Recapping SpeedCon 2016

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What happens when you bring together technical communicators—faculty and professionals, bloggers, technology enthusiasts, humanists, usability expert and students—and get them talking? That was the question that SpeedCon sought to answer on a Saturday morning, Oct. 22 at the North Carolina State University campus.

The theme for this year’s unconference was the “Future of Global Technical Communication”. Several participants from different strands of the M.S. Technical Communication program presented their views on Technical Communication and relevant topics from the industry and outside. The event started with Dr. Huiling Ding’s keynote speech on her experience with global communication. She identified several initiatives that academia and NC State in particular are taking to advance intercultural communication. Her speech served as a perfect start to stir up interest about global technical communication among the attendees. To strengthen this global perspective further, Nupoor Jalindre, a student in the MSTC department,  painted a picture about the professional and cultural state of affairs of technical communication in India.

What made this an unconference, in the real sense, was the agenda, built up from the impromptu pitches given by attendees at the beginning of the day. Presenters, across disciplines, pitched ideas that they wanted to present. The organizers and volunteers quickly put together a schedule, based upon classifying all the topics based on genre, and they came up with the schedule, which was instantly published on the official SpeedCon website. All talks were categorized into sessions and workshops which took place in parallel, so that attendees could decide which ones they wanted to attend to get the most out of the event.

Demonstrations: Some demos included a session by Baker Pratt from IBM on software documentation tools, Laura Zdanski on Foreign Language learning, and Alyssa Andersen on her usability testing experience with Cherwell Software. Lauren Di Monte of the NC State Libraries MakerSpace also brought a 3D printer to do live demonstrations throughout the morning.

Conversations: Attendees learned about agile development process through sessions conducted by Susan Carpenter and Beverly Heustess. Other important topics in technical communication were discussed in Ashley Hardin’s session on collaborative writing, Chris Sanchez on alt-text, and Localization challenges by Nikita Apraj. Christine and Tracy from Red Hat conducted an insightful session on Proposal Management. Other sessions on current trends included Moses Ifamose on visual communication and Rachael Graham on Augmented Reality in Technical Communication.

Workshops: Beverly Heustess led participants through creatively developing an agile sprint session. Arthur Berger’s session on creating multi-modal form of online posts leveraged the talents of the participants to source and collaboratively develop a multi-modal synopsis of the presentations at this link here.

The other attractions at the event were the door prizes for participants, speakers and scavenger-hunt prizes which were distributed through a raffle.  

In short, a day full of activities, good food, networking, and learning is what this year’s SpeedCon was all about. At its essence, SpeedCon was a team effort.  We are truly grateful to the TCA, our sponsors, the English Department, organizers, volunteers, and those who joined in spontaneously for making this event a success.

Looking forward to the next SpeedCon!

Nupoor Jalindre
Event Coordinator, TCA
nsjalind [at]


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