tekom Danmark, the Danish country group of Europe’s tech comm association, is off to a good start, thanks to good attendance and enthusiasm during the foundation event in Odense on 5 November.
The afternoon combined official speeches with two presentations about topic-based authoring, each followed by a lively discussion. A get-together over dinner concluded the event in high spirits (and I don’t mean alcohol).
What does tekom Danmark do?
At 15:30, Per Sørensen, head of the Initiative Committee for tekom Danmark, kicked off the event that brought together around 40 technical communicators who represented a wide variety of industries and services from all across Denmark.
Michael Fritz, CEO of tekom (the German association), presented what tekom is and what it does. Denmark is not the first country group – there are already country groups in Switzerland, Italy, Romania and Turkey.
Holger Thater, a German tekom member based in Hamburg, will act as mentor to tekom Danmark. He explained specifically what tekom Danmark will be all about:
- The general mission is what you would expect from a professional association: To provide networking opportunities, to facilitate exchange of knowledge, to offer training and qualification and to generally raise the profile of the profession.
- To ensure that a tekom country group has a chance to succeed, it takes the explicit support of 10 tekom members in that country and a so-called initiative committee who works with tekom to found the country group and get it up and running.
- tekom supports country groups by assigning a full-time employee who is the official liaison to tekom (Germany) and a country mentor who offers guidance and, let’s say: spiritual support.
- tekom also offers a nascent country group an organizational framework of a start-up timeline and some budget with which to offer 4 events per year that are open to tekom country group members.
- Interested parties are welcome to attend the events and can become a country group member for free during the first year.
After laying out the framework and procedures, Michael Fritz officially founded tekom Danmark.
Presentations and discussions
After a short break, I had the honor and pleasure to present one of the two sessions. I spoke about features and benefits of task orientation and topic-based authoring. As it turned out, aproximately half of the attendees actually use topic-based authoring, so I refocused my presentation.
Rather than going to great lengths about what topics are and how they work, I emphasised how the company I work for uses a DITA-derived information model to write topics. My presentation segued into a lively discussion about technical opportunities which our structure and our tools offer. Strategic opportunities and limitations also came up. I was glad to offer attendees a glimpse at processes and tools that work for us, and I’m happy to see that the comparison was engaging and enlightening to many.
Bo Brandt, a self-employed technical communications consultant, shared a case study where he accompanied a project from unstructured FrameMaker to Topic-based authoring with Arbortext. It was a perfect complement: His project emphasised translation more than our situation, and he had several interesting lessons and pitfalls to share. The tireless audience engaged Bo in questions about his strategy, tactics and tools.
A little before 19:00, we gathered for a group photograph, dinner and drinks. (Okay, so a little alcohol…)
Personally, I’m already looking forward to the next actions of tekom Danmark! Since I’m working for a Danish software company, tekom Danmark is almost like homecoming to a place I didn’t have until now.
A next event is not yet scheduled, but the idea is to move around Denmark, so look for events in København, Aalborg, Århus or the like. To keep us busy until the next event, we have already formed a tekom Danmark LinkedIn group which is moderated, but easy to join.
If you’re a technical communicator working in Denmark or if you are working with technical communicators in Denmark, I highly recommend that you join the LinkedIn group and check out tekom Danmark. It’s been great to spend an afternoon with such a diverse group of enthusiatic colleagues, and I think we’ve seen the beginning of a fruitful network!