TechComm Summit in Wet/Chilly, But Still Hot-lanta

You ever stop to think about the psych/sociology behind professional conferences like the 2009 STC Technical Communication Summit?

During the first week in May, adult men and women from all over the civilized world (which is of course defined as those locales where technical communicators can make a decent living) drive, fly, float, train, and sometimes even walk to gather themselves together as one large, noisy hive organism with a four- or five-day lifespan and a HUGE carbon footprint. They did this in the face of economic reprecession, global warming, and an on-again, off-again viral pandemic.

Was it worth the time, trouble, and cost? Absolutely!

(Of course, I did minimize cash outlay and maximize ROI by driving down to Atlanta, bunking with my Dad in Gwinnet County, and commuting via MARTA to Conference Center at the downtown Hyatt Regency.)

Here’s a sampling of a few Conference highlights that I particularly enjoyed.

  • Monday, May 4:
    Keynote Speaker David Pogue’s talk was about the power of simplicity was the antithesis of a text-dense, bullet-rich Powerpoint ordeal. I especially liked the way he took Microsoft’s penchant for requiring multiple-clicks-for-one-simple-function to its ludicrous extreme.
  • Tuesday, May 5:
    DOD Innovation Evangelist Mark Oehlert shared fascinating information about addictive games where “learning is the drug.” and tools we can use to create games that can improve performance in our own workplaces. I was particularly impressed by this quote (one of the many he cited): 

    The opposite of imposed structure is not chaos…the opposite of an imposed structure is an emergent structure. (Andrew McAfee)

  • Wednesday, May 6:
    Alyson Riley (IBM Corporation) explored a whole new world of scenarios: using them internally to help shape information architecture and identify the most effective content.

I attended eight sessions, presented three times at the Instructional Design and Learning (IDL) SIG progression, and absorbed more information than I could digest. Fortunately, audio and visual (PowerPoint) content from all the sessions (except for the panels, progressions, and workshops)  will be available on the STC website, via SUMMIT@aClick.  And it will all be free to registered 2009 Summit attendees.

(I’m not sure yet what the requirements are for non-attendees, but if you check back here within a few weeks,  I’ll have a specific Web address and access directions.)