So the day starts out like this: I got home way too late to make the morning session. But apparently the opening presenter didn't open. It was more of the business status, which was a repeat of yesterday. This started at 9:00 am, so I eventually didn't worry about being late. However, from what I understand, Erin McKean did a great job in her presentation. However, on my way from Fort Worth to Dallas, I received text messages like "Just kill me now" and "OMG where are you? This is hell." This was all before Erin spoke. Later I found out it was yet another rehash of the current state of business of STC.
Digression: The current state of business was, by this time, in the 3rd proclamation. However, many members complained about this. My overall problem with the the overall state of STC and the "we're still around" message is the disconnect between the message and the reality. There was a lot of "you're still relevant" rhetoric spoken to an audience of at least 500 people who somehow paid and traveled to the STC 2010 Summit; obviously they feel they are relevant enough to invest in a $700 to $1000 conference to expand their educations and meet other technical communicators. The next, and most important, issue I had was the message the economy was somehow linked to the decline in membership and the overall contribution to STC issues overall. I was membership manager at the Chicago chapter and noticed a drop in membership as early as 1999. When I became membership manager, there were between 1000 and 1200 Chicago STC members. When Chicago membership dropped below 800, we were worried. Now, I think that chapter is fewer than 200. This is an overall trend that doesn't track directly with the economy. STC should stop correlating membership decline with the economy. While a decline in employment and income may contribute to a lack of willingness to pay for extra-curricular activities, there is no data directly correlating economic issues with decline in membership of STC to as far back as say, 1995. An increase in cost of membership, changing technologies, cultural changes, and other factors don't seem to be part of the message. Therefore, the continual cheer-leading for still being around in spite of things is kind of depressing to those of us who believe technical communication is relevant and actually work in the field daily.
All Whitney All Day
I attended all sessions outside of the opening keynote. It was all Whitney all day long. @whitneyhess did a presentation on UXD misconceptions. In true technical writer, traditional, 3-ring binder mentality, she was grilled durin her Q&A. One attendee went so far as to question why she was even presenting. He also wanted to know where UXD fit into the software development life cycle (SDLC). Sadly, I felt Whitney's pain. However, she hit her stride in the Q&A portion. About a third of attendees left during her presentation and didn't stay for the Q&A where Whitney batted tough questions. I've already decided that Whitney is better off-the-cuff than presenting. Considering the circumstances, I don't know how she didn't open fire on some of the questioners except she didn't have a gun handy.
Whitney Quesenbery ( @whitneyq ) spoke at the next session on story-telling as part of the UX process. I can't say more than this: somebody who gets UXD and tells a story to technical communicators about story-telling gets an excellent rating. She knows her material and @whitneyq completely lured the audience into learning how important narrative is to learning for both user and developer.
The final session from today went back to @whitneyhess. She presenting on evangelizing yourself. First of all, considering she had a somewhat hostile audience in her first session, she didn't know anyone in STC to begin with, and she was discussing ways to put yourself out there, she kicked ass. Her material wasn't ground-breaking, but more relevant to old-school-3-ring-binder STC old-guard than she realized. She asked, for example, how many people in her session where NOT on Twitter; over half the room raised hands. Her message was relevant. I also respect she wasn't afraid of dropping the f-bomb. I loved it. To those leaders who will read any complaints about that: don't let the fact that Whitney was relevant and trying to wake up the attendees keep anyone from putting that presentation online.
Finally, I have one word for Whitney Hess: INFECTIOUS
After meeting her in person, I know why she is a rising star. She is naturally infectious and bright. If you dismiss her because of her youth, then you need to get a life.
After Session Dinner and Tweetup
I attended the Tweetup. @Ninety7 did a fantastic job of putting things together, in spite of the fact that Gator's employees are apparent idiots and lied about the Shiner keg being empty. I'll say this: getting served in plastic cups is a little too frat-house for me. And a staff that lies about what beers are available from kegs sounds like the employees are covering for somebody else being opportunistic, like the dude who took the sponsor dollars from @Ninety7 and put it in his pants and then served us Bud Lite as apposed to Shiner Bock, which they continued to serve all night to those willing to pay. To that dude I say: Robert (@Nintey7) will find you and eat your rotting corpse.
At the tweetup, I spoke to my favorite peeps which led me to being home so late. However, I will never, ever, ever trade time with @chris_oh, @techcommdood, @AngelosTzelepis, @rachelhpeters, @whitneyhess, @willsansbury, @kirstyt, @yina_li, or @afox98 for any STC business presentation or even anything else. It was awesome.
Finally, @techcommdood and I figured out the awkward corner in the bathroom was too weird not to mock. Check it out to the right. Also note that from now on, we declare the new hashtag #fraternitykitchen to apply to all drunken philosophizing. We were trapped by a guy with cool tats, but he apparently didn't understand that I'm immune to drunken philosophizing.
Related articles by Zemanta
- STC 2010 Day One Super Summary (mkanderson.com)
- Meet you at STC! (blogs.adobe.com)
- Bodies of Knowledge for Technical Communication: Paradigms and Possibilities (tc.eserver.org)
- Embracing Social Media: Presentation Slides (blogs.adobe.com)