I just returned from the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Summit in Dallas, TX. The conference this year had a much more optimistic feel than the last couple of years. This year, I actually met more people looking to hire than looking to be hired, which was not the case at the last two conferences. Of course, given that those looking for jobs often don’t have the means to travel to a conference, I wouldn’t argue this is conclusive evidence of an upturn, but it was encouraging.
As has been the case with nearly every conference I’ve ever attended, the greatest value came from interactions outside the sessions (of course, the sessions are essential, they provide a framework both in terms of the schedule and the topics of discussion, but they are just the starting point). What struck me most from both the sessions and the informal discussion is that the technical communication community is fully embracing the technologies and methodologies that have been bubbling around for the last few years. In particular, XML (esp. DITA) and social media are mainstream. The questions and discussions centered around how best to use these tools, not whether to use them.
I had the opportunity to visit with nearly all of the XML Press authors (Robert Delwood, Anne Gentle, Brenda Huettner, Alan Porter, and Zarella Rendon), plus meet a few prospective authors.
I also had the opportunity to do the following video podcast with Tom Johnson about XML Press and our current offerings. For more information about these books and other offerings, go to xmlpress.net. One note, the video was done on the spur of the moment with no chance for me to prepare, and I forgot to mention our newest author, Robert Delwood, whose book, tentatively titled “The Secret Life of Word” looks at how technical communicators can get the most from Microsoft Word (Sorry, Robert).