Unlocking Hidden Levels

Who doesn’t love a secret passageway? The thrill of gaining access to concealed corridors is found in so many childhood tales, from Narnia’s Wardrobe to Hogwart’s train station. Even children’s video games contain mysterious keys that unlock hidden levels. I remember playing Mario Bros against a knowledgeable opponent, who repeatedly snuck on to mystery levels and cleaned my clock, feasting on secret stashes of coins.

Courtesy of Nintendo Systems.

Last week, as I followed a Technical Writing conference in New Zealand from my office in Florida, I realized that I had “unlocked a hidden level”. Thanks to the generousity of Sarah Maddox, I had gained passage into a place that was heretofore unavailable. I could learn from the keynote speakers from thousands of miles away.

I want to share that access with others. In a few weeks, I’m headed to LavaCon 2.0: The Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies. Conferences come and go. But I truly believe LavaCon 2010 will be a pivotal event in the history of the technical communications profession. If you’ve read my writing, you know I believe us to be at a crossroads. As a result, I believe that powerful decisions will be made at this conference by vendors, customers and thought-leaders. I believe these decisions will shape large portions of the future. I believe you will want to be there. So if you have travel budget left for Q3 2010, there is still time to get yourself to San Diego. I strongly encourage it.

If you simply can’t make it, I want to help unlock hidden levels for you. I want to write about what I learn and bring it to you, the same way Sarah has done so for me. To that end, please look over the program schedule and let me know, in the blog comments, which session(s) you would most like to see live blogged.

14 Responses to “Unlocking Hidden Levels”

  1. Thanks very much for offering to do this, Tristan. I hate having to miss LavaCon this year…it has such an incredible lineup of sessions, it’s hard to choose. I would be interested in any session(s) addressing topic-based authoring, providing documentation on mobile devices, and the move to digital content. However, I’d be happy to hear commentary on any sessions you choose to attend and blog about. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Tristan,

    I hate that I’m missing Lavacon also. There’s plenty of sessions I’d like to see, but if I’m forced to choose, I would like to hear about intelligent content, Agile and content development, content strategy, and single-sourcing (especially how it relates to mobile devices). Thanks.

  3. What a great program! Any and all of the sessions would be valuable. But two that stand out for me are “Intelligent Content” (Ann Rockley) and “Planning, Estimating, and Managing Documentation Projects in Agile” (Tim Bombosch).

    Thanks for being my eyes and ears for LavaCon, Tristan.

  4. Hi Tristan,

    What a great offer, in the spirit of all that is the social web…

    I won’t be able to make LavaCon 2.0 this year, but I’ll be following all your subsequent posts, very carefully.

    It’s hard to choose, from so many great sessions, but are here are a few that caught my eye:

    Intelligent Content: The Magic Behind the Curtain http://bit.ly/b2yfQr

    Planning, Estimating, and Managing Documentation Projects in an Agile Environment http://bit.ly/aElwEA

    Creating a Content Strategy http://bit.ly/aUesuP

    Why Content Strategist are the Next Corporate Rock Stars http://bit.ly/a44ZuJ

    I had to stop there, because it was like eye-candy…Every session looks of value and my list would be too long.

    Thanks, too, for raising awareness, about this valuable conference.


    Techniques, Strategies and Best Practices when Designing Content for Mobile Devices http://bit.ly/axFgiy

    • I’m right there with you, Peg. Every session will be valuable. The trick for me will be deciding where to be when the track portions begin and four sessions are happening simultaneously. Thanks for your input. Intelligent Content is a must, and Agile continues to get votes.

  5. Tristan,

    Thanks so much!

    With all the flash and flare of Social Media – it’s so important to remember that the underlying content foundations must be there. I’d appreciate you blogging on this session:

    OMG, It Moves! There is Media-Rich Interactive Content in Your Future

    From your main Google Buzz friend… ;0)

  6. Tristan, I so wish I could attend because you’re right – this IS the conference to hit. I appreciate your willingness to share your experiences with those of us who must sit on the sidelines.

    Here are the ones I found compelling:

    Intelligent Content
    Is Print Dead?
    Planning, Estimating and Managing Documentation
    Socially-Enabled Everything
    Dynamic Product Info
    Single Sourcing to the Max

    I loved your video game analogy and thought it really hit the mark. Unlocking hidden levels is EXACTLY what we’re trying to do with these various social tools. I also agree with your point – our industry is at a crossroads, which is why I included the Is Print Dead session on my list (I believe it is).

    Looking forward to getting schooled!

    • Thanks so much, Patty. I too feel print is over, even more so than I did before the Kindle and iPad, but there are many who disagree. It will be interesting to hear all perspectives. I’m going to live-tweet most of the sessions on your list and will live-blog some of them too. I appreciate your guidance, here!

  7. Hallo Tristan

    What a lovely post! Thank you so much for linking to my blog. I’m 100% with you, when you say how awesome it is that we can all learn from afar. I can’t make it to LavaCon 2.0, and I’d love to hear more about it via you. In particular, these topics intrigue me:
    “Intelligent Content: The Magic Behind the Curtain” (I heard Ann speak at TCANZ 2010 — she’s great) and “10 Tips towards Minimalism”.

    The third one I’d like to hear about is “Using SharePoint as a CMS” — just because it’s such a huge topic.

    Have a great time at the conference!

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