly to the exciting lineup of talks:

Building awesome technical writers from open source communities

Speaker: Cameron Shorter

The secrets behind inspiring an open source software community to write awesome docs. A story about how we initially got it wrong before improving. (Spoiler – technical writers play a cornerstone role).

Cameron is a software developer, business analyst, open source community builder, and accidental technical writer.

Tech Writers as Agents of Change in the Digital Age

Speaker: Priya Varghese

As we race through the digital era, swiping away one app after another, there are numerous companies and organizations out there that haven’t yet strapped themselves in properly for the digital transformation roller coaster.

Priya Varghese (a technical writer) talks about how technical communicators can become agents of change (in a disguised double role), with the key skills, advantages and vantage points to successfully help their teams on board the digital transformation journey.

Getting started for developer documentation

A lightning talk.

Deepti Korwar, a technical writer, talks about the necessary skills and available resources for writers considering to move into developer documentation roles.

Lightning talk 2

This five-minute spot is open. Suspense! Someone may stand up and speak impromptu at the event.

See you there!

Report from Write the Docs Australia conference

Last week I attended Write the Docs Australia 2018 in Melbourne. Around 100 documentarians gathered to discuss words, code, style, and other essentials relating to technical documentation. There was plenty of food and fun too.

“What’s a documentarian,” you may be wondering? In Write the Docs parlance, a documentarian is someone who cares about documentation. Documentarians include technical writers and communicators, as you’d expect, but also UX writers, software engineers, marketing content writers, and more. If you think docs are a Good Thing, you’re in. 🙂

Approximately 100 people attended Write the Docs AU this year. Attendees came from Australia, the APAC region, and around the world. The following photo is from the Write the Docs photo set on Flickr:

Talks, workshops, and unconference sessions

The talks included:

  • Lana Brindley: Facebook, Dynamite, Uber, Bombs, and You
  • Mike Hamilton: Responsive Content – Presenting Your information On Any Device
  • Kristine Sihto: The Art of Consistency – Creating an inhouse style guide
  • Abhay Chokshi: UX writing – Let your product speak
  • Alexandra Perkins: Making Yourself Redundant on Day One – Internal documentation to teach the next hire what you’ve learned
  • Matthew Borden: Good Code, Bad Code & Code Review
  • Nicola Nye: The subtle art of interrogation
  • Daniel Stevens: Creating experiences with information!
  • Laura Bailey: Backseat Content Strategy
  • Mathew Patterson: Power up your support team to create better documentation

In addition to the presentations, we heard a number of informative, entertaining lightning talks. People could choose to attend one or more workshops and run or participate in a few thought-provoking unconference sessions.

These were the workshops:

  • Sarah Maddox: Tech Writing 101
  • Sara Marek: Let’s create a Style Guide!
  • Jessica Parsons: Static Site Generators, What, Why and How

Tech Writing 101 workshop

Around 50 people attended the Tech Writing 101 workshop, which I ran with the able help of Eric Gilmore.

This tech writing stuff is hard. But fun!

Tech Writing 101 is a two-hour workshop on the principles and techniques of technical writing. It leads the participants through a series of pair-work exercises to improve the clarity, readability, and effectiveness of their writing. You can read more about the workshop on the Write the Docs AU page.

By the end of the session, participants also think differently about toothbrushes.

The workshop pre-reading is available in LisaFC’s GitHub repo. A number of the workshop attendees let me know that they plan to introduce that pre-reading to their colleagues, as it’s a great introduction to the patterns of clear writing.

Photos and videos

Photos are in the Write the Docs photo set on Flickr. Videos of the presentations are in the Write the Docs AU playlist on YouTube.

Tweets and write-ups

Read the tweets at #WriteTheDocsAU. Here’s one of them from Nicola Nye:

Have you written a report on the conference, or come across someone else’s writeup? Let me know by adding a comment to this page or tweeting @sarahmaddox!

My takeaway from the conference

So many people who’re passionate about docs! It was a privilege chatting to engineers, UX designers and writers, and marketing folks, as well as other technical communicators. Thanks to everyone for a great conference!

 

Invitation to a Tech Writing 101 workshop, Melbourne, November

Are you a software engineer wanting to learn the patterns of technical writing? Or a technical writer wanting to refresh the ABCs of our craft? Or someone who loves debating and exercising good writing styles? Join us for a Tech Writing 101 workshop in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday, 15th November.

The workshop is part of the Write the Docs AU conference, and the cost of the workshop is included in the conference registration.

Quick reference

Workshop name: Tech Writing 101

Date & Time: Thursday, 15th November 2018, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Location: Library at the Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Melbourne, Australia

Signup: Register for the Write the Docs AU conference

Prework and what to bring

Before attending the workshop, you need to do a small amount of pre-reading (about half an hour).

This is where you discover that tech writing patterns are interesting and fun.

On the day of the workshop, bring a laptop with a text editor and an internet (WiFi) connection to do the exercises.

Workshop overview

The workshop leads you through a series of exercises to improve the clarity, readability, and effectiveness of your writing. You’ll work in pairs, learning from an experienced Google technical writer (me) and from each other.

Topics include the importance of knowing your audience; what can go wrong when you use passive voice; how to avoid getting tangled up in long sentences and disorganised paragraphs; how lists have taken over the world.

By the end of the session you’ll also think differently about toothbrushes.

During the workshop, you’ll apply the principles you’ve read in the prework. We’ve found this method of learning is highly effective. And it’s just plain fun. The workshop has been run at SREcon in Europe 2017 and at SREcon in the US in 2018, where it was very well received. People said they came away with useful skills and cleaner teeth.

Who’s welcome

The intended audience for the workshop is people who’re interested in learning how to write efficiently and effectively. That includes software developers, support engineers, UX specialists, product managers, technical writers, editors – well, really, everyone who needs to write technical content.

I hope to see you there!

Instead of a picture of a toothbrush (as that’d be a spoiler) here are some patterns from a recent walk in the bush:

Two Australian tech writing conferences just around the corner

Are you in or near Australia in October and November? Then you’re in for a treat. We have two technical writing conferences in a row, within a stone’s throw of each other. Well, for some definition of “stone’s throw”, anyway. 😉

First up is the annual conference of the Australian Society for Technical Communication, which takes place in Surfers Paradise on 12-13 October. The conference theme is Let’s get technical, technical. Learn about CSS smart selectors, rethinking DITA, speeding up your web pages, blockchain, impossible docs, becoming an efficient writer, Simplified Technical English, and more. Follow up with a focused workshop on web coding. Check the list of presentations and fill in the registration form.

Next up is the Write the Docs AU conference in Melbourne on 15-16 November. This is the second WtD AU conference ever, following on from last year’s debut. This event offers a mix of presentations, lightning talks, workshops, and unconference sessions. Check out the schedule and get a ticket.

Found on a walk in the bush – patterns on the bottom of a squashed mushroom. Intriguing:

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