I was excited to attend Jack Molisani’s presentation at STC San Diego’s September chapter meeting, but didn’t expect to win such a wonderful door prize: Free admission to LavaCon 2019! I was enormously grateful for this windfall and eager to take advantage of it.
San Diego’s fire-plagued, 95 degree weather was a jarring contrast to Portland’s brisk mid-50’s autumn chill. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the brisk weather during my morning treks from my AirBnB room to the downtown conference location. I arrived a day early to go to the pre-conference workshops, and was glad I did. In the workshop I attended, we acted out personas that represented different business areas and roles with competing priorities. The task we struggled with was to agree on a unified content strategy while completing a series of realistic exercises. There’s a sort of bonding that took place that day; I got to know my table mates during our interactive exercises. They became the “buds” I’d check in with over the next few days.
Lavacon session themes
This session set the stage for the conference’s major themes: how to unify content from silos across the enterprise, leverage new immersive technologies, and create stellar content experiences. The Lavacon conference offered a dizzying array of provocative sessions to choose from, ranging from “Tidying Up: Clear Out Content and Choose Joy” to “This Time With Feeling: Bringing the Arts and Humanities to Tech.” There was also a play area where I was able to don a headset and truly envision the real learning possibilities of virtual reality–beyond gaming and entertainment.
I think the most interesting aspect of the conference was the breadth of roles of the attendees. Although there were plenty of tech writers at LavaCon, there were also many content strategists from companies like Facebook, Pinterest, and Venmo. These people develop UI text, messages, button labels, and everything needed to create the voice, tone, and personality of the everyday apps that have become a regular part of our lives. LavaCon bills itself, among other things, as the place to “find your tribe.”
For my part, I gained awareness that we are part of an expanded tribe. Technical writers and communicators work closely with content developers and strategists. Adobe Evangelist Stefan Gentz’s session “This is Not a Manual; This is an Experience” really focused on this concept. He emphasized that technical communication is marketing communication. He taught that techcomm needs to become part of customer experience management because we all contribute to our customers’ experience throughout their journey.
A few things to note:
- Many presenters post their slides to slideshare.net, so you can go there and see presentations
- The conference offers a virtual track which livestreams all keynote sessions and a breakout session from each slot. It seems like a great cost-efficient way to attend if you can’t go in person.
It had been quite a while since I attended a professional conference, and I had forgotten how energizing and stimulating a good one can be. Anyone up for the STC Summit next May in Bellevue?