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TRIDOC 2002: Gaining Experience for a Knowledge Economy
2002, Q2 (March 04, 2007)
By Mike Boyd, Senior Member, Carolina Chapter

Attending the Carolina Chapter's two-day TRIDOC 2002 conference at the RTP Holiday Inn was like eating candy that contains myriad bits and pieces of different, delectable flavors: Every time I went to another session, a new flavor burst forth! In spite of having to brush my teeth more frequently, it was an informative and enjoyable two days.

Held April 26 - 27, the conference featured several tracks: for example, Technical Editing, Indexing, Career Management, and the ever-popular General.

Before the conference, I was unsure what I would gain from the conference; I knew that it would be a great opportunity for networking, but my expectations as to professional development were somewhat limited. My apprehension quickly dissolved as I attended numerous top-notch presentations on well-conceived topics. Quality was the operative word at TRIDOC 2002.

Session sampling

Diane Feldman led an interesting session on "Peer Editing: A Practical Solution?" The group came to the conclusion that the answer is "no" in most situations. During discussions, several participants mentioned that a distinction should be made between peer reviewing and peer editing. Peer review can have many advantages, peer editing can present many problems. If peer editing or peer review is implemented, the group agreed that there needs to be a process in place that heads off as many of the potential problems as possible. (The August 2002 issue of STC's "Technical Communication" will have an article on technical editing. It discusses peer reviews and peer editing.)

I enjoyed Neil Perlin's introduction to XML or "extensible markup language." He presented the information at an appropriate level for most of the audience (from what I gathered during the discussion). For me, XML sometimes has stood for excessively murky languagelike a muddy lake.

But I keep hearing presentations and it's becoming clearer. Neil did a good job clearing away much of the silt.

Michael Harvey led two sessions, "Getting Results with E-Mail" and "It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint" In the latter, he drew interesting and helpful comparisons between preparing for a marathon and managing one's career. His approach gave a fresh outlook and was helpful. "Results" and "e-mail" often do not seem to belong in the same sentence, but Michael showed us the errors in this type of thinking. The group discussed helpful ideas on using the Subject line more effectively, separating the wheat from the chaff, and remembering that office e-mail should not be misused — for your good as well as your employer's.

Being 'Plug and Play'

Mark Hanigan, immediate past president of the STC, gave an informative and entertaining keynote address on Friday. During his talk ("The 'Plug and Play' Technical Communicator"), Mark took a historic look at continuing trends we have witnessed. (Some of us have witnessed more of them than others.) There have been recessions in the past. There will be more recoveries and more recessions.

Mark declared that the challenge for technical communicators is to keep ahead of the proverbial game and keep ourselves current on techniques and tools as well as fast-moving events in disciplines such as pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. Also, he urged us to be flexible and to use all of our communication skills to keep abreast of what's going on in industry and the world.

Small is great

A key feature of the TRIDOC treat was that it was a small conference. Two days, four meeting rooms used, all on one floor in one building, approximately 70 attendees, and so forth. Attendance was less than hoped for. The plus side, however, was that this meant that there was more time to talk with the presenters and other attendees.

As you would expect, this led to even more interesting and informative sessions. The presenters continually responded to feedback and questions. Interactions in the sessions were always educational and even exciting.

The location contributed to the conference's quality. The meeting rooms at the RTP Holiday Inn were comfortable, and the hotel staff was professional and courteous. I've attended several events at this hotel and always have been pleased with the service and how well they made their visitors comfortable.

To review the program and learn more about the presenters and the presentations, go to http://www.stc-carolina.org/conference/program.shtml.

I look forward to TRIDOC 2003. I hopeyou can be there, too.

Mike is a contract instructional designer with TPS, Inc. He can be reached at blueboyd at bellsouth dot net. End of article.

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