Lavacon 2010

Lavacon 2010 presentation and impressions from a first-time attendee

This morning we presented on “Discovering the Hidden Treasure in your Product Information” at Lavacon 2010. It’s still in progress as this post is being written. It’s been an interesting conference thus far.

This is the first time we’ve attended Lavacon, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. Lavacon is “The Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies.” With a theme like “Content Strategy,” a term that is near and dear to us because it’s something we constantly talk about, we decided to add Lavacon to our conference attendance schedule this year. We presented and exhibited.

We talk a lot about Content Strategy because there is a lot of misconception about what this term means. In her keynote this morning, Rahel Bailie said one thing that kind of stuck out: “Web content strategist is meaningless. Web is a delivery channel.”

Her statement really summed up the kinds of conversations I had. I either heard “ArborText, YES!” (or some variant of “I know all about dynamic publishing and technical documentation”) or I heard “What?”

But then it was a kind of mixed event. Most of the presentations were on social media–how to use it, where to go, how to engage, what the ROI is, and how to define, capture, and measure that ROI–or they were on topics of interest to technical communicators–using Agile processes in documentation teams, understanding metadata. There were a lot of really good presentations. If you’re thinking about content strategy this is definitely a good place to get ideas and become inspired.

It was a really good event. There are a lot of people trying a lot of different things and coming at the idea of content strategy from a lot of different perspectives. People are really struggling to really understand exactly what “content” means from an organizational perspective and why content creation groups (TechPubs, Marketing) should be thought of as strategic business partners.

Essentially, that’s the crux of the presentation that we gave.

The slides have been posted to the abstract page and the transcript of the talk will be available to members on the membership site shortly. We’ll do the best we can, but, you know how it is: a lot of color commentary comes out when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about.

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CPR For Your Product Information

In an unstructured authoring environment, product information is created without constancy in construction. The process leaves you with information that has no reliability in form, no reusability of information, and degrades the overall productivity in delivering content to the end user.

  • No steady pulse of information being generated in the same manner by all content creators. Because there is no set standard, anyone creating information can do so in their own style. It’s too hard to get formatting right across the entire organization—No Consistency
  • Clogged arteries of information begin to back up and choke off throughput. You can’t get the product information written up fast enough because you need to spend too much time formatting. Too much time spent on low-value tasks—Low Productivity
  • Flat lined content that you can’t do anything with. Your information is locked into serving only one purpose at a time and output to only one presentation style. Content is tied to one use and one output form—Little Reusability

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