Re: Write The Docs Portland, 2022

The Write The Docs Conference was an amazing experience. The virtual conference had different multimedia spaces meant to mimic physical areas in an in-person conference. For example, the “Stage” was where the main presentations would be held. In the Stage, the presenter would be the only one on video with presentation in tow, and attendees could ask questions and interact through chat. “Tables” were spaces for the Unconference. The Unconference was for informal, smaller discussions. Although there was a moderator on video to lead the discussion, others can participate through chat, video, and/or audio. This allowed for more in-depth conversations about the moderator’s topic. Attendees could leave at whatever point they’d like. “Hallways” were for off-topic or general conversations. For example, it became a place for people to chat during early hours starting at 8am PDT, when the conference opened its doors. People could come in early (or whichever time of day it was in their respective time zones) and chat before the morning Stage presentation started. Hallways were also spaces to expand on topics sparked from other sessions, to further discuss without taking away from ongoing Session or Unconference chats. “Lightning Talks” were brief, yet fun, opportunities for interested speakers to present their topics for 5 minutes each.

There was the Monday Night social for those that wanted to network and share ideas after the conference.

Tuesday had the job fair in the morning, running in junction with the Stage and Unconference Sessions. Much like in-person job expos, it was an opportunity to explore job opportunities and perhaps have in-depth conversations with the recruiter and/or employees to share ideas and discuss processes beyond just talking about the job.

There were a lot of good Sessions that ended up overlapping, so I’m sad that I missed some. But luckily, Write The Docs will have the main Stage presentations available a week after the conference.

After attending some of the Unconference sessions, I got great insight on topics I wanted more information on, namely the technical writing career. There were discussions on the job hunting experience and different career pathways for documentarians.

Lightning Talks were awesome! I saw presentations on spirituality, respecting native land, and empathy.

Although the conference had ended, the Unconference continued throughout the afternoon of the last day. I chose to end my experience with an Unconference Session of attendees showing off their pets. It was perfect.

There were some ongoing issues with the UI.

  • People often confused the Main Chat with the Sessions Chat. This led to messages meant for the Stage Session presentation to be broadcasted to the Main Chat meant for all attendees, not just those viewing the Session.
  • The Agenda feature, which allowed you to put together your agenda for each day, did not include Unconference Sessions or Lightning Talks. Topics for Unconference and Lighting Talks had to be submitted and approved on the day of, so it is understandable that the Agenda could not be updated accordingly. It got awkward switching between the Schedule page on the WTD website, the Unconference schedule, and scrolling up chat to see what’s going on for Lightning Talks. I ended up putting together my own schedule externally.
  • The Welcome Wagon noted in their tour that if you are viewing the Stage presentation, if you click the ‘View Schedule’ button on your Agenda tab, you get kicked out of the Stage presentation entirely.

I was so impressed by the level of empathy exemplified throughout different aspects of the conference. It’s given me the feeling that ‘I’ve found my people.’ It was also a great opportunity to find out about WTD meetups and more conferences upcoming from around the world.

Overall, I enjoyed the virtual format of this conference and enjoyed the experience at my own pace. I learned a lot and reaffirmed my interest in the Technical Writing career.

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