Hitchhikers’ Guide to Technical Communications Conferences

“The Guide is definitive.  Reality is frequently inaccurate.” Douglas Adams

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The late (and great) Douglas Adams would have been 61.54 years old this year had he not left his family, friends and fans far too soon.  In honor of him, the greatest technical writing user documentation of all time, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the fact we’ve been cycling around Portland for the last 36 hours waiting on the start of the Intergalactic LavaCon Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies, we thought a supplement would be appropriate.

Also, all of The Guide’s good information on Earth conferences was removed after the hyperspace bypass “incident” a few years ago. There isn’t much time, if you believe in that sort of thing, so grab yourself a cup of tea, a good traveling towel and a trusty babel fish and we’ll start going down as many roads as we can before class starts on Sunday.

  1. Don’t Panic.  Content strategy, tools and techniques, and emerging skills are all there for the taking, plus some nifty post-conference workshop sessions on Thursday.  Pace yourself, or the next thing you know you’ll have that falling feeling, which may just be your head on the table.
  2. Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is the greatest drink in existence, so while you’re there be certain to have it with an Oregon microbrew along with some of the best deep-thinking barbeque in the Universe.  You drink wine in France; you drink beer in Portland.
  3. Conferences are great, if you like that sort of thing, for meeting people and partying until the world comes to an end. If you happen to meet some tech comm and content strategy people at this Intergalactic LavaCon event, and before you run off with the new Intergalactic President, you really need to find a good way to contact them.  Some good tools for processing those cards if Marvin isn’t around: CardMunch if you’re sporting an iPhone or Evernote Hello.
  4. 4.1 Portland is big.  Really big.  You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is.  I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Portland.  No, this tip really doesn’t provide any useful information, but was fun to write. 4.2 Take your time, we’ll wait.
  5. Be nice to anything that even resembles beavers or salmon, the mice have delegated management of the city to them. Grab a picture or two, but be respectful—they’ll be our overlords some day.
  6. Thanks to the first class presentations you’ll be hearing a great deal of new information at LavaCon.  Take your babel fish and ask a bunch of questions to ensure that you really understand the points.  Recommended tools: Moleskin Journals, MindJet MindManager, and \ or a sometimes-gloomy robot with a great memory. ;)
  7. Until March of 2006, Vogon poetry was considered the third worst in the Universe, but has since been relegated to fourth*.  Now a stream of random Tweets that only make sense to those attending the event earns a higher spot.  Tweet responsibly—listen to the speakers and then share the best of the best.
  8. No self-respecting technical communications hitchhiker should attend a conference without their towel.  Good for psychological value and for softening the table if you haven’t followed rule #1.
  9. Think about joining us in a good place for raising a glass to Douglas Adams  – follow #LavaCon  for the locations.

In our next edition, we’ll search for the secret ruler of the Technical Communications Universe.

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  Douglas Adams

Oh no, not again.

So long and thanks, see you in Portland.

* We are unsure if Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex ever had a Twitter account.

Megadodo Publications

One of the great publishing houses of Ursa Minor Beta, Megadodo Publications headquarters recently relocated from Ursa Minor Beta, where its pair of 30-story office buildings connected partway up their height by a walkway, so that the entire structure resembles giant letter H. The president of Megadodo Publications is Zarniwoop, who is always too cool to see visitors.

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