Food for thought on the 1st of November 2019

Rather than sharing two links on Twitter with very little commenting or curating, I thought I’d post them in a blog post. That gives me more space to comment on why I found them worthwhile. I hope your brain enjoys these munchies.

Did you know that fast-food products can contain a little extra for you? Read how Fast food increases exposure to a ‘forever chemical’ called PFAS. It’s not in the food. It’s in the packaging. But it gets into the food. Yuck. Who likes food wrapped in soggy papir or soggy cardboard, but do we really need to add a forever chemical to the packaging materials to avoid the soggy mess. Denmark is the first country to ban the use of PFAS in packaging.

Maps are one way indigenous people are becoming more visible. I liked reading How mapmakers help indigenous people defend their lands. A quote at the beginning of the article says it all (in my opinion): “As much as guns and warships, maps have been the weapons of imperialism”. This quote is attributed to the geographer J.B. Harley. The link for this quote in the article is broken, so I did a Google search to learn more about it. That search lead me to another interesting bit of information about the imperialism of maps. I found something rather interesting that relates to the first mapping article. Cornell University Library has an “Imperial Federation Map of the World“. The collector’s notes mention this quote, stating that Harley was “the intellectual leader of cartographic ‘deconstruction'”, and that Harley “used this map to illustrate the point!”. It also turns out that the map illustrator, Walter Crane, has a lot of hidden messages in his illustrations of this world map. Something that suited his socialist heart, but could well have shaken the heart of any imperialist who found the hidden messages! I will keep this article in mind when I finally get around to reading my copy of “On The Map” by Simon Garfield.

Happy birthday, little blog

Yesterday, this little blog turned 12. 12 years!! That was back in the day when people wrote more than 140 characters to share their thoughts. Back in the day when people were more civil, too!

I upgraded the site to the Twenty-Nineteen theme, which is awfully minimalist, but I will give it a try. I installed it “out of the box” and will search for some way to put a header on top later on. I was also motivated to upgrade because I believe it is another way to prevent any security leaks due to old code.

Will the minimalist theme get me writing more on the blog? We’ll see! Stay tuned!

Merry Christmas and Happy holidays!

Close-up of red and gold striped wrapping paper tied with thin, curled, red ribbon

Coming clean at the 2017 soap! conference in Krakow

I fell in love with soap in 2015. No, not that material you use for washing. The technical communication conference in Kraków, Poland, called soap! with the lower-case “s” and the exclamation mark.

Pink poster of the soap! conference with another small sign showing arrow pointing to the right

I returned for the 2017 soap! experience, which is what I want to share here. I am providing a summary of the conference design, some useful links for additional reading, and all my personal, rather raw notes from the talks. Those are shared “as is”. If you wonder what I meant by something, leave a comment!

I hope some of the information here will inspire you to consider joining the “soapy” community next year in Kraków.

Note: This is a very long post because it covers two days of info from a conference. I wrote it as a reference article for storing my notes.

Where can you find more information about the soap! conference?

The soap! team has a great video summary of the soap! 2017 conference. Watch it if you think this post is too long and too much to read, or watch it for inspiration for your first or next attempt at summarising an event with a nice video.

Other links are:

What is the structure of the soap! conference?

This conference is run by a dedicated group of volunteers and supported by some great sponsors and a registration fee. The conference ran for three days with the main conference on Thursday, 8 June, and Friday, 9 June. On Wednesday, 7 June, there was an all-day Edu Summit filled with workshops ranging from one hour to seven hours. The Edu Summit was only open to the main conference attendees. Topics ranged from DITA to UX to structured authoring.

On Thursday and Friday, the conference ran from 9.00 to 18.00. The doors opened half-an-hour before so attendees could grab a coffee and a bite to eat and say hi to the other attendees.

The location was perfect for this time of year. We used the conference room at the beautiful Manggha museum on the banks of the Vistula River, just across from the Wavel Royal Castle.

Entrance to Manggha Museum in Krakow, Poland on a sunny day with blue skies

The skies were blue and the weather was just right for all three days, with the clouds staying away until we all dispersed after the conference. Sitting on the terrace outside the Manggha café with that lovely view seemed to keep the conversations going non-stop.

This volunteer-run conference also included great evening events: bowling after the Edu Summit, a concert on the banks of the river at the end of Day 1, and a brew pub (T.E.A. Time) after the conference.

The conference always has a theme. This year’s theme was “problem solving”.

They solicited our thoughts for the theme for 2018. Four proposed themes were written up on a whiteboard, and we could vote for a theme with soap! stickers. “Artificial intelligence and content” won the popular vote. Now the committee will evaluate how to make that work as a theme for the 2018 edition of soap!.

What is so great about the soap! conference?

I have to quote one of the speakers, Oded Ilan, on this. He summed up my sentiments in the video summary of the conference.

I see so many young people engaged and interested in [this technical communication field]… That’s the most powerful thing I saw at this event. – Oded Ilan

Why is it called the soap! conference

I learned about the soap! name at the 2015 conference. Gosia Radymiak, head of the soap! team and conference, said it was a fun idea that came up in conversation. They called it “soap” to stand for strategy, opportunity, advancement, and professionalism. Think of it as a fresh, clean start, said Gosia. “It’s something we can relate to, something we ‘just gotta have’.” I think a lot of writers know many manuals that could use a good scrub to get a fresh, clean start! It’s a great analogy.

What was the biggest takeaway from the soap! conference?

It’s all about people and communicating with people. Talk to people. Learn from people. Those people can be those using your products or services and they can be those you work with every day. They can be those you work for or those who work for you.

The talks – my notes and the videos

The remainder of this blog post is a list of all the talks in the order that they were presented along with a link to the video of their presentation and whatever (raw) notes I took.

Continue reading “Coming clean at the 2017 soap! conference in Krakow”