TC Camp was great this year. It’s one of my favorite tech comm events, Liz (@lizfraley), Scott (@saprentice), and their crew does a great job every year. The subject matter is always topical, but still applicable, and the agenda favors conversation over lecture.

Here are a few highlights from this year:

The Bots are Coming!!

I attended the chatbot session Michael Lam gave. It was a fun perspective on Chatbot technology from outside of my bubble. Michael detailed how chatbots can be used to leverage higher rates of interaction and response from users on Facebook. His stat that really stood out was:

98%! That’s the open rate for SMS message as opposed to 23% for emails. Perhaps less impactful, but more relevant, 77% of Facebook messages get opened.

We ended this session by discussing chatbots from a more documentation-centric perspective. This included the benefit of starting with structured content (i.e. #DITA) when building a chatbot and how chatbots can be used to optimize content and find content gaps.

UX is a science

Daniel Rosenberg gave us a proper lecture on UX. He carefully outlined a theory that explains what makes for a good user experience and what doesn’t. I found his examination of human perception of different process times to be most interesting. If your application takes more than 2 seconds to perform a task, it might be too long. I’ll admit, some parts of easyDITA are guilty of this, but not for long… 😉

How to measure tech writers?

Our session on metrics was a lively discussion on how we measure the productivity of tech writers. I had a lot to say in this discussion. It just so happens that I’ve been working on a post that discusses how to measure the time of tech writers and how to use those measurements to drive a process of improvement. Look for that soon.

Markdown and DITA, together at last?

My favorite roundtable of the day was DITA vs Markdown. After discussing what each of them is and how “vs” doesn’t belong here, we came to the conclusion that Lightweight DITA could be the uniting force that gives us interoperability between DITA and Markdown. We discussed a process for bringing Markdown into a CCMS, using differencing to determine if it had changed, and using content referencing to reuse pieces of it. I’m going to write a post soon to talk more about how this can work.

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