Must-see sessions at TCUK

Technical Communication UK 2010 (#TCUK10 and @TCUK_conf for twitter folks) is, unsurprisingly, a large conference about tech comms. It’s hosted by the ISTC, and last year is was diverse, informative, and generally moderately awesome.

This year is shaping up to be no different.

If you’re at all interested in tech comms, info design, content strategy, and associated malarkey, I’d suggest taking a look. If nothing else, I’ll be speaking, so you can heckle, mock, and generally abuse me in person.

Here’s a quick run-down of the sessions I’ll definitely be going to, and why I think they sound awesome:

Day 1:

  • Using web analytics to improve technical documentation
    Rachel Potts’ workshop on how to handle web analytics data properly. I don’t think I’d be half as effective a technical communicator, or a quarter the content strategist without not only web analytics, but knowing their limitations.
    I won’t be about for the workshops, sadly, but this should be well worth a look.

Day 2:

  • The spork/platypus average: content strategy at Red Gate Software
    I can’t really get out of being in the room for this one. Which is a pity in a way, since it’s on opposite Zoe Rose’s presentation on SCORM and designing content for e-learning. Zoe is voluble and engaging on all sorts of stuff in the e-learning, search,publishing, content, and metadata space.
  • Terminology – who cares?
    I do, and so do most organizations that care about talking to their users/customers and having the faintest hope of being understood. This stuff is hard, and I’m hoping Jill’s session will shed some light on how not to screw it up.
  • Everything you always wanted to know about psychology (and how it relates to technical communication) … but were afraid to ask
    Last year, Chris gave an entertaining, accessibly-academic presentation on the cognitive psychological background for information design and tech comms. More of this, please.
  • Documentation as an emotional experience for the user
    Ellis Pratt on customer experience, engagement with technology, and how users have changed. I’ve never been to one of Ellis’ presentations and not left with buckets of stuff to think about.
  • Wabi-sabi: co-creation and technical communications
    You had me at the title. You definitely had me at “.stealing from Knowledge Management, Humantics, dungeon mastery, artificial language learning and Japanese cartographers”. Again, this is an irksome clash, as it’s up against Gordon McLean on social media.

Day 3:

  • Information and Interpretation
    I’ve also heard this billed as “embedded user assistance for forests”. Neat. Also, information curation is a big deal.
  • Content strategy for everyone
    David Farbey on content strategy. Probably more theoretical and less riddled with precocious grandstanding than my offering on the subject.
  • Questions and rants
    Again, you had me at the title. So many conferences have an emergent theme, something in their subject matter’s culture that is teased out over the course of the event. There’s rarely time to talk about it outside hurried breakout sessions. Last year at TCUK, it was the social media “conversation”. At the content strategy forum, it was the idea that maybe the we suck at being web-like. I’m hoping this will be a big, robust engagement with what’s going in on in tech comms, and what’s emerged from TCUK.

So, yeah – some fascinating, eclectic stuff there.