25 October 2011

Technical Communication UK 2011 (Day 3)

I spent most of the final day in the ‘Anything but text’ stream, with the only exception being the first session of the day.

I began the final day of the conference by attending Zsuzsa Nagy's session (‘The ups and downs for using a wiki for tech pubs guidelines’) as I had suggested a wiki to a current client to meet their requirements for content that was centrally stored and easily updated... and I had promised to investigate further at the conference. Zsuzsa’s session answered the majority of my questions, and I found some of the hints and tips she gave for keeping the content up to date very useful.

Zsuzsa’s company uses twiki, an open source wiki that is easily customisable. They add a few bits of information to every page: the owner of the page (so someone had responsibility for ensuring the content was current) and the date when the content was last reviewed. Last reviewed was felt to be more useful than last changed, as a review may result in no changes to the content if it is still accurate – but it was felt people were more confident to use the content if they could see it had been checked relatively recently.

I followed Zsuzsa’s session with one given by someone who feels like an old friend. Ron Blicq ran a short workshop at the very first ISTC conference I attended, and I remember sitting with him at lunchtime on that day and feeling very much at ease. Ron’s presentation this time was particularly inspiring for me, as he had used his communication skills to reach a very special audience: people with learning difficulties and their parents. I was impressed both with the way Ron had approached the task, presenting the information as a series of short plays, and the way in which the scripts were so true to life. I believe Ron is writing an article about this project for the Winter 2011 edition of Communicator – and even though I was at the presentation, I will read it with great interest.

Staying with the non-text theme, Matt Pierce from TechSmith gave us some ideas on screen captures using Snag-It (a favourite tool of mine) – and in return, I mentioned to him some of the little niggles I have with the program.

Afer lunch, Matthew Ellison’s session (‘Speak out! Narrate your way to success’) helped those of us who occasionally have to provide audio to accompany our software simulations to do so with more confidence. One piece of information from Matthew really stuck in my mind – and was useful just a few days later. He said to try to record as much audio as you could in one go, and if you needed to have a second (or third) session to try to do the recording at the same time of day. I had noticed that I sometimes sounded different when playing back audio to tidy it up, but hadn’t realised until Matthew said that the time of day (and how much I had been using my voice) was one of the things causing the difference.

The popular questions and rants session from the previous year was repeated, with a number of participants each being allocated three minutes to have their say. I had a question/rant myself... why do Adobe products (Captivate and FrameMaker are the two that mainly affect me) make it impossible to make changes to a file created in an older version without upgrading the format to the new version?

The closing keynote was given by Ellis Pratt – thank you, Ellis, for stepping in at virtually the last minute. A very interesting talk, which rounded the three days off nicely, giving us plenty to think about as we found our way home.

No comments:

Post a comment

Comments are welcome - but we will delete any that appear to be spam. If you need an answer to a specific question, please visit the website and send it using our contact form (links on the right of the blog).