Spring Conferences Galore!

Busy month ahead, with much to say and much to learn. This time of year is usually when I can go to professional conferences, but I seem much more involved with organizing them this year. In particular, I’m talking about (and at, truth be told) these two, separated by just two weeks!

Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday, May 19: WriteCamp Milwaukee 4

This “traditional un-conference” (if there can be such a thing) is for everyone who writes: Fiction, nonfiction, with multiple books and/or bylines or just a blog or a novel cooking in the word processor that no one’s ever seen. No matter what sort of writing project you’re interested in doing, there’s a place for you at WriteCamp.

What’s traditional about this un-conference? Well, the biggest thing is that there’s no set schedule. You’ll come in to the Hide House in beautiful Bay View, in the southeast corner of Milwaukee and encounter a blank wall with time slots and rooms demarcated with tape. Want to lead a session about something? Take a Post-It note and slap the topic in one of the blank slots. You’re in! Of course, some of us have posted some ideas for sessions on the website already. You can add some there too. There are no guarantees that any of them will be presented–but if you post a comment on the ones you want to see, the people with the idea will be impressed (believe me!).

I have learned more than a little at previous WriteCamps, mostly about social media and freelance practices. I’ve led sessions on the future of journalism and held WordPress clinics. This year, I’m planning sessions on getting into technical communication and “WordPress for Writers.”

The other traditionally unconference-y thing that WriteCamp Milwaukee adheres to is that it is free to attend (though if you’re in Milwaukee tonight, April 26, check out the comedy benefit at Stonefly Brewery!), and you get lunch, a mid-day poetry slam demonstration, and a tote bag with assorted goodies besides the education.

WordCamp Milwaukee 2012

Things are really heating up for the first ever WordCamp in Milwaukee, set for the first weekend in June, and that’s terrific!

We have a spectacular lineup of speakers  for both the User track and the Developer track. These WordPress gurus are mostly from the Greater Milwaukee area and from that city of big shoulders a little south of here. You even get two authors of WordPress books: I’ll be the one standing in Lisa Sabin-Wilson‘s shadow.

What am I talking about? All about the amount of help any WordPress user can get just by kicking around the WordPress.com and WordPress.org sites.

There’s an un-conference track, where people will be running informal sessions on topics yet to be determined (and yes, you can get in on that too). And we’re working hard to staff the Happiness Bar for the full conference. This is where users and developers can get answers to their particular problems.

We’re working on some fun stuff too, but it’s not ready to unveil yet.

Unlike WriteCamp, WordCamp Milwaukee costs, though not much (just $20). Buy your ticket before May Day to guarantee your commemorative t-shirt.

All this activity is forcing me to miss the annual Technical Communication Summit sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication in Rosemont, Illinois. But you can follow news from the summit via my pals at TechWhirl.com.

Hope to see you at one of these swell gigs!

Conference Season 2011

Spring is here and it’s time to get educated. Yes, I suspect that a lot of you reading this are still in school, and aching for the days when you won’t be sitting in a room being educated. Tragically, I have to tell you that once you get out in the Real World, you really begin to relish the few chances to get together with colleagues, perhaps in a strange city, and learn new things. That’s what I’m doing now.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be attending (or keeping watch on) these great events. For most of these, you’re more than welcome to join me:

Society for Technical Communication Summit
Dates: May 15-18, 2011
Location: Sacramento, CA Convention Center
URL: http://summit.stc.org/
Twitter Hashtag: #stc11

This is the annual conference of my professional organization, and my employer is sending me so I can be a better tech writer. As a bonus, I get to see possibly the most famous technical communicator in the world. Tim O’Reilly is our keynoter Sunday night, and while you may know him as the god of technical publishing, I just learned from this interview at South By Southwest that the publishing business started during a slack time in his tech writing consultant business. There’s much more of interest in that hour-long podcast, but I’m really looking forward to hearing him.

This will be my second STC conference, and the last one was quite useful. I’m confident it’ll be another good experience.

WriteCamp Milwaukee 3
Date: June 4, 2011
Location: Hide House, Milwaukee, WI
URL: http://www.writecampmilwaukee.com
Hashtag: #writecamp

This local gathering/unconference of writers of all genres is a great opportunity to break out of the isolation of the Writer’s Life, see what other people are doing, and learn something new. It’s the brainchild of my friend Boone Dryden.

I’ve proposed two WordPress-related sessions. I’ll give one or both, depending on interest.

In any case, it should be great fun and always interesting.

Open Help Conference
Date: June 3-5, 2011
Location: University of Cincinnati, OH
URL: http://openhelpconference.com/index.html
Hashtag: ??

I wish I could get out of town to attend this gathering of documentation teams for various open source products, but I’ll try to follow this online.

Folks from Ubuntu Linux, the GNOME project, FLOSS Manuals (I’ve also written about my experiences with FLOSS Manuals here) and Mozilla will be there. One of my favorite tech-book authors, Anne Gentle, will also be talking about community building.

WordCamp Chicago
Date: July 30-31, 2011
Location: DePaul University, Chicago, IL
URL: http://2011.chicago.wordcamp.org/
Hashtag: #WCChicago

One of a zillion WordCamps that happen every year, where people spend a weekend talking about WordPress. Someday we want to have one in Milwaukee, but this isn’t too far away. They’re pulling together a program as we speak, and nobody knows yet who will appear. I’m hoping it’ll be great!

Meanwhile, the second Milwaukee WordPress Meetup is in the works, for sometime in June. More info to come on that!

So whether you can make any of the above events (and I’d love to see you), do try to find like minds this spring and summer, and don’t put your brain entirely on hold.

Do you have a favorite conference? Hate one or more of the above events? A preference for one or another WriteCamp session? Other spring-like thoughts? Share them in the Comments window.

Six Days Till WriteCamp2 in Milwaukee!

Hey folks, there’s still time to make plans to attend WriteCamp2 in Milwaukee next weekend! This camp is for you if your interests lie toward the written (or typed) word. Bloggers, poets, journalists, business and technical writers, fiction and nonfiction writers – we want to see you! Any other writers, and would-be writers I left out – yes, you too!

You can read about what I’m doing at WriteCamp at my other site. In brief, I’ll be leading a discussion about the future of American journalism, and doing something related to WordPress. I’ll have copies of WordPress in Depth on hand, and a pen to sign them with. I’ll also be at the pre-party Friday night, having some fun.

But WriteCamp is not entirely about the published and famous laying out the One True Path to publishing fame, because there isn’t any such thing. WriteCamp is about every participant sharing their passion and knowledge about whatever writing-related topic strikes them.

Hope to see you in my hometown!