TCUK17 Speaker Robert Kratky – “Going Modular: Turning Legacy Docs into User-Story-Based Content”

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Robert Kratky will be presenting at TCUK17 on “Going Modular: Turning Legacy Docs into User-Story-Based Content”.

Photo of Robert Kratky

How to adapt the big guides of yesterday into modularized narratives that are easy to maintain, scale well, and still allow for a ‘guide-like’ experience when it is required? This presentation will describe the work documentation writers at Red Hat are doing to solve this problem: re-purposing the existing body of documentation into modular units that can be combined into user-story-based content. The talk will also outline how to leverage the modular structure of content to present it to users in a dynamic manner — using a metadata-based, hierarchical navigation.

About Robert Kratky

Robert Kratky is a Principal Technical Writer at Red Hat and a long-time contributor to open-source projects. He has published dozens of technical and outreach articles in both print and online media, and presented about documentation topics at open-source events. At Red Hat, Robert specializes on developer docs and improvement of user experience with documentation.

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – 3di

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3di Information Solutions Ltd.

Logo for 3di

“Complexity made clear”

3di has delivered technical communication and localization services to global companies, government organisations, and technology and software businesses since 2002. Our in-house team is based near Guildford and in Kraków. Quite a few of us are attending TCUK as delegates.

Our customers and suppliers love working with us and keep coming back. The people we work with day-to-day like our friendly and reliable approach and our focus on quality — we don’t let them down. The people who pay the bills like our competitive rates and our focus on efficient processes — we save them money.

Visit our stand at TCUK to:

  • discuss your work and the challenges you face
  • brief us about projects you have coming up
  • tell us about your availability to work with us and our customers

For more information visit our website www.3di-info.com.

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – SCHEMA

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SCHEMA logo

The SCHEMA Group develops and markets high-performance solutions for information logistics. Founded in 1995, the company employs over 110 people at its headquarters and development site in Nuremberg, Germany. Relied upon by over 500 customers, the SCHEMA ST4 Component Content Management System (CCMS) and the SCHEMA CDS Content Delivery Server number among the most widely used systems for a modular approach to technical writing and documentation. The SCHEMA ST4 Component Content Management System and the SCHEMA CDS Content Delivery Server cater to all functions relating to the creation, versioning, variant control, translation, quality assurance, publication and distribution of product information – from service information on a mobile device to the final layout for a print catalogue. SCHEMA ST4 is a flexible system that can be scaled to suit the needs of small authoring teams up to entire companies. It is also available as a standard version or as a client-specific solution. SCHEMA CDS distributes information while providing its immediate availability. The SCHEMA Group’s solutions are suitable for a broad range of applications. They are deployed in a wide variety of sectors including mechanical and plant engineering, automotive, IT, electronics, medical technology and the pharmaceutical industry. Clients such as ABB, Agilent, Andritz, Bayer, Bentley, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bombardier, Bosch, Bundesanzeiger Federal Gazette, Carl Zeiss, Caterpillar, Daimler, Datev, Doppelmayr, General Electric, KSB, MAN, Miele, Austrian Federal Railways, Philips, Porsche, Roche, Schaeffler Group, SEW Eurodrive, Siemens, SMA, Toyota, TüV, Voith, Weleda, Wincor Nixdorf and many more rely on systems from SCHEMA.

SCHEMA. Complex documents made easy. www.schema.de

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – Kothes! Technische Kommunikation GmbH & Co. KG

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Logo for Kothes!

Kothes! Technische Kommunikation GmbH & Co. KG is a leading specialist service provider for technical documentation and CE marking.

Kothes! was founded in 2003 and now employs a good 100 people, about 70 of them technical editors. Offices in Kempen, Bremen, Berlin and Stuttgart as well as in Kloten near Zürich (Kothes! Schweiz GmbH) guarantee fast reaction times for our customers in the entire German-speaking area. Our customers include more than 1,000 manufacturers, operators and importers of technical products, from family companies to global corporations.

We stand for cooperation models where consultation and services are combined in such a way that your employees and our employees collaborate at the optimum level.

www.kothes.de

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – Imprimatur

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Imprimatur is a leader in implementing technology to improve the document creation and management process, offering guidance, training and consultancy to enable our customers to become more efficient.

As part of its strategy to work with the best documentation technologies, Imprimatur is SCHEMA’s sole UK partner, offering sales, support and consultancy to enable customers to implement the SCHEMA ST4 CCMS.

Imprimatur is a specialist language and technology company, providing services to both technical and marketing teams of large companies operating in global markets.

Imprimatur offers languages services – from machine translation right through to copy writing – to enable its customers to be clearly understood in their target markets. By using the latest and most powerful translation management systems, Imprimatur produces high quality translations whilst delivering to the tightest of deadlines.

www.imprimatur.co.uk

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – MadCap Software

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MadCap software logo

MadCap Software is a trusted resource for thousands of companies around the globe for single-source, multi-channel authoring and publishing solutions, including multimedia and translation management. Our products are used to create corporate intranets, online Help systems, policy & procedure manuals, video tutorials, knowledge bases, ebooks, user guides and more. Our services include product training, consulting services, translation and localization and an advanced developer certification program.

www.madcapsoftware.com

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TCUK 2017 Keynote Speaker – Michael Meng

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We are pleased to announce Michael Meng as a keynote speaker for TCUK 2017.

Michael Meng

Michael Meng is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration and Information Sciences at the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany).

Michael studied German linguistics and psycholinguistics at the University of Jena (Germany) and the University of Edinburgh. After completing his PhD on syntactic processing during reading in 1998, he worked as a technical writer and later on as department manager of documentation and localization for an international software company. In 2012, Michael was appointed Professor of Applied Linguistics at Merseburg University of Applied Science, where he now teaches courses on text analysis, text production, research methods and cognitive psychology in the B. Eng. and M. A. programs in Technical Communication. He is member of tekom Germany and presents regularly at conferences such as the European Academic Colloquium on Technical Communication, Write the Docs, or the annual tcworld/tekom conference.

We’ll have more news from Michael Meng in a later post.

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TCUK 2017 Keynote Speaker – Mike Hamilton

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We are pleased to announce Mike Hamilton as a keynote speaker for TCUK 2017.

Mike Hamilton

Topic-based Authoring – Is it for me?

Sometimes it can feel like everyone in the industry has made the transition to modular content creation, except you. Is this really true? Of course not. How can you decide if it is time to transition from a linear authoring process to a modular or topic-based process? What questions do you need to ask?

If you decide that you could benefit from a topic-based process then where do you begin? Do you start over? Can your existing content be reused? Beyond the content itself, will you need to approach the task of writing differently? Do you have any special content needs that would need to be addressed such as translation/localization requirements or heavy multimedia usage?

What about ongoing maintenance? How will a topic-based process change how you handle edits and content updates? What additional complexity will be introduced into the documentation process and how will it be managed?

These are all questions that Mr. Hamilton will address in this presentation. Transitioning to a modular content workflow can be very powerful or very frustrating. Asking the hard questions up front, and having good answers to those questions can help to ensure a successful transition.

About Mike Hamilton

Mike Hamilton is the Vice President of Product Evangelism at MadCap Software. Prior to joining MadCap Software, he served as the Product Manager for Macromedia’s award-winning RoboHelp product line, where he gathered input and feedback from the customer community and guided ongoing development of the various RoboHelp products.

Mr. Hamilton has over twenty years of experience in training, technical communication, multimedia development, and software development at several organizations including MadCap Software, Macromedia, eHelp, Blue Sky Software, Cymer, a leading supplier of laser illumination sources to the semiconductor industry, National Steel & Shipbuilding and the US Navy.
Mr. Hamilton is often a featured speaker at industry events, including the STC (the Society for Technical Communication) Annual Conference, the annual TEKOM/TC World Conference in Germany, the annual SOAP Conference in Poland, the European Online Documentation Conferences, and many more events. Mr. Hamilton has also appeared at the Microsoft Campus and STC regional conferences and events.

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TCUK 2017 Keynote Speaker – Frances Gordon

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We are pleased to announce Frances Gordon as a keynote speaker for TCUK 2017.

Frances Gordon

Frances’ career started in rural South Africa where she wrote and designed educational materials for low literacy adults.

During her 20-year career, she has held tenures at Datatec/Logical as communications strategist, at London-based Siegel & Gale as Head of Content (EMEA), and at Barclaycard as VP of Content Strategy (UK).

Together with lawyer, Candice Burt, Frances co-founded Simplified, a plain-language and content training and consultancy firm. Its services include communication and content strategy, writing coaching, content audits, Treating Customers Fairly consultancy, and plain-language rewrites. Over 5 000 professionals, from lawyers to technical communicators, have benefited from the Simplified training programme.

Frances has worked on content for blue-chip international companies such as Alexander Forbes, MTN, Liberty Group, NS&I, Old Mutual and Vitality. She also has an active interest in financial inclusion programmes in frontier and emerging markets.
Frances sat on the board of international plain language organisation, PLAIN (Plain Language Association InterNational). She was part of the advisory committee of IC Clear, an EU-funded initiative that developed a post-graduate course in clear communication. She is an active member of Clarity in the UK, which is an organisation devoted to writing legal information clearly.

We’ll have more news from Frances Gordon in a later post.

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TCUK 2017 – Call for proposals

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The TCUK Committee proudly announces the theme for the 2017 conference: Staying on Topic.

Topic-based authoring uses a modular pattern for content creation. It structures information into topics that can be combined and reused in different contexts, and is distinct from book-oriented or narrative content that follows a linear structure from beginning to end.

Topic-based writing methodologies are gaining recognition and acceptance across all business domains. They require content creators to produce information in distinct stand-alone chunks or topics, which can combine to create deliverables that are well-written, well-structured, and of high quality for efficient and effective distribution through any chosen delivery channel. In return, end users find the content more convenient to access and navigate, and the information they seek easier to find and more reliable.

There is a particular skill to the creation of topic-based and modular content. It involves careful analysis and categorization of the source material and the creation of discrete stand-alone topics that are complete and properly formed in their own right. The modular nature of these topics means Content Developers can reuse them many times. Subsequently, subject matter experts need to review them only once as a stand-alone entity, after which they need only to review their validity as a component of a larger collection.

We look forward to meeting experienced practitioners of topic-based writing, those who have yet to develop the necessary skills, and delegates who have a more general interest in technical communication. As usual, the conference also invites proposals for off-theme presentations on subjects that are of broader interest to scientific and technical communicators.

The conference offers valuable opportunities for delegates, speakers and tools vendors to network and exchange ideas and experiences, and to benefit from working in an environment that is rich in technical communication expertise.

We also welcome those who might still be at University and still undecided about their future career path, or who may be unaware of the opportunities that our profession presents. Again, we also invite those who are closely involved in the recruitment process so they may benefit from having a potential pool of talent from which to draw candidates for their growing businesses.

For more details and to submit your proposal please visit our call for proposals page.

The call for proposals ends on Wednesday, 26th April 2017.

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TCUK16 Speaker Rahel Anne Bailie – “Strategist, Consultant, Trusted Advisor: Which Are You and Why Does It Matter?”

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Rahel Anne Bailie will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Strategist, Consultant, Trusted Advisor: Which Are You and Why Does It Matter?”.

Rahel Anne Bailie

It’s been twenty years since the Cluetrain Manifesto changed the dynamic from pushing messages to our audiences into creating conversations. Now we’re more concerned about the type of conversations we have. Do we get the right kind of engagement with our audience? Do we provide a commoditised service, or do we operate as trusted advisors?

Rahel Bailie looks at the various names that we go by, and creates a map that shows the arteries and intersections of professional competencies, talents, skills, and other factors that round out our diverse set of professions.

About Rahel Anne Bailie

Rahel Anne Bailie, Chief Knowledge Office for Scroll, runs the content strategy practice and consults for clients with serious content challenges. She blends techniques from multiple disciplines to develop content strategies that have business impact. Rahel also teaches in the Content Strategy Master’s Program at FH-Joanneum, runs the Content, Seriously meetup, and is working on her third industry book: writing content for a structured authoring environment.

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TCUK16 Speaker Chris Hester – “Be The Captain of Your Career”

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Chris Hester will be giving a workshop at TCUK16: “Be The Captain of Your Career”.

Chris Hester
Chris Hester

Workshop: Be The Captain of Your Career

Have you ever applied for a job you really wanted, but didn’t get? Or perhaps you landed the job, but feel under compensated?

Chances are you made one (or several) mistakes that are hindering your job and career growth.

In this hands-on workshop you will learn:

  • The most common mistakes professionals make when looking for work—and how to avoid them
  • How to ace a tech comm interview using a portfolio
  • How to hone your workplace negotiation skills

Want a different job, more money, a better standard of living?

Don’t miss this workshop!

About Chris Hester

As an independent consultant and the founder of Red Desk Studio, Chris has delivered successful content strategy, training, and knowledge management projects to a variety of clients, including those in the advertising, construction management, entertainment, and healthcare industries.

Chris is an STC Fellow and has been actively involved in the technical communication community as a volunteer, academic mentor, and presenter at events such as the STC Summit, LavaCon, and BigDesign.

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Change of Keynote Speaker at TCUK 2016

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We are very sorry to announce that Jack Molisani is now unable to attend TCUK 2016.

His place as a keynote speaker will be filled by Ray Gallon. Ray is co-founder of The Transformation Society, a research and consulting company, and owner of Culturecom, a company that provides business process improvement through communication. Ray Gallon’s keynote presentation is on “Let Us Say ‘Yes’ to Our Presence Together in Chaos”, where he will help us glimpse ahead to how our industry is changing, even now, and how we need to adapt ourselves and our skills – for survival, for sanity, and for success in a world without documents.

Jack’s workshop will be run by Chris Hester.

Please see the programme page for other late-breaking changes to the conference programme.

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TCUK16 Speaker Ray Gallon – “Let Us Say ‘Yes’ to Our Presence Together in Chaos”

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Ray Gallon will be giving a keynote talk at TCUK16: “Let Us Say ‘Yes’ to Our Presence Together in Chaos”.

Ray Gallon
Ray Gallon

Technological change advances at a dizzying rate, we are all inundated with a host of names and acronyms that we can barely manage. We’re urged to “be creative” at the same time that we must follow orders. Information changes in the time it takes to verify it. Welcome to chaos!

You can fight against the tide, trying to make order, or you can accept that we will never know it all, will never master it all, but we can deal with it all.

One of the major currents in the maelstrom is called Industry 4.0, and its combination of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things promises to totally change the way we live. Technical communicators will not be exempt. We’ll still need technical information, but we aren’t going to be producing it “the way we’ve always done it.”

We’re going to glimpse ahead to how our industry is changing, even now, and how we need to adapt ourselves and our skills – for survival, for sanity, and for success in a world without documents.

About Ray Gallon

Ray Gallon is co-founder of The Transformation Society, a research and consulting company, and owner of Culturecom, a company that provides business process improvement through communication. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station.

Ray has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises.

He has been quoted as saying, “Since the beginning, I have been, paradoxically, communicating and shooting myself in the foot. I find that this combination leads to fascinating outcomes that have made me one of the most fortunate people I know.”

Ray is a university lecturer and a speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

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What are your top three technical writing tools?

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Earlier this year, Ferry Vermeulen asked speakers at conferences earlier this year what they consider their top three tools of choice for their technical communication needs. He received over 70 responses which he published in “Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Expert Choice” on his blog.

Many of the responses are perfect for this year’s conference theme: From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator. Dive into the article for inspiration!

  • Find out who feels that a certain tool is like a map of her brain (or at least, if she were Data from Star Trek).
  • Learn how many are using Github and why.
  • Discover who considers “talent” a tool!

If Ferry had contacted you, what would you say to him? You can add your thoughts in the comments at “Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Expert Choice”.

You can also continue the discussion at the TCUK conference or on Twitter (and include @TCUK_Conf or the hashtag #TCUK16).

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Changes to the booking procedure for TCUK16

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We still have spaces available for the TCUK 2016 conference! However, due to accommodation filling up at the conference hotel and the need to confirm alternative accommodation on a case-by-case basis, you need to email or call in your booking:

  • Email: tcuk@istc.org.uk
  • Call the ISTC office: +44 (0) 20 8253 4506

You can still use the booking form to plan and calculated your booking needs. After August 16th, the payment processing section was removed.

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SCHEMA – Platinum Sponsor Interview, Jörg Plöger

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Jörg Plöger – SCHEMA Consulting GmbH, Sales Manager (Northern Europe)

Jörg Plöger

TCUK: Thank you for returning to sponsor us at TCUK16. Tell us about what motivated you to join us again?

JP: The industrial sector (secondary sector) generates 57% of the United Kingdom’s exports (approx. 11.5% of which go to Germany). The IT and software sector also plays a vital role in that regard. With globalisation and the rise of the Internet of Things, technical communication is playing an increasingly important role in industry. Buzz words such as Mobile Documentation, Big Data, Omni Channel, Content Marketing and Knowledge Management are increasingly influencing the everyday work of the Technical Communicator.

We are proud to be a sponsor of the TCUK event again this year, as this environment offers potential for the use of standardised and cost-effective solutions for content management.

In our opinion, TCUK attendees represent a cross-section of people with a variety of knowledge and experience – from novices to experts. They are open-minded, practical, goal-oriented and are seeking the best and most effective way to achieve those goals.

TCUK provides an efficient platform for exchanging information and obtaining information on trends, technologies and standards. The direct interaction with experts and colleagues from all sectors and different countries also offers added value.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is ‘From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator’. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

JP: I began as a novice in 1986, when I took over the management of a service company for technical communication with 20 employees. There were no PCs and we only had a limited amount of information and knowledge in the field of “technical documentation”. Many things could only be self-taught. Texts were typed using typewriters and mounted on a light table.

In the late 1980s, we purchased our first PC in the form of the 486 with a DOS operating system. It was on this PC that we gained our first experiences of Word, Ventura and a simple CAD program. We progressed to working with FrameMaker, Interleaf and Intergraph on a Unix workstation.

In the mid-1990s, we then used one of the first Translation Memory systems, Trados, for translation and we created SGML Data Modules for the S1000D standard. We also developed customer-specific semantic XML DTDs.

Since 2004, I have been working at SCHEMA, the German manufacturer of the Component Content Management System ST4 – a leading standard solution for creating, managing, publishing and distributing multilingual product information.

The backdrop to the various stages of my career was the search for simpler solutions for the complex and rapidly growing demands for product information. Reducing this complexity is still the challenge we face today. The responses from over 400 of our customers worldwide highlight the trends that mark our overall approach:

  • Content modularisation and enrichment with metadata
  • Content reuse (variables, metadata, terminology, sentences, images, fragments, topics, structures…)
  • Variant management with automatic configuration of deliverables
  • Multi-language support
  • Simple production for multi-media publishing
  • User-friendly and flexible out-of-the-box solutions

TCUK: As an experienced sponsor, what words of advice do you have to encourage technical communicators to attend this year’s conference?

JP: I believe that TCUK has once again succeeded in creating a programme with a colourful array of informative workshops and presentations. What’s more, leading service providers and systems providers will once again be attending in order to exhibit their products. That makes it a good opportunity to bring together information and knowledge regarding customers’ requirements and framework conditions and learn collectively. The potential applications and types of process support available are also equally diverse. In short: TCUK is offering precisely the right mix that will enable technical communicators to view, take in and immerse themselves in the very latest developments.

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

JP: The industrial sector in the United Kingdom offers a well-trained workforce, a high domestic demand and forms an integral part of the European domestic market. It is supported by a solid scientific base, as well as a highly developed capital market. These are the strengths that it calls upon in order to improve the prospects of the future generations in industrial centres such as Manchester, Coventry and Birmingham and to ensure that the UK economy can compete on an international level once more. It is now a case of identifying innovative, highly technical niches, which can draw from the rich pool of talent that is available in British centres of learning. Bedfordshire is conveniently situated between London and Birmingham, the East Midlands and the West Midlands. We are looking forward to meeting local Technical Communicators, seeing their challenges, answering their questions and exchanging information.

See you in Bedfordshire!

About SCHEMA

SCHEMA Group was founded in 1995 in Nürnberg and today has around 100 employees. SCHEMA ST4 is an XML-based editing and content management system, offering extensive features for all aspects of the creation, management, translation, quality management, publication and distribution of product information of any kind. SCHEMA ST4’s scalability makes it suitable for small editing teams as well as for company-wide solutions for information logistics. SCHEMA ST4 can be used as a standard product or a customer-specific solution. With the SCHEMA Content Delivery Server, information can be distributed intelligently to all common platforms, independently of SCHEMA ST4.

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TCUK16 Speaker Andrew Head – “Can’t see it? Augment it! Creating and delivering content for Augmented Reality”

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Andrew Head will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Can’t see it? Augment it! Creating and delivering content for Augmented Reality”.

Andrew Head

Industry demand for Augmented Reality (AR) solutions grows by the day, and technical communicators are facing a challenge to provide this new rich media. So, how does an author create content for AR? Is it a new content type, is it a new system, is it new software or is this a whole new science?

Andrew will explore the technology, processes and purpose of creating content for AR distribution. By sharing examples of how content is authored in a Content Management System, and how cloud content distribution platforms are the enabler for AR technical communication solutions.

About Andrew Head

Andrew Head from Semcon leads the development of new business and new solutions in the United Kingdom. Andrew’s co-operation with product manufacturers, systems developers and service providers affords him a unique insight into the needs, ambitions and challenges associated with the creation and distribution of content that resolves problems, drives greater product utilisation and delivers innovative, high quality user experiences.

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TCUK16 Speaker Darren Mitcham – “It all started with BS-4884”

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Darren Mitcham will be presenting at TCUK16 on “It all started with BS-4884: the courses, colleagues, and copy that have characterised my 20-year career as a technical communicator”.

Darren Mitcham

As a failing electronic engineer for Marconi in my first job after university, I jumped at the chance to write a manual for our first ever consumer (rather than military) product. I stumbled rather fortuitously on BS-4884 – the British standard for technical authors – and I knew at that point I had found my true vocation in life. Over the subsequent 20 years, I have benefitted from numerous courses and workshops, and read countless books and papers. I will share my experiences to highlight which ones I recommend for technical communicators and which ones to avoid.

About Darren Mitcham

I am a senior technical author at Intel. I used to work for a small American electronics company for 17 years, but our 2,000 employees were very recently subsumed into Intel’s 133,000.

I live and work in High Wycombe. I play Hammond organs, attend many classic car rallies, collect classic car brochures and manuals (mainly to see how the use of technical English has evolved).

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TCUK16 Speakers Sean Marlow and Sally Haywood – “From Technical Communicator to Instructional Designer”

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Sean Marlow and Sally Haywood, from our TCUK16 sponsor Capita TI, will be giving a vendor presentation at TCUK16 on “From Technical Communicator to Instructional Designer”.

Sean Marlow
Sally Haywood

Sally Haywood and Sean Marlow delve into the world of eLearning. See how the landscape could change for you. Communication is at the heart of Instructional Design, but what other qualities would you need to cross that bridge? Are the roles and responsibilities distinct or complementary? Will a new title raise your profile? Understand more about the hot topics in eLearning from social and mobile learning to gamification. Learn about authoring techniques for compliance and branding as well as giving your learners that all-round great user experience.

About Sean Marlow and Sally Haywood

Sean Marlow has over 25 years’ experience in the translation industry, specialising in software and user assistance localisation. Dedicated to the cause, he even married a freelance translator, though training his dogs to be bi-lingual was deemed a step too far.

Sally Haywood has over 20 years’ experience in the translation industry and specialises in the localization of software and eLearning. She lives in North Yorkshire with her husband, 3 daughters and very playful young dog.

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From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator

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Anjali Gupta works as a Technical Writing Consultant with Adobe Systems, the Diamond Sponsor for TCUK16. She is smitten by Adobe products (especially FrameMaker and RoboHelp) and plans to learn and teach some great, new workflows to users. She loves to explore new communication styles and media. Anjali has written an article for us where she shares her thoughts on the 2016 conference theme.

From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator

It is one of those Monday mornings, when I am rushing to the office, skipping breakfast again. First thing that I want to do, after I reach the office, is to sip 2-3 cups of coffee and get rid of the usual Monday sickness. An email from my boss is the last thing that I am expecting to see on my smartphone screen. And Beep. It’s an email from my boss.

Hi Anjali, the Online Help looks great. Thanks for such a quick turnaround. It’s a pleasure to have an expert like you in the team.

I have been working through weekends to complete a crucial delivery. And this totally makes my day. A wide smile covers my face while I start for office. I remember the days when I had just started off in the field of technical communications and with the little experience that I had at that time, I was someone who was nervous and not very confident about my skills.

Being a Technical Communicator requires you to be quick with learning tools and technologies, determining what users need, and helping users accomplish their tasks with the various types of content you create. The communication needs to be precise as well as engaging.

At this point, when I sit down introspecting, I feel that I could have done a few things better. So if you think you are a novice in this field and want to plan your career path to be an expert technical communicator, imbibe these quick tips:

  • Understand that technical communication is more than just technical writing.
    I agree that these two terms are closely connected. But, as the world around you evolves, you will see that newer communication media and changing user preferences will open up opportunities for you to communicate in many ways, not just through writing conventional user guides and help manuals. So explore a variety of writing styles and methodologies and embrace new media.
  • Be patient. In fact, be very patient.
    Your first write-up will be rejected, your following write-ups will be heavily edited, and your first appreciation mail will not come easily. But you will have to be patient to excel. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s crucial to learn from them. Actually, this is how a writer grows: Write > Revise > Enhance. Remember, smart and steady will win the race here.
  • Keep up the investigative skills. Ask a lot of questions.
    Do not worry, if in a product demo, you ask something that leaves someone in the room amused. If you have done your user analysis, do not hesitate to play the user. Keep your probing skills sharp. It won’t take long for people to notice that somebody in the room has understood the product and the user community really well.
  • Keep sharpening your technical skills. Bridge the demand and supply gap.
    Gone are the days when writers used to work around with basic word processors. Today, as users want to see content in various formats, like interactive How-to videos, mobile and search-friendly articles, you as a technical communicator will have to match up to those requirements. Be well-read and flexible so that you can use both technology and skills to produce user delighting content.
  • Be collaborative and grounded.
    Collaborate well with your team and stakeholders. Be grounded and professional when it is about giving and accepting suggestions. Do not take reviews personally. They are done to improve the document. However, if you also choose to improve with each of the reviews (which is highly advisable), you will realize that success will be closer.
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Bronze Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Clever Resourcing

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Clever Resourcing logo

Clever Resourcing

CLEVER Resourcing supports companies with clever new systems to roll out and individuals with a clever invention to bring to market.

We are independent Product Managers /Business Analysts, Project Managers, Testers, Innovators, Project support, Inventor and Investor support, Trainers, Data collectors, Report writers, Process Improvement strategists, data and knowledge management organisers. We ask the right questions to deliver appropriate answers, not just ‘what’ but also ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘awareness’ focused on gaining more profit with less risk.

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PleaseTech – Bronze Sponsor Interview, James Wilding

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James Wilding – PleaseTech Ltd. Account Manager

James Wilding
James Wilding

TCUK: Thank you for becoming a TCUK16 sponsor. Tell us about what motivated you to join us?

JW: We need to tell you a bit about us to explain why we joined TCUK as a sponsor…so here comes the PR!

PleaseTech is a technology company specialising in collaborative document co-authoring and review software. Our flagship product, PleaseReview, is a proven collaborative review and co-authoring solution for Microsoft Word and other document types including source code. It facilitates controlled, simultaneous and secure collaboration for the review and editing of documents.

Whilst document review and co-authoring is recognised as a critical business issue which consumes considerable resources across the organisation, the basic problem remains: if you have a Microsoft Word document (or Excel, PDF, etc.) and need several people to review it, how do you do that in an efficient and controlled way? This is where PleaseReview adds value: it offers control, management and metrics to the review, accommodates both online and offline reviewers (supporting a mobile workforce) and enables secure collaboration with external partners.

In addition to defence contractors, the military and government, PleaseReview is used by 75% of the world’s top 25 pharmaceutical companies, where bringing products to market is a huge endeavour. In this environment, medical writers have to collaboratively edit and review complex documents generated for clinical trials, quality assurance and regulatory submissions. This often requires contributions from area authors and subject matter experts both internal and external to an organisation.

Whilst technical writers are required to work with applications including HTML and XML editors, there are many documents such as user manuals, specifications, guides, contracts and proposals which are created, updated and reviewed in Microsoft Word and PDF. Joining TCUK seems to be a natural fit.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is ‘From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator’. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

JW: When there are many people involved in the review of documents, including experts outside of an organisation as well as different teams internally, this process can be frustratingly slow. Without a proper business process in place, documents distributed via email for review result in hundreds of often conflicting changes, all of which need to be amalgamated into a master copy – just imagine trying to do that using cut and paste! Furthermore, if tracked changes have been used by several participants on a review, it’s almost impossible to see who has commented on what, and why. All this leads to a frustrated team, as well as delayed and inaccurate documents if important changes have been missed.

Consequently, we’re beginning to see a move towards more effective collaboration, with technical writers looking to make the document review and co-authoring process more efficient and transparent. Whereas a few years ago there was a gentle hum of conversation around the topic, there’s now a much louder dialogue going on, as has been seen amongst the analyst, IT and business community.

With increasing regulation and higher compliance standards, reporting and audit trails are also key, detailing what has been changed in a document, by whom, when and why.

TCUK: As a sponsor, what words of advice do you have to encourage technical communicators to attend this year’s conference?

JW: Go and talk to the exhibitors! We regularly exhibit in the US where conference attendees make it a part of their conference experience to talk to the exhibitors and find out what products are on the market. We’re not just saying this so you’ll come and talk to us (although please do!), there are some really great tools out there that can genuinely improve the way you work.

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

JW: We’re really looking forward to being able to talk to delegates to better understand how technical writers approach document review, and the challenges they face, both on a day to day basis, and from an industry perspective.

About PleaseTech

PleaseTech has satisfied customers ranging from small consultancies to global organisations from multiple business sectors including Life Sciences, Defence, IT, Utilities and Government and across disciplines such as regulatory, proposals, software engineering, marketing, contract management, QA and more.

For more information come and see us in the exhibition area, contact us at info@pleasetech.com or visit our website www.pleasetech.com.

PleaseTech logo

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Book now to guarantee your accommodation for TCUK 2016

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Book now to guarantee your accommodation for TCUK16 in Wyboston Lakes this September.

One of the advantages of booking your place at the conference early is that you can feel assured that a room will be guaranteed to be there for you at the hotel.

The full residential package with guaranteed overnight accommodation at the conference hotel is available until Friday 29th July. After that date, each room booking will be on a case by case basis. The closer we get to the event, the greater the risk that the hotel will be full. This means, if you want to stay overnight at the hotel during the conference, you should book your place now.

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TCUK16 Speaker Sarah Richards – “From bit-of-a-scaredy-cat to banning words for the UK government” and “Using evidence and data to have tricky conversations”

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Sarah Richards will be giving a keynote presentation and a workshop at TCUK16: “From bit-of-a-scaredy-cat to banning words for the UK government” and “Using evidence and data to have tricky conversations”.

Sarah Richards
Sarah Richards

Keynote: From bit-of-a-scaredy-cat to banning words for the UK government

Sarah started in a quiet team of editors and ended up banning Whitehall from using their favourite jargon on GOV.UK. Sarah will explain her journey from having to publish whatever lawyers and policy people said to running an agency that will only take on work if the process is agile and user-centred. It’s a tale of tears, sugar, late night pizza, not many kittens and tea*.

* plus how she introduces user-centred content into organisations.

Workshop: Using evidence and data to have tricky conversations

If you have to go through an approval process for your content and you often have a… difference… of opinion with the approver, you might like Sarah’s workshop. Sarah can show you how to have conversations using data and research to back up your arguments. You’ll also learn how to have these conversations without getting into a ‘them vs us’ situation.

About Sarah Richards

Content strategist, digital consultant, and former Head of Content Design for GDS. Sarah has led high-performing, award winning, agile teams, and has a longer and more varied editorial career than she cares to admit.

Sarah started in a quiet team of editors and ended up banning Whitehall from using their favourite jargon on GOV.UK. Sarah will explain her journey from having to publish whatever lawyers and policy people said to running an agency that will only take on work if the process is agile and user-centred.

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TCUK16 Speaker Jack Molisani – “Seven Career Lessons I Learned From Selling Ginsu Knives” and “Be The Captain of Your Career”

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Jack Molisani will be giving a keynote talk and a workshop at TCUK16: “Seven Career Lessons I Learned From Selling Ginsu Knives” and “Be The Captain of Your Career”.

Jack Molisani
Jack Molisani

Keynote: Seven Career Lessons I Learned From Selling Ginsu Knives

In the mid 1990s I was laid off from my position as a Sales Engineer at a leading technology company. The US economy was in recession and I spent months trying to find a new engineering position.

A friend who owned a company that sold Ginsu knives in home and garden shows needed a temporary worker for the summer. She knew I was unemployed and offered me the position. I instantly accepted the offer, glad just to be working.

I ended up loving that summer job. Not only did I get to travel, I learned some life- and career-changing skills along the way.

By the end of the summer the economy started to improve and I landed a position as technical writer. I eventually started my own technical writing and staffing company.

What started out as “just” a temp job for the summer turned into a major turning point in my career.

Want to take your career to the next level?

Master these seven lessons I learned from selling Ginsu knives and watch your career and income soar!

Workshop: Be The Captain of Your Career

Have you ever applied for a job you really wanted, but didn’t get? Or perhaps you landed the job, but feel under compensated?

Chances are you made one (or several) mistakes that are hindering your job and career growth.

In this hands-on workshop you will learn:

  • The most common mistakes professionals make when looking for work—and how to avoid them
  • How to ace a tech comm interview using a portfolio
  • How to hone your workplace negotiation skills

Want a different job, more money, a better standard of living?

Don’t miss this workshop!

About Jack Molisani

Jack Molisani is the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list.

Jack also produces the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Technical Communication Management, and is the president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals.

You can follow him on Twitter @JackMolisani or reach him at Jack@ProspringStaffing.com.

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TCUK16 Speaker Irit Arkin – “Advanced interrogation techniques: Extracting information from engineers”

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Irit Arkin will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Advanced interrogation techniques: Extracting information from engineers”.

Irit Arkin
Irit Arkin

As technical writers, the best source of information we have is engineers: friendly, chatty colleagues who possess all the knowledge we need on a particular topic.

Good luck getting that knowledge out of them, of course.
Over the years, as both software tester and technical writer, I’ve had the chance to succeed – and fail – at asking engineers sensible questions and ensuring comprehensible answers. My TCUK talk will highlight some of the best and worst techniques I’ve employed to gently elicit information out of engineers.

About Irit Arkin

Irit Arkin extracts information from engineers in ARM’s Internet of Things Business Unit. Before that, she moved between writing and software testing for startups, with the occasional foray into spec writing and one (accidental) adventure in project management.

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TCUK16 Speaker Louise Fahey – “Mapping your path in tech comms: Surviving the early years”

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Louise Fahey will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Mapping your path in tech comms: Surviving the early years”.

Louise Fahey

Mapping your path in tech comms: Surviving the early years
Are you a newbie to tech comms? Or are you a tech comms expert charged with the training and development of a newbie? If so, this presentation is for you!

Using my first two years working in tech comms as a reference, I will share tips and tricks that are key to the development of new starters in the field.

This includes advice for breaking into technical communication, entering the profession from a non-technical background, getting over the steep learning curve at the beginning, the key skills you should focus on developing, as well as much more!

About Louise Fahey

Louise Fahey is a Technical Author at Clearswift, based in Reading, UK. She holds an LLB degree in Law Plus and a first-class honours degree in Technical Writing, both from the University of Limerick, Ireland.

Louise is a member of the ISTC, as well as Copy Editor of InfoPlus+, the monthly online newsletter from the ISTC. She is a big fan of MadCap Flare and all things Agile. Louise is also passionate about end-user experience and usability.

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TCUK16 Speakers Deborah Stevens and John Spenceley – “Asking the right questions for product management – knowledge management for an unstructured world”

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Deborah Stevens and John Spenceley will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Asking the right questions for product management – knowledge management for an unstructured world”.

Deborah Stevens
Deborah Stevens
John Spenceley
John Spenceley

Learning to ask the right questions is the starting point to gather and store data. Analysis interprets data to begin our understanding journey along different routes. We can have very different analysis outcomes and documentation needs from travelling these different routes. Product Management includes customer focus and optimum profit. Product Management is a possible career development step for technical communicators. Technology push and scientific description could just be about ‘what’ and limits ‘why’ to how the science and technology works perhaps a more traditional Project Management role. Different focuses require unique journeys through the data.

We structure each output for our unique journey from the same data sets, so organising unstructured material in a logical framework can be a challenge. How can we achieve that?

We will share some key ideas to help your questioning techniques, data collection, organisation and output focus.

About Deborah Stevens

Deborah Stevens is a technical and business communicator and product manager. Deb is a former science advisory teacher who created training rollout material, she has written and illustrated documents for change management and strategy development, manufacturing, operation and maintenance instructions, technical specifications, test scripts and reports. She has worked for large and small companies. Deb is passionate about changing the limiting ‘method, result and conclusion’ often used without exception in science lessons. Where is the content ‘applications where this idea is useful’ and ‘how much does it cost to make x using our equipment?’ A few innovative educators are making a difference. She is also passionate about bringing more innovative ideas to market.

About John Spenceley

John Spenceley is a business analyst and product manager and has an IT management background. He has worked with senior management in British Rail, Thomsons and in the public sector as well as guiding small businesses and technology spin out companies to bring new products to market.

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TCUK16 Speaker Stefan Gentz – “How intelligent information is going to change the world”

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Stefan Gentz, from our TCUK16 Diamond sponsor Adobe, will be giving a vendor presentation at TCUK16 on “How intelligent information is going to change the world”.

Stefan Gentz

The future of technical communication is all about intelligent information. And it’s a hot topic at conferences around the world and the German tekom is even creating an international standard around it. But what does that mean, “intelligent information”?

In this presentation, Adobe Worldwide TechComm Evangelist Stefan Gentz will introduce you to the concept of intelligent information and why we need to change to create technical content that opens up all doors to the future, and what Adobe offers to make it possible. He will explain what we can do to deliver multi-layered, technical content to all communication channels for a mobile and connected world and the Internet of Things, and discuss how to successfully make the shift from technical documentation to technical communication as a marketing tool. He will explain Adobe’s vision for the future and guide you through the Adobe’s new end-to-end Technical Communication ecosystem.

About Stefan Gentz

As the Global Evangelist for Technical Communication at Adobe, Stefan’s mission is to inspire enterprises and technical writers around the world and show how to create compelling technical communication content with the Adobe TCS tools.

Stefan is also a certified Quality Management Professional (TÜV), ISO 9001 / EN 15038 auditor, ISO 31000 Risk Management expert and Six Sigma Champion.

Stefan is a popular speaker and moderator on conferences such as tekom, tcworld, Intelligent Content Conference, Congility, LocWorld, TCUK, STC, GALA, ELIA, and many others. He is also a member of the Conference Advisory Board of the world’s biggest TechComm event, the tekom / tcworld Conferences and an Ambassador for the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA). He is also an active social networker on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Early-bird pricing for TCUK 2016 extended to July 15th

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The early-bird pricing for the Technical Communication UK Conference 2016 has been extended until the 15th of July.

The early-bird all-inclusive residential package is £620 for members and £770 for non-members. These prices will rise to £680 and £830 respectively from 16th July.

The early-bird price for day registrations is £180 for members and £245 for non-members, rising to £210 and £275 respectively from 16th July.

TCUK 2016 is taking place at the Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre between Cambridge and Milton Keynes, from the 13th to the 15th of September. If your boss needs some convincing to send you to TCUK 2016, use our “convince your boss” letter.

To register for TCUK 2016, use our booking form.

Wyboston Lakes aerial view

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3di – Silver Sponsor Interview, Paul Ballard

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Paul Ballard – 3di, Managing Director

Paul Ballard

TCUK: Thank you for returning to sponsor us at TCUK16. Tell us about what motivated you to join us again?

PB: What else would we be doing this time of year? TCUK has always been a crucial part of our efforts to remind technical communicators that we still care a great deal about what’s going on in the profession, and what’s going on in the industries we all work for. In the context of this year, we are looking forward to sharing some of the recent exciting 3di developments: the opening of our office in Krakow, the continued growth of our in-house UK technical authoring team, and the delivery of a major multi-lingual project for Vodafone. As always, we are on the look-out for interesting stories of how people have solved problems, potential new team members, and potential new customers.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is ‘From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator’. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

PB: One of the hardest challenges for experienced technical communicators is being able to adapt in response to whatever new requirements or expectations might well be influencing their work. One of the hardest challenges for new technical communicators is working out what their specialism might be. One of the challenges they have in common is the increasing need (though certainly not new) to communicate their value in terms that make sense to their employer. In some cases it means changing what they do or how they do it so that the value is easier to understand. At 3di we have to justify the value of our services every day so it’s something we have honed to a fine art!

TCUK: As an experienced sponsor – what words of advice do you have to encourage technical communicators to attend this year’s conference?

PB: Stop thinking about it and book! It’ll be your (or your boss’s) best investment this year. The reliable quality of the TCUK content is only part of it. Read the “Convince your boss” letter template on the TCUK website. If you don’t have a boss to convince, still read it, and get clear in your own mind what you stand to gain from attending.

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

PB: If you are asking me to describe the delights of Wyboston Lakes, then I’m going to struggle… it’s not far from Cambridge, which is lovely in September. It’s certainly a smart venue and I think the advantage of this location is how it enables the event to be outstanding value for delegates, and how its proximity to London and Cambridge will attract lots of new people – for whom this will be their first ISTC or TCUK event. And that’s where the success of TCUK as an event for delegates and for sponsors really delivers. The richness of ideas and perspectives that comes from gathering a continually refreshing group of practitioners together is what really makes TCUK work. Several of the UK and Poland 3di team members will be there. Whether they are technical authoring or localisation specialists, they will have new ideas to explore and debate, tools and technologies to investigate, potential new resources to hire, and potential new customers to impress. We can’t wait.

About 3di Information Solutions Ltd.

“Complexity made clear”

3di has delivered technical communication and localization services to global companies, government organisations, and technology and software businesses since 2002. Our in-house team is based near Guildford. Quite a few of us are attending TCUK as delegates.

Our customers and suppliers love working with us and keep coming back. The people we work with day-to-day like our friendly and reliable approach and our focus on quality — we don’t let them down. The people who pay the bills like our competitive rates and our focus on efficient processes — we save them money.

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TCUK16 Speaker Adrian Warman – “From what was, to what might be: Matching career and practice trajectories”

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Adrian Warman will be speaking at TCUK16 on “From what was, to what might be: Matching career and practice trajectories”.

Adrian Warman

Technical communication today is very different to what it was ten years ago. Can we look back briefly at what has changed in technical communication, and identify some common trends that might guide us as aspiring or experienced professionals in the future? What are the skill and experience expectations, and how have they developed?

In particular, this presentation will address: The pendulum of progress, Optimising skills trajectory, and Secret but essential skills.

The presentation will provide the audience with a simple self-evaluation tool to help guide their career path development.

About Adrian Warman

Adrian has been with IBM for fifteen years, and works as an Information Development lead for the Application Platform Services division.

This means he gets to work with all sorts of cool stuff, like applications and mobile tools, and write about them, too.

Before joining IBM, he worked in the telecommunications and retail banking sectors. He began his career as a University Lecturer, researching Information Systems and Computer Security. He maintains active links with universities, and is a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University.

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TCUK16 Speaker John Garison – “Making Agile Work for YOU!”

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John Garison will be speaking at TCUK16 on “Making Agile Work for YOU!”

John Garison

Agile, scrums, backlogs, user stories, sprints…What’s it all about? What do I need to know? And what’s in it for me?

Regardless of the Agile realities at your organization, you can learn to navigate murky waters, get the information you need, and use the Agile method to iteratively produce better, stronger, more useful documentation to support your customers.

Whether your organization is considering a move to Agile or you’re already up to your elbows in backlogs and user stories, you’ll learn some new perspectives, and leave with a better understanding of how you can make Agile work for you.

About John Garison

John Garison is Lead Technical Communicator for Medidata Solutions. His experience in writing about operating systems, programming languages, business applications, and electronic health records (among other things) gives him a unique perspective on most things documentation-related. He delights in sharing information and war stories.

John is an STC Associate Fellow and taught technical writing at Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Despite living on a dead-end dirt road in rural Vermont, his gigabit fiber optic internet lets him keep up with the real world and telecommute to New York City.
See https://www.linkedin.com/in/johngarison for his complete CV.

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TCUK16 Speaker Simon Anstey – “Eliminating Support Tickets”

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Simon Anstey will be speaking at TCUK16 on “Eliminating Support Tickets”.

Simon Anstey

Organizations can be oblivious to the business value of good documentation, and thus overlook its strategic importance. That’s a missed opportunity – and frustrating for us. To change things, we need to show what the value added is. But that’s not easy to quantify.

Our team looked for – and found – a way to improve things. We began collaborating with customer support to improve the documentation for some critical products. This stemmed the flow of support tickets. We estimated the resultant cost savings – and started gaining management’s interest.

This presentation is for writers and managers who would like to evince similar changes.

About Simon Anstey

Simon Anstey leads a team of 25 tech writers at SAP, the world’s largest provider of enterprise application software. The team provides user assistance for 60 country versions of the software.
Simon believes that a collaborative approach to software and user-assistance development benefits customers, employees and profitability, and is currently working with SAP’s support teams to eliminate support tickets through better user assistance.

Simon studied German at Manchester. He has been working in user assistance at SAP in Germany for 22 years, the last 12 in management. In his spare time, he’s an oboist and loves gardening.

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TCUK16 Speaker Alison Reeves – “How to Write a Case Study”

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Alison Reeves will be giving a workshop at TCUK16 on “How to Write a Case Study”.

Alison Reeves

When writing bids, proposals and tenders, writers have to provide case studies to evidence their knowledge and experience. They are also used on websites to demonstrate expertise and in sales situations to evidence benefits. I have created case studies in every business sector from childcare to nuclear submarines!

Your clients’ success stories are a major asset to your business. They describe how you work together, and how your product or service solves a problem. Come along to this very interactive workshop and learn the knack to writing a successful case study. Bring along your laptop and you will go away with a sample case study and a template to use in the future. We will work through the template on the day, and discuss what content, graphics and layout works best. Never feel at a loss again if you are asked to write a case study in the future.

About Alison Reeves

Alison is an experienced freelance technical communicator with a career in documentation spanning over 30 years. She currently specialises in all forms of persuasive writing, helping organisations to write Bids, Tenders and Proposals in addition to writing persuasive copy for websites. Both of these specialisms involve writing case studies to showcase the knowledge and experience of the business. Customers include Microsoft, Fujitsu, Tata, Shell, Siemens, Balfour Beatty Construction, Xerox, Compass Group, Housing Associations and as well as local businesses and charities. Alison is also a creator and trainer of business writing training and a member of the ISTC.

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TCUK16 Speaker Jörg Plöger – “How German Manufacturers Create Technical Documentation with ST4 DocuManager”

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Jörg Plöger, from our TCUK16 sponsor SCHEMA, will be giving a vendor presentation at TCUK16 on “How German Manufacturers Create Technical Documentation with ST4 DocuManager”.

Jörg Plöger

To succeed on a global market, manufacturers have to be flexible, offer different variants, be present in many markets, etc. All these challenges have an impact on the way technical documentation needs to be provided.

Whether it is about localization to three dozen languages, handling variants on different granularity levels, publishing efficiently to different output channels, not getting lost in XML details, etc. ST4 DocuManager offers such features as a ready-to-use solution for technical documentation.

See in a live presentation how more than 100 German and Swiss manufacturers use ST4 DocuManager on a daily basis for

  • Modularizing documents in a simple and effective way
  • Handling variants with different degrees of granularity
  • Localizing into multiple languages
  • Publishing efficiently without scripting in/(into) different formats
  • Integrating MS Word as authoring tool in a 100% XML environment

SCHEMA has gained expertise by having worked for more than 20 years with over 300 industrial customers around the world such as Siemens, Bosch, Philips, Daimler, General Electric, Toyota, MAN, ABB, Lufthansa, Bombardier, Agilent, Sagem, Ericsson, Carl Zeiss, Voith, SEW Eurodrive, Enercon, Senvion, INA Schaeffler, Doppelmayr, etc.

About Jörg Plöger

Jörg Plöger studied mathematics. He has worked in technical communication in a wide variety of industries for more than 20 years. As consultant and trainer, he has travelled around Europe many times. Since 2000, Jörg Plöger has been working in the software industry (Translation Memory Systems (TMS) and Content Management Systems (CMS)). He is sales representative of SCHEMA and based in Bremen, Northern Germany.

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TCUK16 Speaker Toni Ressaire – “Mobilize Your Content: Create EPUBs and Kindle Books”

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Toni Ressaire will be giving a workshop at TCUK16 on “Mobilize Your Content: Create EPUBs and Kindle Books”.

Toni Ressaire

eBooks are not just for reading sci-fi. Why not publish your tech docs for tablets, iPad, and mobile phones?
eBooks are designed for responsive reading devices. It makes sense to publish in formats that offer a pleasant mobile reading experience.

In this hands-on workshop, you will go from Microsoft Word doc to ebook. We’ll start by looking at issues related to creating ebooks, such as file types and device rendering. Then we’ll create an ePUB and Kindle ebook. Finally, you’ll test your ebook. We’ll explore ebook creation software, such as MadCap Flare, Oxygen, Adobe InDesign, FrameMaker and others.

Attendees should bring a laptop computer loaded with a fully-licensed or trial version of Adobe FrameMaker (2015 Release), and the KindleGen plugin, which can be downloaded for free at Amazon.

Optional:

  • Kindle Previewer 2
  • Readium for Chrome
  • Adobe Digital Editions 4.5.1
  • About Toni Ressaire

    Toni is a technical communicator/trainer and indie publisher. After working primarily in the software development industry, she now has some rather non-traditional uses for traditional tech comm tools. She provides training for tech writers and technically-challenged writers who want to create traditional pubs and digital content. Toni blogs about digital publishing at pub.ink and tweets at @Route11eBooks. She has a masters level degree in Technical and Scientific communication from a U.S. university. Toni is an American living in the South of France.

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TCUK16 Speaker Leanne Visser – “And… Action! How to get started with creating instructional videos on a budget”

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Leanne Visser will be presenting at TCUK16 on “And… Action! How to get started with creating instructional videos on a budget”.

Leanne Visser

Is your Online Help wordy and bulky? Is your manager asking for videos, because no one reads manuals? Is it easier to show a workflow instead of documenting it?

Videos are a great tool to reach users: they have a high visual appeal and wow-factor. People like them: over 50% of internet traffic consists of video.

This session is an introduction in making your own instructional videos, focusing on getting started with recording and editing that first video.

Leanne will include lessons learned at Medicore, where they implemented a video curriculum from scratch, so you won’t make the same mistakes!

About Leanne Visser

Leanne is the sole technical communicator at Medicore, a Dutch Healthcare IT company. Being passionate about stories, she studied English Language & Literature.

Her career started with editing and writing articles for catalogues at auction house Christie’s. She traded art for Healthcare IT to become a translator/Project Manager at Epic, and hasn’t looked back.

At Medicore she is in the process of changing the traditional written Online Help into a modern and user friendly documentation suite containing a mix of help texts, Quick Reference Guides and instruction videos.

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TCUK16 Speaker Brian Lanigan – “Becoming an Expert by Always Being a Beginner”

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Brian Lanigan will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Becoming an Expert by Always Being a Beginner”.

Brian Lanigan

It’s comfortable to develop skills slowly, but you don’t know what you can do until you’re really challenged.

This talk discusses a project in which two technical writers implemented an XML authoring environment for their team. Instead of writing, the job involved configuration, information architecture, graphic design, and technical support. It was difficult—sometimes frustrating—but they succeeded.

This talk is not by an ‘expert’. It will reassure beginners of all levels that the way to get better is to tackle your limitations.

Because it’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know…’ if you follow with, ‘…but let’s figure it out.’

About Brian Lanigan

Brian Lanigan is a senior technical writer with TWi, a provider of outsourced technical writing, editing, and documentation solutions based in Cork, Ireland. It suits him just fine: the wide range of clients means there’s always something new to learn.

In the past, he worked as an information developer at SAP Ireland. He also spent some time working in the advertising world, which shares a surprising amount of technique with technical communication.

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TCUK16 Speaker John Kearney – “Empathic Tech Comms: create better content with practical UX techniques”

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John Kearney will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Empathic Tech Comms: create better content with practical UX techniques”.

John Kearney

Traditionally, we Technical Communicators don’t venture far outside our organisations. We rely too much on the experience and opinions of others, such as Product Managers, or second-hand user feedback in the form of bug reports.

In reality, of course, it’s the user experience that matters.
Perhaps you have several years in the profession under your belt. You’ve done your time writing user guides, online help, configuration instructions, and so on. Or maybe you’re a novice author, unscarred by the experience of wrestling with a quirky version control system or editing a 200+ page Word document. You may or may not have poked around the UX field.

UX is comparatively young when compared with Technical Communication, and it offers a fresh perspective that we can benefit from when answering that most important of questions, “What is the user need?” It has valuable techniques that we can combine with our traditional skills. In light of this, I will look at what I think are the most common problems when creating user assistance content, and the cultural challenges that face us when we try to change what’s delivered.

Using practical examples, I will then show which basic UX techniques can help reduce those problems and improve the value of our content. You can expect to hear such terms as topic-based authoring, personas, usability interviews, practical style guides and more. I believe it is this combination of UX and Technical Communication expertise that can help us create truly clear and effective user assistance.

About John Kearney

John became a Technical Author when funding for English Literature postgraduate work dried up. 19 years later, he’s still in the same career, which probably means it was the right decision.

He’s worked for many companies across many sectors, and has now settled back into a permanent role after a couple of years as a contractor. John discovered TCUK in 2009, and has attended every conference since. He is particularly interested in content quality, usability, and accessibility. You can follow him on Twitter if you really want to: @jk1440.

When he’s not doing his job, he can be found with his nose in a book, dancing, or on an archery field.

He is not as tall as some people think.

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TCUK16 Speaker Graeme Dowdell – “System safety and the Technical Author”

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Graeme Dowdell will hold a workshop at TCUK16 on “System safety and the Technical Author”.

Graeme Dowdell

Many organisations now have to demonstrate through assessment and documentation that their products are acceptably safe to use. This is known as System (or Product) Safety.

This workshop will look at what skills, knowledge and capabilities the Technical Author can bring to the assessment and documenting of System Safety. We will also examine what a Technical Author cannot do in this field, and when to say no.

This workshop will not deal with specifications. It will focus instead on roles and responsibilities, the concept and assessment of Safety Risk, introduce participants to a few key techniques, and explore the principle documentation issues. The workshop will also briefly consider Risk mitigation, Risk transfer, and how the results of the safety assessment affect the technical publications.

About Graeme Dowdell

Graeme Dowdell FISTC initially followed the classic career path of becoming a Technical Author, progressing to Senior Technical Author, and then managing a small technical publications department. He then broadened the scope of his work and became a Publications and Integrated Logistic Support Manager. In addition to technical publications, that role included managing the assessment and documentation of system safety; managing reliability, availability and maintainability studies; and other equipment support activities. Since 2008 he has enjoyed being his own one-man company.

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TCUK16 Speaker Tina Hoffmann – “What’s at Stake? – An introduction to stakeholder management and creating positive working relationships”

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Tina Hoffmann will be presenting on “What’s at Stake? – An introduction to stakeholder management and creating positive working relationships”.

Tina Hoffmann

You will have heard of ‘stakeholder management’ but why should you care? And what does it mean? Is it only me or does the advice offered by those who tell us ‘to engage with our internal and external stakeholders’ often have a Machiavellian ring to it?

This presentation aims to show how you can use the basic principles of stakeholder management to build trust, resolve conflict and create more positive working relationships.
Learn how to draw and code your own map (templates provided) and strengthen the interpersonal skills required to enhance your relationships, to benefit you and others.

About Tina Hoffmann

Tina’s career path has meandered from literature and art history via localisation to technical communication. As a supporter of William Morris, Tina believes you should have no document that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. With most documentation containing everything the user needs but cannot find Tina spends a lot of time ‘tidying’.

As Documentation Lead, Tina looks after the technical authors responsible for all IT operational documentation for a leading payment processing organisation. She is accountable for end-to-end delivery of documentation to the company’s “Command Centre” and setting the direction for operational documentation.

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TCUK16 Speaker Liz Gregory – “A three-eighths Gripley by any other name (see also: terminology management for technical authors)”

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Liz Gregory will be presenting at TCUK16 on “A three-eighths Gripley by any other name (see also: terminology management for technical authors)”.

Liz Gregory

Technical authors all know the importance of using consistent language for clear communication. We also know that maintaining consistency can get difficult when you have large projects, multiple products and authors, SMEs with opinions, or a project handover. And the difficulties get magnified if you need to think about translation. Terminology management can really help, and is a great tool to add to your authoring box. This talk will describe a technical author’s journey from novice to terminology champion, and explore some ideas and techniques that work for projects of all shapes and sizes. Unleash your inner word herder!

About Liz Gregory

Liz Gregory is a technical author who recently made the leap from authoring in a team to being a sole author. She has a background in chemistry and education and writes about both hardware and software. Since starting as a junior author four years ago, she has progressed to an experienced, confident author, and a champion of terminology management and source control. A self-confessed nerd for words, Liz will talk with anyone about anything, and is a dedicated member of the Thames Valley ISTC group. In her spare time she enjoys knitting, web comics, and ballroom dancing.

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TCUK16 Speaker Chris Hester – On style guides and portfolios

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At TCUK16, Chris Hester will be presenting on “You’ve got style, darlings” and giving a workshop on “From Paperweight to Conversation Piece: Building a Portfolio You Love (and Love to Talk About)”.

Chris Hester

Presentation: You’ve got style, darlings

Whether we’re technical writers or content strategists, freelancers or full-time employees, we (secretly) have our own preferences when it comes to using our words and getting things done. Too easily, we (not so secretly) lose patience with others’ peccadilloes when they don’t abide by the guide.

A good style guide supports a team, whereas a poor style guide is a hindrance. And what if you join a team that has no style guide? Where do you even begin?

Let’s discuss decisions and processes we must consider with respect to style guides, including the decisions to “kill some darlings.”

Workshop: From Paperweight to Conversation Piece: Building a Portfolio You Love (and Love to Talk About)

There is nothing more awkward in an interview than watching someone glance through your portfolio without comment, other than watching it sit untouched.

This workshop focuses on moving your portfolio off the table and into the conversation, starting with a discussion about why we need portfolios and how to develop them. Then, we will break into small groups for review and “first impression” feedback from your peers. Remember to bring your portfolio!

We will reconvene to share highlights of the review, along with tips and techniques for creating a portfolio you are excited about. You will leave the workshop with feedback from each person in your group, plus a plan for showcasing your work going forward.
Portfolios of all shapes, sizes, and formats are welcome to this workshop, as are attendees who may not have a portfolio or those who hire technical communicators.

About Chris Hester

As an independent consultant and the founder of Red Desk Studio, Chris has delivered successful content strategy, training, and knowledge management projects to a variety of clients, including those in the advertising, construction management, entertainment, and healthcare industries.

Chris is an STC Fellow and has been actively involved in the technical communication community as a volunteer, academic mentor, and presenter at events such as the STC Summit, LavaCon, and BigDesign.

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TCUK16 Speaker Troy Stein – “What do viewers want from videos?”

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Troy Stein will be presenting at TCUK16 on “What do viewers want from videos? Updated Research and Findings”.

Troy Stein

In 2013, 1900 participants told us what makes an effective video.
In 2016, we followed up to see how these video viewing preferences had changed.
We will present the research results. We’ll cover practical tips to improve videos and engagement. We’ll discuss the role of humor, visuals, audio, story telling and more.
This is a sales-free, marketing-free presentation. No product promotions whatsoever.

About Troy Stein

Troy Stein has 20 years corporate video experience. Troy has worked for Cisco Systems, Netscape, his own video company and currently works at TechSmith Corporations. He’s an avid story teller, football (soccer) player, father of five and recently returned from a motorcycle trip across the Arizona desert.

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TCUK16 Speaker Ellis Pratt – “Moving into API documentation writing”

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Ellis Pratt will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Moving into API documentation writing”.

Ellis Pratt

With many software developers now spending their time developing APIs, there’s an increasing demand for API documentation writers. However, Technical Communicators might be uncertain how to migrate to these roles.

In this session, we’ll look at:

  • What is an API and what is API documentation?
  • The role of an API documentation writer, and how it differs from mainstream Technical Author roles
  • The skills you need as a writer of API documentation
  • The tools used to create API documentation
  • Becoming an API documentation writer

About Ellis Pratt

Ellis Pratt is a Director and Help Strategist at Cherryleaf, a technical writing services and training company based near London, in the United Kingdom. He has over 20 years of experience working in the field of documentation, has a BA in Business Studies, and is an Associate of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Ellis was ranked the most influential blogger on technical communication in Europe, and he is also on the management council for the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC).

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TCUK16 Speaker George Lewis – “DevOps documentation: Manage documentation in a shared ownership environment”

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George Lewis will be presenting at TCUK16 on “DevOps documentation: Manage documentation in a shared ownership environment”.

George Lewis

DevOps encapsulates the collaboration between Development and Operations teams to create, deliver and operate a product or service. But in such a collaborative structure, who is responsible for the documentation?

Technical authors face a challenge when working with collaborative structures: knowledge is created in the team with the right specialty, not necessarily in the team which owns the document.
As organisations seek to deliver products and services to market at an ever quicker pace, collaborative structures such as DevOps are becoming more common. To make the issue more challenging, these teams may be spread across different organisations and countries.

I shall share doc-department’s experience working with DevOps organisation and how we overcame these challenges with an Open DevOps documentation approach that supports collaboration and communications across teams.

About George Lewis

George is the Managing Director of doc-department; a company that helps organisations access best in class technical authoring services to support their operations and marketing strategies.
Having started his career in tech comm over 15 years ago in Germany, George has served his time as a writer of documents as well as a consultant helping organisations automate their documentation workflows.

George is passionate about changing the perception of tech comm from a costly burden to a solution for business information issues.

You can follow George and doc-department on @docdepartment or on their blog at blog.doc-department.com.

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TCUK16 Speaker Rahel Anne Bailie – “Pushing Syrup through a Straw: When Content Exceeds Capacity”

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Rahel Anne Bailie will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Pushing Syrup through a Straw: When Content Exceeds Capacity”.

Rahel Anne Bailie

What happens when you have thousands of products – or maybe tens or hundreds of thousands – and not enough capacity to deal with them? In a play on “it takes a village to raise a child”, it takes a content ecosystem to produce content with any sort of efficiency. In the brief period of a presentation, we will look at some techniques for dealing with large volumes of product content to a publication-ready state, and how to create the village to raise content.

About Rahel Anne Bailie

Rahel Anne Bailie, Chief Knowledge Office for Scroll, runs the content strategy practice and consults for clients with serious content challenges. She blends techniques from multiple disciplines to develop content strategies that have business impact. Rahel also teaches in the Content Strategy Master’s Program at FH-Joanneum, runs the Content, Seriously meetup, and is working on her third industry book: writing content for a structured authoring environment.

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TCUK16 Speaker Madhu G – “Technical Writing and Instructional Design: A great confluence!”

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Madhu G will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Technical Writing and Instructional Design: A great confluence!”

Madhu G

Technical Writing (TW) and Instructional Design (ID) are two professions that have one basic element in common – information design. Both professions aim to provide informative content to the audience. Technical Writers stand to benefit from using the principles of ID.
In this presentation, I will provide pointers on how some of the ID principles can be used in TW to enhance:

  • Content planning and authoring.
  • Seeking customer feedback.
  • Providing alternative learning solutions.

About Madhu G

Madhu is working as a Senior Information Developer at ARM Embedded Systems, India. He holds a degree in Information Science & Engineering, and became a technical writer by choice. Over the past ten years, he has worked with various companies such as IBM, Capgemini, Alcatel Lucent, and Cisco on diverse domains. Madhu has played different roles in these companies such as, Software Developer, Instructional Designer, Courseware Developer, Scrum Master and Information Developer.

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