Preparing for Write the Docs PDX 2019

2 minute read

The annual Write the Docs PDX conference begins this Sunday. I’m beyond excited!

It’s my first time attending. A year ago, I didn’t even know WTD existed! Since discovering this amazing tech writer/documentarian community, I’ve joined the Slack channel and convinced my company to pay for my ticket.

I’m ready. A little anxious, but eager. I’ll do my best to absorb every talk, but I admit right now I’m a pretty average networker. Over the years, my shyness has gotten the best of me. But I’m getting better, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to grow my career and join the larger community.

So. What am I so excited about? Here’s my selection of must-see conference presentations:

  • How I learned to stop worrying and love the command line by Mike Jang
    • WHY: I first used iTerm on macOS and Command Prompt on Windows like, um, ~8 months ago. I still have a lot to learn.
  • How to edit other people’s content without pissing them off by Ingrid Towey
    • WHY: I switched teams at work last fall and went from the sole documentarian to joining a group of seven (!) amazing colleagues. As part of an editorial subgroup, I’ve put on an editor’s hat not worn since my journalism days. There’s always room for additional best practices to professionally, and gracefully, deliver feedback.
  • Just add data: Make it easier to prioritize your documentation by Sarah Moir
    • WHY: At Smarsh, technical documentation hasn’t been a data-driven pursuit. That’s OK: a lot of doc teams don’t capture data. My manager and I want to change that. I’m already working on a relaunch of our analytics this quarter, so this talk is relevant.
  • Show me the money: How to get your docs the love and support they deserve by Matt Reiner
    • WHY: Any technical writer knows the pain of advocating for your work and yourself. Every company I’ve worked for, until Smarsh, deprioritized the value of good documentation. Even well-resourced documentation roles always need more. I have to learn more about bolstering support for docs. Did someone say “ROI?”
  • Product documentation strategy: What is it and why do we need it? by Kay Miles
    • WHY: Content strategy, like analytics, is another nebulous topic. Many documentarians have struggled with awful, siloed content in complete disarray. It feels overwhelming to even start thinking about strategy. Strategic content planning is another work project, so this talk piqued my interest.

These talks highlight myriad challenges I’ve faced both in and outside of Smarsh. I’m also looking forward to every talk I didn’t list. Check out the full schedule if you’re interested.

If you can’t attend, don’t fret. WTD streams the conference, which is so wonderful if you missed ticket sales or your expense was denied.

Look for my retrospective/postmortem sometime after the conference wraps Tuesday.