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The Upcoming TC Camp Unconference and my morning API workshop

by Tom Johnson on Nov 28, 2014
categories: technical-writing

campOn Saturday, January 24, 2015, there will be a TC Camp unconference held at Mission College in Santa Clara, California. The unconference is a one-day event that draws about 150–200 technical writers in the area to participate in an informal, attendee-led day of events.

During the morning of the unconference, there are several workshops available (for a small fee). This year Marta Rauch will teach a workshop on mobile, Maxwell Hoffman will give a workshop on Adobe, Steve Anderson will give a workshop on Doc Portals, and I will give a workshop on API documentation.

By the way, if you're interested in attending my API workshop, be sure to also check out the full-day API technical writing workshop led by Sarah Maddox the previous day at Google. I wrote about this previously here. (12/2/15 update: Sarah's workshop is now full with 40 people on the waitlist, so if you're just now finding out about it, you're probably too late.)

Actually, if you've been trying to get more information about APIs, and you don't live in Silicon Valley, you might consider making a trip out here. Last year when we held our API workshop with Jim Bisso, a few people from neighboring states asked if they should fly in for the workshop. At the time, I was hesitant to say yes because I had no idea how the workshop would go, and it seemed a little overkill to fly in for a single day workshop.

But now that Sarah's workshop will be held Friday, followed by my workshop and the unconference the next day, it might not be too crazy of an idea to travel here for these two events.

After the workshops at the unconference, here's what the rest of the day looks like (at least this is about how it went last year). After an unconference keynote or panel discussion, the attendees are given a set of stickers. A number of session ideas (which were previously submitted by attendees) are taped to a wall on separate pieces of paper. The attendees peruse the wall and put stickers on session topics they're interested in learning more about.

An unconference coordinator tallies up the topics that have the most interest, and then sketches out an agenda for the most popular sessions, with times and locations for each session.

Each session consists of a group of other like-minded attendees sitting in a circle. You hope someone with knowledge about the topic chooses to attend the session in order to facilitate the discussion. When that happens, there's a healthy exchange of ad-hoc questions and answers. If there isn't a topic expert in the group, the attendees will often trade questions and share experiences. It's usually beneficial to some extent, but there is a chance of the blind leading the blind.

This year I believe there's a game-show element to the conference, though I'm not sure how that all works.

If you want to attend the unconference, you can register at

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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