Wednesday, July 16, 2008

STC Technical Communication Summit: Opening Panel

The panel was: Andrea Ames, Jack Molisani, Bogo Vatovec, Barbara Giammoma, Paula Berger

The main snippets/sound bites I picked up include:
Think More. Write Less.
Excuse me. What you’re designing will take a lot of words to explain. Can we please re-think it?
Installation is not a user goal.
(All from Andrea, so she is my sound bite Queen of that panel)

The main topics discussed included focussing on your company's business problems and what exactly you are trying to solve for them as you develop doco/information deliverables, is the doco you're creating even needed, professionalism, ownership of UI, gaining skills, and thinking beyond tech comm skills in developing your career.

Potentially controversial comment of the session was from Bogo, who said that our primary goal should be to get rid of documentation, and dissolve the tech pubs department. We should be reducing and making our doco obsolete.
That's an interesting thought to ponder.

Another big emphasis I noted throughout the conference, was the focus on solving business problems for your company, rather than "you have to develop this kind of user guide to be a good tech writer". Change the focus to that of your business, rather than the business of doing work.

Tech comm outsourcing was discussed (hm, I don't recall though if the "o" word was used), and Andrea suggested that we all have the responsibility for building the capability for good, high quality tech comm in emerging markets, that don't have the history of tech comm that the US does. It seems with companies starting to outsource tech comm work, roles of technical communicators in home office of those companies will change, perhaps to a more strategic role? An editing role? SME for your company/your product/your processes?

I really enjoyed the session, and took a number of notes. It was rather fun that they hadn't rehearsed earlier, and it was a great way to start the conference. It fired up my mind, had me thinking about some different angles to tech comm, and made me keen to get into the sessions and talk to some of my colleagues. So I headed off for a fun night with some new and old mates from earlier conferences! :)

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