LavaCon Sneak Peek: Getting Jazzed about Content in New Orleans

lavacon2015LavaCon, the conference on content strategy and technical communication management moves to New Orleans this year. More than 300 professionals from around the world are getting jazzed about attending this top-rated event, taking place October 18-21.

More than 85 speakers will deliver 6 workshops, and 65 breakout sessions, giving attendees a range of useful, relevant choices for learning, sharing and networking. In fact, some attendees are having trouble choosing among breakout sessions scheduled at the same time.

Founder and Executive Director Jack Molisani strives to maximize the value of attending the LavaCon Conference with a unique combination of experiences—professional development and networking complemented by amazing food and fun social opportunities.. New LavaCon attendees will find the conference invaluable in covering trending topics that professionals need to understand.

Jack selects speakers that represent many different niches in the profession, all of whom willingly share their knowledge and practical experience. No matter what industry you work for, the information you get is relevant, useful, and ready to use. Presenters include professionals working in Fortune 500 multi-national companies, such as Adobe, Boeing, Intuit, Oracle, Facebook, and Intel, and small, nimble organizations on the leading edge of content technologies and practices.

Besides sharing industry best practices, colleagues showcase their actual, practical experiences in implementing tools, designing new processes, adopting methodologies and techniques, and managing change. “You get to talk to other people who are doing content strategy in their companies and you can learn what worked and what didn’t,” says Jack.

Jack understands that not all content strategy projects are successful, nor can managers always rely on on traditional communications management practices to achieve aggressive goals. “I’m a firm believer of learning mistakes from others instead of making them yourself.” Less-than-successful efforts offer insights that can help others. For example, learning about another’s struggles with a project similar in scope and size to yours can help you avoid pitfalls you might not otherwise know about.

Pre-Conference Workshops and Sessions

Along with breakout sessions divided into five tracks, attendees can also benefit from the pre-conference workshops and expanded online offerings. This year, the conference registration fee includes one workshop. All of the breakout sessions will be recorded as they are presented live, to give professionals post-conference access to this cache of extremely valuable information. “I’ve gotten many requests from people to record the sessions because they have a tough time choosing between two great sessions happening at the same time,” says Jack.

Here’s a summary of some the pre-conference workshops on the LavaCon 2015 schedule, along with presenters’ thoughts about what attendees can expect.

Adaptive Content Modeling for UX

Noz Urbina offers his workshop on adaptive content modeling for user experience. To Noz, content modeling serves as the backbone of an omnichannel content strategy, and he recommends using the COPE model, create once, publish everywhere. “Our industry went from providing documents, to providing digital pages and is now moving on to directly providing answers,” Noz explains. “The relevance of those answers is paramount. Brands want to tailor content to a user’s phase in their relationship with us, historical actions or purchases, and even specific situational contexts. The workshop demonstrates how to structure, store and create the back-end content to supply those relevant answers in any channel or format.”

New Manager Bootcamp

Do you ask yourself, “What do I do now that I’m a manager?” Maybe you just got promoted and need to learn how to manage your team. Or maybe you just arrived at the new firm with a mandate to build a team. If Technical Communication management doesn’t automatically come to mind, Eeshita Grover and Charles Rygula stand ready to help you out with their bootcamp for new managers. Charles and Eeshita offer a variety of roleplaying activities to expose participants to real-life management challenges. “Join us in the New Manager Bootcamp, where you can focus on learning about the tech comm landscape and the value of playing the role model,” says Eeshita.

Snakes and Ladders: Content Collaboration in the Real World

Did you ever play Snakes and Ladders as a kid? Content collaboration kinda happens the same way in the adult world–sometimes you get help and other times you get hindered. Nolwenn Kerzreho and Joe Gollner present their workshop on how to lay out your content change initiative and plan the tactics to implement it. According to Nolwenn, “attendees will learn how to adapt the game principles for their own project board, identify their own risks and benevolent factors, which will be added to a wider pool of risks and benefits for content projects.” Also, she said “Attendees will also experience directly how games can enhance project planning and collaboration.” With planning out content change comes the challenges of getting and using the tools. “Implementing a CMS is hard work. Even planning that implementation is hard,” Joe says. “So with this workshop we try to help people along by tapping into the experiences of other practitioners and making it easier to build a good plan. And we do it using a game metaphor that can be a lot of fun. You get a better plan and have fun. What’s not to love about that?”

REST API

Marta Rauch and Gururaj BS (Guru) present a workshop that introduces REST APIs, a hot new category for technical writers. An API (Application Programming Interface) helps systems connect with each other and shares data with other devices and systems. To prepare for documenting REST APIs, Marta says their workshop will allow participants to “get an overview of the technology, look at a sample REST API, watch a demo of a REST interface, and learn about emerging documentation best practices for REST APIs.”

Attending LavaCon

Absorbing the amount of industry knowledge from the keynotes and breakout sessions can seem like drinking from a fire hose. With so many great sessions attendees had an often-difficult choice of choosing one over the other. A great new feature of LavaCon 2015 is recording of all sessions for later review. Jack suggests printing out the Schedule at a Glance to check out the major tracks and put together a personal plan. The conference theme focuses revenue generation and cost savings from content initiatives. If you’re a conference hopeful, you can convince your employer that not sending you to LavaCon, will cost your company money in lost opportunities.

LavaVirtualCon

Last year, LavaCon provided a Virtual Track which was a live feed that broadcasted a total of 20 sessions, which included breakout sessions and keynote speakers. Adobe, LavaCon’s Platinum Sponsor, will stream and record all sessions for the first time. All keynote and special breakout sessions will stream video as well.

If you are unable to attend in person, consider attending online. With live streaming, professionals don’t have to miss out on the valuable information that will be shared. In addition, companies can purchase a license to the virtual track and fill a conference room with colleagues to attend.

Returning Professionals

Content professionals return year after year to gain new and valuable information about content strategy. Attendees take industry-tried-and-tested information back to the workplace and apply it directly. And many returnees find that they’ve become mindful about content strategy as the bigger picture of many moving parts in the organization. At the very least, they take content strategy into consideration when working with current and new content, rather than resorting to creating stuff that may need to be rewritten or modified for later use.

Lastly, with a Jazz Club tweet up and pub crawl on the agenda along with a few surprises, Jack says that this is the year you should attend LavaCon. “See you in New Orleans!”

Hear Jack Molisani on LavaCon 2015 in our TechWhirl Fast 5.

Roger is relatively new to the technical communication field; however, he works extremely hard to network and develop professional relationships among colleagues. He also posts articles regarding technical communication on his blog at WriteTechie.com. If you are interested in hiring Roger, feel free to view his resume on LinkedIn.

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