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Meeting Recap: Open Mic Event Showcases Chapter Talent
2009, Q2 (July 21, 2009)

May Open-Mike Event (or, Education via Shameless Self Promotion)

by Vincent Reh

Over two dozen Chapter members and guests gathered for an informal series of “open mic” presentations on Saturday, May 16 at the Cameron Village Regional Library in Raleigh. Modeled after musical open mic gatherings wherein attendees take the stage to sing or play, chapter members demonstrated their considerable expertise by speaking on a variety of topics ranging from finding work to getting up to speed with structured writing.

Perhaps reflecting the times, presentations fell into two categories: careers and new technologies. Chris Benz kicked off the meeting with his reprise of John Hedtke’s recent Summit presentation, “Seeding the Clouds,” which offered numerous tips on finding work in a down economy. Also on the career path, Monique Cobb related her experiences in successfully landing a job in “Networking and Job Searching in Difficult Times.”

On the technology track, Bill Albing’s presentation, “Social Media: Its Lure and Limits,” offered a broad overview of the emerging online social networking milieu, otherwise known as “Web 2.0,” which includes such gateways as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. John Martin spoke at length about the latter, including its explosive popularity and its effects on human interaction. Rounding out the tech talk was Carl Lewis, who led a discussion on structured writing, focusing on DITA and XML, and his efforts to come to grips with the new applications. In true open mic fashion, Nancy Shoemaker gave an impromptu talk about WordPress, a popular open-source, web-based blogging tool.

Along with the standup presentations, audience members engaged in ongoing discussions with each other and with the presenters—both during the meeting and at local lunch spots—resulting in the free exchange of ideas, information, and experiences. “It felt like a normal Saturday with friends learning in a conversation-type atmosphere. I loved it and believe we need to do more of these,” said Monique Cobb.

For those seeking jobs, Emily Toone, owner of TPS, Inc., a Raleigh technical communication services firm, offered private resume evaluations, resulting in her being busy for most of the morning and afternoon.

Both attendees and presenters had a pleasant, productive time. Wendy Sibley commented, “As a ‘lone tech writer,’ I was grateful to have a more intimate forum for meeting fellow professionals and learning more about trends in my profession. Thanks to all involved in making the event possible. From my perspective, it was a great success.”

Because of the popularity of the gathering, organizers Andrea Wenger and Betsy Kent are considering holding additional open mic events. Stay tuned for further developments—hope to see you at the next performance!

Andrea and Betsy would like to thank all who attended, especially the presenters and Nancy Shoemaker for providing the projector. Special thanks go to Emily Toone for providing the refreshments and for her resume critiquing services.

Vincent is the owner of Byron Hill Ltd., a Cary technical writing services firm specializing in hardware documentation. He can be reached at treasurer at stc-carolina dot org. End of article.

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