Saturday, September 29, 2007

Goa Calling: Why ?

As providence would have it, I have been selected to present my proposal at the Annual STC Conference, Goa 2007.. My joy grew no bounds when I found my name listed along with the who's who from the companies like BEA Systems, HP, Honeywell, Oracle, Cadence and others. The incidence that the conference is in Goa this year, generated a lot of interest and attracted a lot of proposals. But finally, the committee handpicked only 15 proposals after a series of brainstorming sessions and consultations. A sneak preview of the gamut of speakers from the industry this year:

Creating Readers by Capturing and Delivering Documentation in Question and Answer Format by Nandini Gupta - Cadence Design Systems
A question, by definition, is a request for information. Throughout the development lifecycle of a product, requests for information about the product come from various stakeholders. In this presentation, Nandini Gupta argues that if technical communicators capture these questions, find their answers, and deliver the information in a framework that supports classification and searchability, the resultant information can be used effectively not only to learn the product, but also to evangelize, understand user needs, sell, train, and troubleshoot.

Demystifying Localization by S. Ravi Kumar - Sun Microsystems
Always wanted to know the nuanced differences between seemingly similar-meaning localization terms such as translation, globalization, internationalization, and glocalization? S. Ravi Kumar of Sun Microsystems has all the answers. In this presentation, he will introduce participants to, among other things, the basic aspects of localization, the entire localization lifecycle, and the tools and technologies used by the localization industry.

Documentation Tools for Technical Writing 2.0 by Suraj Jayan - Hewlett-Packard
You've heard about Web 2.0 and the revolution that it heralds. Now, does technical writing need to change its version number in order to keep up with the changing environment? Find out more at Suraj Jayan's presentation, where he holds forth on what Wiki-based documentation means for technical writers, and what technical writing 2.0 means for the field of technical communication.

E-learning through gaming by Surag Ramachandran - Honeywell
Elearning provides for a quicker and more cost-effective method of delivering learning content to various audiences. However, a lot of e-learning content suffers from the fact that it lacks interactivity and hence cannot provide an engaging user experience. Users are, therefore, not motivated. The usage of games in learning material, specifically e-learning material, is increasingly gaining popularity as a means to engage users in the learning process. In this presentation, Surag Ramachandran discusses the benefits of adopting such an approach.

From Good to Great: What it Takes to be a Great Tech Pubs Manager by Dr. Denise Kiser - Vmware
In this session, Dr. Denise Kiser describes the role of a technical publications manager - a unique combination of counselor, project manager, trouble-shooter, and innovator. She then discusses how individual contributors can convince management that they are ready for this role, and how they can succeed in this role. She lists the key skills that a successful manager must have and provides practical tips on how to attain those skills. For example, as a manager, you must hire the best people. How can you tell in a brief interview whether you are interviewing a winner? Your success as a manager will depend on this judgment call! Another important task is to estimate resources and plan for projects when you don't have the time to research the projects yourself. How do you put a high-performing team together? What do you do when a team member appears to be sabotaging the efforts of the team? In this session, Denise covers these and other issues that managers encounter on a daily basis.

If you agree, click "No!" by Suman Kumar - Dell
Contingency design does not figure much in conversations amongst technical communicators. In these conversations, the emphasis is usually on the almighty manual. However, oftentimes, customers read error messages before they even think of opening a product's manual. In this presentation, Suman Kumar introduces the key area of contingency design and answers questions like 'How do we design for contingencies?', 'Can you use error messages to boost customer experience and loyalty?', and 'How does effective contingency design help in reducing support costs?'

Makeover of Information Management Systems - DITA Migration Strategy by Jyothi Jandhyala - BEA Systems
More and more companies are, increasingly, moving from just using traditional authoring tools like FrameMaker towards incorporating XML-based content standards like DITA. However, moving to DITA is not just about finding the right tools that are DITA-capable; it is also about reorienting the whole process of how information is authored and delivered. In this presentation, Jyothi focuses what organizations need to keep into mind when deciding on tools, delivery mechanisms and support systems for their XML-based authoring and publishing systems. She maintains that the key to a successful information management makeover is having the right strategy when migrating from legacy systems to a DITA-capable system.

Strategies for Succeeding in a Global Documentation Team by Francisco Abedrabbo - Oracle
Centralized documentation teams are becoming a thing of the past. U.S.-based documentation teams must now work with teams from around the world. Working in a global documentation team raises a special set of challenges in areas such as hiring, training, planning, coping with time zone and cultural differences, and coordinating distributed documentation work. In this interactive session, Francisco provides an overview of how to be an active and successful member of a global documentation team. He presents some real-world insights and tips on what U.S. writers and managers are looking for when working with their global counterparts.

Test plans as a source of improving documentation quality by Rachna Ganguli and Shilpa Sharma - Cadence Design Systems
Product validation or testing is a critical phase in the development cycle of a product. Typically, testing involves using real-world scenarios and a set of related criteria to ensure that the product conforms to requirements. These scenarios and criteria are documented in a test plan. Writers commonly use R&D-generated documents, such as functional specifications; however, the use of test cases in a test plan is often neglected. In this presentation, Rachna and Shilpa describe how writers can leverage a well-structured and comprehensive test plan to enhance product documentation.

The business management lessons I learnt from my gardening hobby by Makarand Pandit - Technowrites
In his book, "The High Performance Entrepreneur", Subrato Bagchi writes, "Building a company is not about planting a giant tree. It is about creating an entire forest someday." This quote got Makarand Pandit thinking on how nature, and his own gardening hobby, had more in common with business management than he knew. In this intriguing presentation, he describes all the various aspects of gardening, and draws parallels from gardening to real-life business management situations.

The Truth About Blogging by Dr. Manjula Kandula - Sun Microsystems
In an era where the Internet has clearly reached the participation age, technology has allowed for users to become increasingly innovative in communicating with the rest of the online world. From writing on deadwood to communicating online, humans have come a long way in making their voices heard. Online communication itself has evolved rapidly in the short span of time since it made its debut about a decade ago. And today, blogs are widely popular as online communication tools that enable making the personal public. But if you want your blog to do more for you, what do you need to do? From being a fun tool for sharing information with your peers, how can it also double up as a powerful marketing tool? What's hot in the jargon-world of Blogger's Park? Dr. Manjula Kandula tells all in this interactive presentation.

Traveling Without Moving - Working in Global Teams by Melanie Doulton Bedi - BMC
Most of us work in geographically dispersed, multicultural teams today. Virtual, global teams require us to use our communication skills in ways that were unimaginable 20 years ago. In this presentation, Melanie Doulton Bedi discusses ways to build successful working relationships in a virtual environment. She also uses case studies from a survey of Indian professionals who work in virtual teams to discuss how working in global teams can involve extensive travel - without leaving your desk.

Usability Evaluation of Help by Anupama Gummaraju, Jayalakshmi Munjuluri, and Amit Bhatia - Infosys
Usability is a critical success factor for any product that users interface with. Increasingly, in the IT world, usability is being planned for, and designed and evaluated by specialized usability and user experience practitioners. In this presentation, the presenters explore how conventional usability principles can be applied to documentation (user assistance) as well, and what benefits such an application can provide. In this presentation, the presenters use their firm as a case study to practically illustrate how user assistance can be made to conform to usability principles. They also discuss how improvised Heuristic Evaluation (HE) techniques can be applied to extract benefits for writers and users of user assistance.

Working with the Community to Collaboratively Develop Content by Peter Fernandez - Sun Microsystems
Have you ever considered allowing a community of experienced subject matter experts, with a passion for writing, to define the outline and table of contents for your next document? Peter Fernandez is a proponent of exactly that. In this session, he uses his experiences at Sun Microsystems to advocate for such a radical change; he also discusses the various challenges and opportunities that accompany this collaborative content revolution.


Staring with this post, I intend to start a series of posts on Goa. I have been reading a book on Goa, The Reflected Water: Writings on Goa by Jerry Pinto. The book is an anthology on the history and social aspects of Goa. It throws insight into the deeper aspects of societies in Goa that is still finding itself in incongruence after lost its Portuguese identity.. I cannot help but share my thoughts as I am reading and later this month travelling to the place which has lot more to offer other than sun sand and sea.


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