Fit for the Future in Technical Communication

This year again, approximately 4,300 participants received current specialist knowledge at first hand. Besides the classic topics of technical communication, Intelligent Information and, in particular, the application of the newly developed standard iiRDS of the tekom Working Group on Information 4.0 were in focus at the tcworld conference on October 24-26.

tcworld conference 2017 in Stuttgart

Approximately 4,300 participants and visitors arrived at the tcworld conference and tekom fair 2017 at ICS Messe Stuttgart to learn about current and future issues on the topics of technical communication in over 250 presentations, workshops and tutorials and tool presentations. Participants were offered a varied social program with numerous opportunities for networking this year as well.
The presentations of the speakers are available for download here.

Industry Forums as a New Format at the tcworld conference

New this year were the industry forums "Learning Media" and "Service Information". Here, experts examined the interfaces between technical documentation and related specialist areas in several keynotes and brief presentations. 

In the industry forum "Learning Media", the connection between training and technical communication and the use of common information sources were on the agenda. The industry forum "Service Information", its motto "Intelligently informing service", discussed subjects around maintenance, remote servicing, service fieldwork and service documentation.

160 Exhibitors at tekom fair 2017

Besides the tcworld conference, the tekom fair, with 160 software manufacturers and service providers from around the world, was also a magnet for visitors. It offered specialists in technical communication, primarily technical editors from almost every industry sector, a unique opportunity to get a comprehensive overview of the market.

Parallel to the fair, industry organizations and professional associations from all over the world reported on the particularities of their markets at "Associations World". Visitors were able to discover the "Asian Pavilion", specially for businesses and organizations from Asia.

Keynotes of the Conference: On Decisions and Questions of Survival

Both keynotes on the first day of the tcworld conference provided a smooth entry into the varied program that was to follow: Former soccer league referee Knut Kircher spoke about decision-making in an entertaining and informative way, including game situations without a single use of slow-motion replay, which the audience was then asked to evaluate in a matter of seconds.

The English-language keynote, by contrast, dealt with questions of survival in technical communication. Saul Carliner, Professor at Concordia University in Montreal, explained the development of the occupation of technical communicator and, along with it, the role of further training and technological progress.

About Intelligent Information and iiRDS

Intelligent Information was a central topic at the conference. In this context, the Standard iiRDS - The International Standard for Intelligent Information Request and Delivery, developed by the tekom Working Group on Information 4.0, was introduced in presentations, panel discussions and tutorials. iiRDS offers a standardized option to label content with classifying metadata. With this semantic information, intelligent applications become possible in the setting of Industry 4.0. As part of a panel discussion, company representatives also showcased a prototypical implementation of the standard.  

In the context of Information 4.0, on the last day, experts discussed how technical communicators could master challenges now and in the future. What tools should technical communicators take up to gird themselves for the future? It was exciting to pose the question of which digital trends would really become part of daily work and which would not. 
The experts stressed that it was important to keep current on trends and modern technologies but, at the same time, not to jump on every new bandwagon labeled "new", "modern" or "intelligent". Only when the added value for the user is increased by change is it worth incorporating modern concepts such as "IoT", video documentation or 3D animations.

Take-Away Quotes:
  • "If you’re not having fun writing, the reader isn’t having fun reading." Dr. Lars Vollert
  • "Mind the gap between the need of end user and the company." Isabelle Fleury
  • "Users expect more app-like behavior from websites: There are now users who have gotten to know the Web from apps from the very beginning. They do not know the childhood diseases of the Web." Robert Krause
  • "Do the traditional things, but also look around you." Ralf Robers
  • "Not everything that is measurable is relevant. An individual interpretation of the results in the context of information and product types is important.” Prof. Wolfang Ziegler
  • "The things come and go. Don’t jump too quickly. Sometimes wait." Scott Prentice
  • "Every decision enriches you. Be brave." Knut Kircher

Further Development of Terminology Live at the tekom Term Hack

At the tekom Term Hack, led by Dr. Klaus-Dirk Schmitz, members of the tekom Working Group for the Terminology of Technical Communication live presented how terminology is successfully developed and coordinated. 
The audience, too, was allowed to participate and slip into the role of a terminologist, meanwhile evaluating designations as well as identifying homonyms and synonyms. Interested persons and tekom members had already been invited beforehand to submit their proposals for change or new proposals for technical communication terminology.
The tekom Working Group is committed to the standardization and simplication of terminology and has already developed a basic inventory of approximately 120 relevant terms in the area of technical communication. 

Technical Documentation Is Celebrated

On the first night, the tekom docu award ("tekom-Dokupreis") was presented as part of the Welcome Party. The docu award is an annually recurring event at which tekom members and non-members have their instructions for use and operation as well as multimedia applications tested by independent reviewers in a professional and time-tested procedure. This year, five submissions fulfilled the requirements for the distinction: three classic instructions in PDF format or on paper, as well as two multimedia applications. The winners can be found listed in the current press release (in German)

Participants in the conference also had, of course, many opportunities for networking and celebrating: On the second evening, the tekom All-Star Band provided the finest in live music, including the spontaneous contribution of a saxophonist. Sightseeing walks and a company tour were also included in the program. 

The Next tcworld conference?

The next tcworld conference will be held at ICS Messe Stuttgart again from November 13-15, 2018.