Lots of Conferences Taking Place

Ben Minson and me at the last STC Summit

Ben Minson and me at the last STC Summit

Have you noticed how many good conferences are scheduled lately? I remember a couple of years ago, when Doc Train conferences ended, and some of us thought the STC Summit was approaching its last time — I thought conferences would become extinct. Today there are almost too many conferences. Here are some of the interesting looking conferences taking place within the next couple of months:

Last month the Intelligent Content conference took place. It seems that the number of conferences are growing. The only conference I’m planning to attend during the next three months, however, is the STC Summit. But that’s only due to time and budget. The Content Strategy conference actually looks really appealing.


Photo courtesy of STC on Flickr

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, JavaScript, front-end design, content strategy, Jekyll, and more. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  • http://www.sdicorp.com/Resources/Blog/articleType/AuthorView/authorID/24/lkunz.aspx Larry Kunz

    You’re right, Tom: there are a lot of good conferences. I wish I were independently wealthy so that I could attend them all.

    I hear sometimes that conferences are outmoded, that people can get the same benefits by attending web-based events and never leaving their easy chairs. Yet the energy I find at conferences, whether I’m attending in person or just following the Twitter stream, is unique and irreplaceable. There’s also no substitute for meeting people face-to-face.

    I look forward to seeing you in Sacramento!

    • http://idratherbewriting.com Tom Johnson

      Thanks Larry. I was going to comment on the outmoded format of conferences, but I realized I haven’t attended enough of them to say anything credible. My impression is that most conferences overplay the lecture format. It’s fine for the first day, but quickly after it becomes tiring.

      I hate going to a conference session only to realize, 15 min. into it, that the session is irrelevant or too basic or just plain uninteresting. The STC tries to address this through their early proceedings offerings, but regardless, after 2 days at a conference, I get bored. That’s partly why I like screencasting during the conferences.

      You’re right about the general conference environment being a catalyst for new thought, though.

  • http://kaiweber.wordpress.com/ Kai

    Great list, Tom, thanks! For some more conferences, esp. in Europe, see http://kaiweber.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/resolution-for-2011-attend-a-conference/

    • http://idratherbewriting.com Tom Johnson

      Thanks for sharing your list, Kai. Your post has great resources.

  • http://www.justwriteclick.com Anne Gentle

    Great list, Tom! I’d also add the newest conference on the block, Open Help (http://www.openhelpconference.com). It’ll be small, short, and a lot of fun, the first weekend in June (3-5) in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    If you’re interested in community documentation, open source documentation, transparency and openness for technical support and documentation, this one is for you. We want it to be helpful to practitioners who are working “in the open” to share experiences.

    Tom, you’ll probably like the schedule format – first day talks/lectures, second day unconference/open discussion, plus opportunity for working meetings too such as doc sprints in the afternoon of the second day (and into the week if people want to make it happen). I’m really looking forward to this one.

    • http://idratherbewriting.com Tom Johnson

      Thanks for adding it to my list. I was completely unaware of it. Right now it looks like they’re still putting together the program. If I lived in Ohio, I’d totally go to this.

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  • Carol Anne

    I wish the conferences weren’t so expensive. Even the conferences in my backyard (the Twin Cities) are more than I can handle on my own. I don’t have a training budget, and I haven’t found that winning lottery ticket yet.

    I’ve really enjoyed the virtual conferences I’ve taken part in. I’ve gotten just as much from the speaker content than if I was right there in front of the speaker. Plus the price is affordable. The only thing missing is the schmoozing, but side channel/back channel chatting is rapidly compensating for that.

    That said, I have started a savings account for the STC conference in Chicago next year. I’m crossing my fingers nothing major happens to the house or family this year, so I don’t have to cannibalize it. ;^)

  • http://www.robertdesprez.com Robert Desprez

    Hi Tom,

    I just got back from the WritersUA conference in Long Beach, California. I thought it was really well done.

    I remember attending a WritersUA conference years ago before the “dot bomb” and there were about 1,000 attendees. This latest event had just 400 people attending. The reduced number of participants is probably due to limited budgets and the fact that maybe there are now more specialized conferences available.


    • http://idratherbewriting.com Tom Johnson

      My colleague attended this year as well. He said there were considerably more people than last year, and that the conference has been running for 18 years or so. I’m amazed that the conference model works so well, actually. I agree with your point about the competition from other conferences potentially reducing the number of attendees.

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