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In a Dallas state of mind

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Tony Chung

Published: April 2010 in Editor's Notes, Viewpoints

This year, you can’t turn around without bumping into another session about wikis

I can’t believe the STC Technical Communications Summit (TCS) 2010 starts this weekend. It feels like only yesterday that Eagranie notified me that the chapter chose my entry to win the Summit 2010 Grant contest. I should be packing, but instead I procrastinate by writing the thank you post I should have written last month.

When I renewed my STC membership late last year, I contemplated purchasing an early bird Summit ticket because it was reasonably priced. I didn’t, however, because I wasn’t sure if I could afford another trip while I was still paying off our family vacation from last summer.

As the conference committee released preliminary details of the conference topics, I knew this was my year to go. I had never been before, but I was won over by the topic list, and especially the keynote speaker.

Dictionary dynamo Erin McKean

You don’t know how much I regretted my decision to not get a ticket when the STC announced that Erin McKean would be the keynote speaker this year. Even though I know of her only through her now infamous TED presentation—where she complained her role as a dictionary editor was viewed as a traffic cop who keeps the bad words out, rather than a fisherman who reels the bad words in—I was excited that the STC would choose such a dynamic opener for TCS #57.

It was her fascination with words that prompted her to launch the Wordnik online dictionary. Its styling and interface resemble a search engine. After all, an online dictionary is just a search engine for words.

Wide array of conference topics

Participants of the 2006 summit noted a marked change in the role of technical writer from content generator to information management specialist. As technology becomes more complex, we spend more time devising solutions to facilitate user-generated content rather than write it from scratch. I recall a mailing list discussion where one one member responded that she was significantly impacted by “the increasing interest in the practical use of wikis and blogs.”

This year, you can’t turn around without bumping into another session about wikis:

  • Changing the Workflow: Implementing a Documentation Wiki
  • Creating a Wiki-Based Online Help System
  • Flower Power: Daisy Wiki-based Content and Translation Management
  • Using Wikis to Enhance Training Development and Delivery
  • Designing for Collaboration: Managing Projects with a Wiki

Of course, the general smattering of DITA, Globalization/Localization, Business, and tools topics are also up for grabs. While I’m there I hope to absorb everything.

Social media a big player

Look ahead to the flurry of social media overload as with every conference. The STC Summit 2010 Twitter stream has picked up the pace over the last two days. A STC TCS 2010 ScribbleLive feed Several well-known bloggers will be live blogging the sessions.

My first summit

As I mentioned earlier, this is my first time attending the summit. I’m already feeling overwhelmed and I haven’t even hit the plane yet. Fortunately the STC Carolina chapter posted a guide to help first timers like me prepare for the summit.

Some Tweeters announced informal gatherings, so I created a data matrix for my tweetup badge using Nokia’s mobile code generator. Then I used Google maps to plot the locations of all the Starbucks nearest to the Dallas Hyatt Regency at Reunion Towers.

It makes me wonder why hotels haven’t thought to provide map mashups like this as a way to help tourists?

Oh, look at the time. I suppose I should get around to packing. I’ll write to you from Dallas!

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Tony Chung is a freelance technical and creative communications consultant with a specialty in developing effective web applications. Catch up with him at

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