STC Summit 2008: Mixed reviews

Tom Johnson has written his assessment of the STC Summit in Philadelphia. You can also check out Ben Minson’s take on the conference as a first-time attendee. And for yet another overview as well as great notes from some of the sessions, see Anne Gentle’s blog.

Here are some of my impressions:

Good stuff

The social networking and live blogging was fun despite the low participation. Made some new friends, joined in the live blogging, and finally grokked Twitter. 

Met Rahul Prabhakar face-to-face after reading his blog for several years. Rahul is an Indian writer who lives and works in Seoul. Also met Mayur Polepalli, another Indian tech comm professional who lives in Taipei. Rahul, Mayur, and Francisco (an Oracle manager in California with a workforce in India) accepted the STC’s Chapter of Distinction award for the India chapter.

Atlanta won a Chapter of Excellence for the second year in a row, and Mike Hughes assumed his 2nd VP post. We had fun hootin’ and hollerin’ for Mike when he accepted his Fellow award at the banquet. His wife attended and helped staff our booth promoting the conference in Atlanta next year. I was also happy to see Dr. Davis from Mercer U become a Fellow. 

We had good participation from our chapter leadership, which helps us form a cohesive team for the coming year. Also, several students from Atlanta were able to attend including Tianyue, Yina, Lina, Ruidi, and Keisha. 

On Tuesday I made a mad dash to the Philly Art Museum and ran up the steps just like Rocky Balboa. Then I sprinted through ten centuries of European and Asian art in about 90 minutes. Nice break from sitting in the sessions. Enormous bouquets in the main stairway for Anne d’Harnoncourt, the director of the museum who died on June 1. 

Enjoyed these sessions:
Scott Abel’s “10 Ways to Increase Your Productivity”
Jack Molisani’s panel on “If I Knew Then, What I Know Now”
Tom’s podcasting talk 

As a tech comm generalist, I enjoyed the wide range of topics from vendor showcases, professional development, instructional design, management, and technical discussions. 

Danced and sang and acted silly at the Open Jam. Although someone had her wallet stolen during that event, which brings me to . . .

The not so good stuff

I should have flown in on Friday night and devoted a day to sightseeing in Philly. Jeffrey Shoap, a Philly native, gave me a laundry list of places to see and things to eat, and I didn’t do any of it. Didn’t get to the Rodin museum. Didn’t eat a Philly cheesesteak. Didn’t see the Bell. And no, Jeffrey, I didn’t visit your mother either.  

Leadership Day was too long. Last year we broke up into smaller groups where you had a chance to mix it up. I learned the most from the informal discussions I had during the breaks. 

The keynote was disappointing. Howard Rheingold presented Web 2.0 to us as if it was 2004. Then when he got to the interesting part about current research, he’d run out of time and had to rush through his slides. On the other hand, several other people I spoke with had a completely different take on his keynote, so it just goes to show you.  

The featured presenters should be allowed more than one hour to allow for more audience discussion, which is where some of the best learning takes place.

After so much talk about “death by PowerPoint” it is dismaying how many presenters still cling to the bulleted slide format. 

Some of the sessions I hoped would help me the most, did not come through for me. For example, Saul Carliner’s session on Business Models for Tech Pubs Departments was a surprisingly dry academic research presentation. An additional hour for questions might have made it more lively. Jane Bozarth’s and Susan Boyd’s sessions were OK, but it was mostly stuff I’d already read or knew from my own experience. 

Or maybe I just went to the wrong sessions this year . . .

Looking ahead

Next year’s Summit will be here in Atlanta and I’ll be there. I hope we can make it a great event.

Tom had a great idea about appointing a social activities director to hook people up for events in the evenings. I bet we could get some volunteers from the Atlanta chapter to help out with that one. 









4 Responses to STC Summit 2008: Mixed reviews

  1. Ben says:

    I didn’t end up eating a Philly cheesesteak, either. Tom was told in no uncertain terms by a sandwich-maker in the Reading Terminal Market that you don’t ask for a Philly cheesesteak there because it blatantly marks you as a tourist. We found out from someone else that since you’re in Philly already, it’s just a cheesesteak.

    I agree that having time for audience interaction with the keynote speaker would have added to it. He does end up looking like something of a philosopher unless you can get more out of him about the current trends in tech comm.

  2. Namaste!

    Glad to see that you made it safely home. Hope the trip wasn’t too exhausting!

    It was a pleasure meeting you at the STC Summit in Philly. Hope we’ll be able to keep up our conversation over this long distance!


    Rahul Prabhakar
    Owner and Moderator of TWI,

  3. STC Summit 2008: Mixed reviews « Don’t Call Me Tina…

    Holly Harkness writes her review of the stc conference — the highlights, the good and bad, Philadelphia, and more. It’s always interesting to read someone’s overall conference experience, especially when you attended the same conference….

  4. Karen says:

    It was great meeting you, Holly. I look forward to the Atlanta Experience next year. 🙂 I am just now downloading the handouts that I want. Some had links that brought me here. Makes me realize I really should write up my own experience. Soon!

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