What can I say? Some of the best friendships start as chance meetings. Some of the best works or best ideas come about from the least effort. And so it was at this weekend’s SpeedCon 2014; I so thoroughly enjoyed myself with new people in a radically new place and feel as if new ideas and new friendships have formed. In typical (or should I say atypical) style, the ‘unconference on communication’ gave us an opportunity to leave behind the ordinary and experience a fantastic way to look at communication from the inside out.
From arriving at the James Hunt Library, you feel you are on the set of the latest Star Trek movie about to enter the Starship Academy. The inside of the building is new and clean, and you sense you are stepping with one foot into the future with all the latest digital technology so readily available throughout the building. But despite the presence of smart walls and surround screens, most sessions dealt with more personal aspects of human communication that we encounter both in our workplace and in our personal lives.
Sarah Egan Warren did a great job hosting the conference and Jen Riehle was the silent partner, keeping everything going like clockwork. Timely Text and STC Carolina Chapter did a great service in sponsoring the lunch and desert, respectively. It would have been great to have seen more STC-ers there. Progress Software also helped in sponsoring the event. The topics of talks ranged from MOOCs to infographics to GitHub with a little DITA and crisis communication thrown in. My favorite talk was about video planning – Ashley Hardin from NetApp did a great job presenting some real-world challenges to providing technical content in video form for consumers of the content both internal to her organization and external to it. Of course, Dr. David Kroll’s brief run-through of his fascination with science communication with the public gave me plenty to think about. Ms. Warren’s “moving” talk on Pecha Kucha was both fun and thought provoking. Here she is in action:
One of the highlights was the tour of the library, the facility where the event was held. The tour guide who introduced us to the ‘book bot’ and explained so many of the resources available at this library made me wish I had asked her name. She was able to explain so much, almost in story form, and all from memory, while walking with up through the four floors and out on to a balcony before returning to our sessions. She was a wonder of communication in her own right. So many times that day, I asked myself “How can we ever understand all the dimensions of human communication?”