Hello SIG members! It’s been a week since I returned home from the Technical Communication Summit, and I have recovered from the time away from the office and I wanted to share a few tidbits from the conference.
We attended leadership day on Sunday, and gathered invaluable information that will help us plan our next set of activities. I learned a great definition of leadership from incoming president, Linda Oestreich: “Leadership is the ability to cause others to act in desired ways for the benefit of the organization.” Ultimately, each community leader was encouraged to determine what we wanted to do from year to year, and then just go do it; that is, don’t do everything and don’t do what you think you “should” do, but just do what your members want you to do and do what your volunteers sign up to do. So, Technical Editing SIG members, what do you want us to do? 🙂
We had a very interesting keynote speaker, Simon Singh, who spoke about the making of his documentary about a mathematician solving the proof for an age-old mathematical equation. Although the specifics and details about that mathematical equation did not stick, I did take away two things from listening to his experiences — first, when choosing to edit something, you must consider the audience and context and make sure that it is right, and second, the technical accuracy of your content is critical as you run the risk of losing your audience’s trust.
A very popular session this year (as in past years) was “The Myths and Trends in the Changing English Language.” They talked through several common issues, such as ending a sentence with a preposition, use of the serial comma, and passive voice. As a fellow “word nerd,” this session was a light-hearted treat, where I got to learn what “snarky” meant. My one golden nugget from this session was to be reminded that “goodwill is more important than being right.” As editors, we sometimes need the goodwill more than the rightness of a rule or guideline.
The Technical Editing SIG had its own session of progression table topics — all about editing! Many thanks to our moderator, Diane Feldman, who helped coordinate these topics with the help of you, our SIG members! Each table was full each time, and everyone seemed to really engage in the conversations. Perhaps each presenter might consider summarizing their session in an article for our blog and newsletter!
The closing keynote speaker (yes, we got two keynotes this year) was Ze Frank, who told two great stories about the designs of airline safety cards and about “accelerated anxiety” and the changing landscape of how everyone wants to join the media conversation — the explosion of blogs, MySpace, YouTube, etc. He is a designer at heart, but an excellent communicator through his designs. I laughed out loud frequently and left the conference with a smile on my face.
Although I attended other technical sessions, which I might try to summarize in other posts or articles, I wanted to highlight these above from my experience at the conference. Did you attend the conference? What was your favorite session? Please consider sharing your experiences with our other SIG members!