First day at tekom12

This is my second year at tekom, the world’s largest tech comm conference held annually in Wiesbaden, Germany. tekom is nominally a German conference that coincides with its international sibling conference tcworld in English. As the hashtag confusion on twitter shows once again, the English tech comm scene tends to use both names. (Which makes me wonder why the organizers don’t simply use the tekom name for the whole thing which has sessions in English and German…?)

My session on meaning in tech comm

I skipped the morning sessions, since I was feeling a little under the weather. I didn’t even get to tekom until around 1 pm, but in plenty of time for my own presentation on How our addiction to meaning benefits tech comm. I had submitted two very different talks, and I thank the organizers that they picked the “wacky” one. And to my surprise, I had about 100 people interested in meaning, semiotics and mental models! I thought the talk went well. I had some nice comments at the end and some very positive feedback on twitter afterwards.

You can find my slides on Slideshare and on the conference site. Sarah Maddox has an extensive play-by-play write-up of how my session went on her blog.

Content Strategy sessions

Scott Abel has put together a very good stream of content strategy sessions, where I attended the presentations of Val Swisher and Sarah O’Keefe (I also blogged about Sarah’s presentation). I’m not sure if my observation is accurate, but it seemed to me that there was less interest and excitement about this stream this year than at the premiere last year. As befits content strategy, both sessions I attended were strategic, rather than operational, so they dealt primarily with how tech comm fits into the larger corporate strategy.

Marijana Prusina on localizing in DITA

Then I went to hear Marijana Prusina give a tutorial on localizing in DITA. I have no first-hand experience with DITA, but I use a DITA-based information model at work, so this gave me a reality check of what I was missing by not using the real thing. Seeing all the XSLT you get to haggle with in the DITA Open Toolkit, I cannot exactly say that I regret not using DITA.

Beer & pretzels

Huge thanks to Atlassian and k15t who sponsored a reception with free beer & pretzels – and even t-shirts if you left them your business card. This coincided with the tweet-up. It was good to see tech comm colleagues from around the world (Canada, the US, Australia, France and Germany, of course). Some I had known via twitter or their blogs for a while, so it was a welcome chance to finally meet them in person.

– For more, many more session write-ups check out Sarah Maddox’ blog!

– So much for the first day, two more to come. I’m looking forward to them!

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing your observations about tcworld 2012. I’m not sure there is less interest in content strategy as a topic, but I am certain there were many interesting presentations, workshops, and networking activities (in addition to the trade fair) competing for attention this year. If I were attending sessions (instead of managing them) I would certainly have difficulty creating my own personal roster.

    I will say that after talking at length with a wide variety of technical communicators at the conference, there is (in some sectors) a general sense of frustration about the profession. Some techcommers say they don’t think they are respected/valued enough to make the case for strategic change. Others say they lack the skill set to make the business case.

    I think it’s critical that we continue finding ways to push forward the discipline of content strategy and that we showcase success stories (and failures) in order to help our peers find ways to succeed. And, I also believe that adopting the skills used by content strategists make us more valuable.

    I am enjoying my experience here at tekom tcworld and look forward to reading your further thoughts.

    Additionally, I heard nothing but good things about your ‘bad magic tricks’ session!

  2. Thanks, Scott, for your comment. You’re spot on about the challenge to choose – I know I had 2, sometimes 3 sessions competing for my attention in several slots…

    I appreciate your point about tech comm’s (perceived) lack of clout to push for strategic change, because I’ve faced this very problem. I agree that we need to address this gap and help tech comm’ers to better formulate and advocate (content) strategic improvements. Then I think we can advance both tech comm and content strategy tremendously – if this separation into two camps makes any sense any more at that point…

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