6 ways I enjoyed STC12 (summit wrap-up)

STC Summit 2012 was everything I looked forward to and more. Three weeks ago, I blogged about my Top 5 reasons I look forward to the STC12 Summit which have since grown to 7. I’m happy to say that I accomplished 6 of my objectives:

1. Learn about new trends

I took valuable insights from several sessions, even though many of them were new ways of looking at things, rather than new trends. Here are just two examples:

Change management done differently. I’ve long thought that typical change management processes (as John Kotter and others advocate them) often don’t work for tech comm, because the sense of urgency is hard to achieve in an environment where documentation is not seen as mission-critical. James Conklin in his session “Overcoming Change Resistance” presented a new, more conciliatory way of addressing change which makes sense to me and may work where more conventional means fail.

Content models: Context, not templates. We’ve introduced a content model at the company I work for (we call it “information model”), and we’ve come across a couple of hick-ups in the implementation. Andrea Ames and Alyson Riley’s session on “Modelling Information Experiences” presented solutions to both of them: Our model will be more effective in the context of a use model – and using it in a template doesn’t necessarily work…

2. Find inspiration and solutions

Inspiration came from Scott Berkun’s opening keynote about how “creativity works sideways” (scroll down in the target post).

Solutions a-go-go for project management issues were provided courtesy of Leah Guren’s session of Tales of Terror: Avoiding Project Disasters.

3. Present my own session

I’m kinda confident that attendees got something out of my presentation – but I know what I learned from my pattern recognition talk.

4. Meet old friends, make new friends

With around 800 attendees, the summit is large enough for serious networking and less than serious drinking, karaoke, etc.  Whether the hallway track between sessions, the official summit receptions, drinks at the hotel bar, an afterhours party in the hotel’s executive suite or outings for dinner, I’ve met new and old friends from all corners of the US and Canada, England, Australia, Finland and several places I’ve forgotten.

A special highlight was Tuesday night’s music jam with the Rough Drafts, featuring Tommy Barker on guitar. I got to sing on “The Weight”!

5. See Chicago

I had set aside only a few hours for sightseeing, but got to see the Art Institute (as planned) with some fellow tech writers (as a welcome surprise) for a great outing.

6. Shop around for help authoring tools

This was the one goal that I didn’t achieve – mainly because I’m currently not looking for a new tool.

Instead, I got to talk to the helpful guys at MadCap about our implementation project of Flare. I’ve found out that I used hyperlinks in one project, though cross-references would be better – and that Analyzer can help me convert the links to references automatically. Someone who can point out a poor implementation – and its automated solution – in the space of 5 minutes is my kind of vendor… 🙂

7. Deep dish pizza

Thanks to Larry Kunz who suggested adding this important item to my list of objectives. A bunch of us had deep dish pizza delivered to the hotel, and it was delicious (if rather filling – but that seemed to be the point… 🙂 ).


Many thanks to everyone who made this STC summit such a success:

  • The organizers for inviting me to speak and running the summit so smoothly
  • The STC Chicago chapter for the helpful, cheerful hospitality table
  • Everybody who tweeted and blogged about sessions I could not attend or dinners I would’ve missed – especially Sarah Maddox who takes the cake for most comprehensive, lightning-fast blogging coverage!

Thank you all for a wonderfully energizing and enlightening time – I’d be a less competent, less happy tech writer without it!


6 Responses

  1. Great comments, Kai. I wish we’ve could’ve met at the conference.

    • Thanks, Arnold – likewise. But with close to 800 people, you’re bound to miss some. Oh, well – just another reason to do it again next year… 🙂

  2. I enjoyed meeting you in person, Kai. I’m glad that you enjoyed the conference and that you got to experience deep dish pizza. Yes, you got the point perfectly. 🙂

    I hope to see you in Atlanta next year.

  3. […] Weber posted five reasons he looked forward to the Summit and then six ways he enjoyed the Summit. See all his Summit-related posts (including some session reviews) at […]

  4. Kai, it was great to finally meet you in person. Thanks for coming to the conference. I enjoyed reading your summit posts.

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