Looking back on Technical Communications UK 2012 conference

Technical Communications UK 2012, the conference organised by The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, ended last Thursday, and I’ve had a few days to reflect on this event.

What was new

There was a more of an international feel to the conference this year – there seemed to be more overseas speakers and delegates than in previous years. There were many new speakers and perhaps more case studies than before. Some of the new speakers had interesting content, but came across as a little nervous.  It’s great to see new speakers, and I’m sure the nerves will go as they as do more presentations.

We saw new topics such as publishing content to tablets and other mobile devices. Technical Communicators are in a good position to make best use of these new technologies, because of our experience of publishing information to more than one medium, the abilities of the software tools we use, and because our approach is not to have the presentation format and content “baked together”. This ability to adapt to future trends might explain the greater confidence that seemed to be around the conference rooms.

Other new topics were:

  • Developing community based content instead of user generated content. The former is getting users to write to a shared common goal. The latter often ends up as being “all about me”.
  • Media synchronization. This is something I covered that seemed to generate a lot of interest. This is the idea that a user can move from watching a video, to listening to an audio narration, to reading text instructions, and back again. All the media are synchronised, so flow of information is seamless.

Negatives

There were very few negatives. The audio of presentations were all meant to be recorded, but unfortunately not of them were.

There was one question left hanging in the air: How do you get non-Technical Authors to write in DITA or in other structured ways?

A good conference – roll on TCUK 2013

I look forward to next year’s conference. I’d like to see more discussions on how some consumer technology has become simpler and more ubiquitous, and how technical communicators should be adapt to that. Does that require a new style; does it now fall outside of the work that technical communicators do?

I’d also like to see a little more on using wiki-based technologies.

We work in a fast paced industry – it’s surprising how many new topics there are to explore at conferences such as these.