EuroIA – Design for Good

I can’t begin to express how much this year’s EuroIA conference affected me – in so many positive ways.

This was a conference of Information Architects, which I attended for the first time 2 years ago, in Prague. This year’s edition was in Edinburgh, and I was pleased and honoured to be included among the speakers.

What struck me most about the programme, was that without having any announced theme, almost all the presentations, from Lisa Welchman’s opening keynote to the closer by Andrea Resmini, touched at some point on the need for those of us who design and develop content and the systems that deliver content to people to think humanistically, to be ethical, to think about doing – or “designing for” – good. Continue reading “EuroIA – Design for Good”

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Summerfall Conference Season

In June and September your Humanist Nerd spoke at four different conferences. In this post, I’ll tell you about UA Europe, Congility, and TCUK. I’ll save a separate post for EuroIA.

UA Europe – In a Class By Itself

UA Europe has always struck me as different from other tech comm conferences in Europe. I’m not totally sure why, but the audience seems a bit different – perhaps with more of a traditional tech WRITING orientation. This is not to say that they aren’t interested in new aspects of tech comm practice, just that they may be more preoccupied with the specific writing aspects.
Continue reading “Summerfall Conference Season”

Never Had So Much Fun Doing Tech Comm!

It’s been a great few weeks of incredible webinars, conferences and networking, and I’m really glad to have been at the centre of some of this action, sorry I missed some other great events.

I’m especially pleased that many folks have been glad to hear what i’ve had to present, and are saying it in public. So many thanks, merci, gracies, gracias, obrigado, danke schön, etc.

The Infodesign site picked up my review of the EuroIA Summit.

I had lots of fun doing a webcast for Sarah O’Keefe and Scriptorium Publishing Services, and you’ll find a nice overview of it in Kai Weber’s blog .

Kai also did a nice write up of the content strategy day at this year’s TCWorld conference led by Scott Abel.

Die Redakteuse had some interesting takeaways from the day, even if she didn’t feel totally comfortable with the subject.

My presentation there was based on the earlier webinar, and it’s also on line.

Last, and certainly not least, is the fun of getting into the spotlight.

Recently two interviews have appeared that I can’t help crowing about a little:

Gwendolynne Barr wrote an article about technical communication in France and the STC France chapter, based in part on one of these. You can can read it in STC Berkely’s newsletter, Ragged Left

There’s also a fun interview of me in the Firehead blog, for which I thank Firehead and the folks who worked to make it so.

WHEW! What’s next? A presentation on transformation, multiple identities, and virtuality for the Consciousness Reframed conference in Lisbon, later this month.

See you there?

The EuroIA Summit – a Wow Experience

I did plan to write this a bit earlier, but while I was in Prague at this year’s EuroIA summit, I got a bout of bronchitis that’s been slowing me down. That said, I can still easily say “Wow.” It was a great conference.

What made it great, first and foremost, was the spirit. Just about everyone there was infused with a certain joie de vivre that was infectious. People were there to share and celebrate their profession. The “celebrate” part was really important. There was a sense that information architecture, as a profession, had gone through some hard times, and that it was now possible to hold one’s head up high and jubilantly proclaim to the heavens, “Ich bin ein IA!” – OK, wrong language for Prague, but I don’t know any Czech 😉

Another reason for the success of this conference is that it is deliberately kept small – sold out at 200. This is done to guaranty that most people get to speak to most people, and that you get to meet new folks, not just hang out with old friends. The small group fosters camaraderie as well. There were only two concurrent sessions at a time, so, although choices were sometimes difficult, they weren’t as daunting as for some larger conferences.

Then there was the quality of the presentations themselves. While I can’t say that they were uniformly outstanding, every presentation I attended was able to grab and hold my attention, even the one that I found disappointing. No one was so boring that I wanted to leave. That might seem to be a backhanded compliment, but anyone who has had to organize a conference knows that it is very difficult to achieve such a thing in a three-day event.

I specially appreciated that this conference was really for people in Europe. There were some attendees from North America, but the focus of the conference was on European practice and European issues, and that was a refreshing change from many so-called “international” conferences where people from all over the world can congregate and talk about the state of their professions in the United States.

One innovation of this conference that I really loved – and will probably steal next time I have to organize a conference myself – was what they called “The IA Shuffle.” Conference chair Eric Reiss explained that in the past, organizers had been disappointed by the poor quality of panels and debates that had been proposed and prepared in advance. They decided, a few years back, that an improvised panel couldn’t possibly be any worse, and thus was born the IA Shuffle.

Here’s how it works. At the beginning of the day, a tall hat is placed in front of one of the meeting rooms, and attendees are invited to drop their proposals for a panel discussion topic into the hat. At the end of the day, in plenary session, a single topic is drawn from the hat, and that is the topic of the discussion. Volunteer panelists are then solicited, and the process is repeated as they put their names into the hat. Five or six names are drawn, and Bob’s your uncle! A panel is born.

I personally agree with Eric Reiss’ assessment that the panel we witnessed was every bit as good, and perhaps better for its spontaneity, as any prepared panel could be.

I came back from Prague knowing that next year I’ll be submitting a paper proposal, and going to Rome for EuroIA 2012 whether my paper is accepted or not.