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Write the Docs Prague 2021

Oliwia Połeć, Wojciech Gumiński in Developer Console on Nov 24, 2021

This year's Write the Docs conference attracted even more people from the LiveChat content team. Oliwia Połeć, a Technical Writer and Wojciech Gumiński, a Customer Education Specialist decided to join the event and share their views on it.

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Oliwia: It was my first time attending a conference like that, even the first time attending a conference at all! How about you, have you ever been to a conference?

Wojtek: Same here! This was my first one as well, but definitely not the last one. Did you have any expectations for the event?

Oliwia: Not really, though I was very hyped to attend all the talks, as I saw the schedule beforehand. I was excited for some of the talks more than for others, though I can say that in the end, all of them caught my attention in some way. I didn’t really know what exactly I should be expecting, and I was very positively surprised about the neat organization of the conference, the talks, and the whole event vibe. I actually work a bit closer to the technical documentation than you do, so how did you, in your role, enjoy the talks? Did you like any in particular the best?

Wojtek: I was initially worried that the topics of the presentations would not fit my work profile, but in the end, I was able to get valuable information from every talk I participated in. And I enjoyed all of them. For example, the career stories that some of the writers shared in addition to their general conference talks were very inspirational.

The one I enjoyed the most was "So you need to give bad news to users." by Ryan Macklin. He had great insight about being aware of the state of mind of your readers and promoting empathy among writers. He also shared great life examples of "bad news" messages and how we can become better at delivering them.

Oliwia: Yeah, definitely! The real-life examples that presenters shared from their experience were a brilliant addition to every talk. I felt like we could really feel the authenticity of what they were speaking about, and that it was based on a lot of deep thinking and analysis. Ryan’s talk was especially great for me because he’s been speaking a lot about remembering the neurodiverse people among us, and how they can perceive information differently than others. That’s something I feel could still be being overlooked in some aspects of writers’ work.

Personally, I liked two talks the most: “Docs leadership: How to become a stronger leader for your team” by Jenn Leaver and “More than words: Reviewing and updating your information architecture” by Lana Brindley. Though I’m nowhere near being a leader, I felt like Jenn’s talk really helped me to get in a leader’s shoes and understand how I, as a team member, can help them achieve our team’s goals and how to better support our team overall. As for Lana's talk, I just deeply resonate with being organized and refactoring something to be even better than it is in its current state, so I definitely picked up some action points from this talk to use in our own docs! It’s kind of a bummer, though, that I didn’t have a chance to attend the unconference talks, as I wanted to get the most out of the conference ones. Maybe you attended these?

Wojtek: Unfortunately, I did not. I really wanted to check all of the main course presentations as I believed they’d bring the most value out of the whole event. However, it turned out that the main presentations are recorded and published on YouTube, so I would’ve definitely made some time available for the unconference talks and other activities if I had known about that earlier. Next year perhaps!

Oliwia: Totally! I also didn’t know that even the Q&A sessions were recorded, and I was really tempted to attend the unconference talks, sacrificing the main ones for these. I particularly wanted to attend the Q&A sessions, and I needed to watch the talks so I could get the context of the Q&As. Think of how surprised I was when Write The Docs published the playlist with the talks on YouTube, and all the Q&A sessions were there! Next year, I will definitely attend some of the unconference talks as the topics they put in the schedule were super interesting for me.

I feel that the only disadvantage of the Q&A sessions was that they had a limited time for these, and they needed to sometimes cut the list of questions so the next presenter could get on the stage.

Wojtek: Right, that was a shame indeed. I also would like the organizers to include more diverse topics for the writing workshops. I feel like the ones offered this year were mainly focused on writing codes and API documentation. I was afraid that I wouldn’t bring anything relevant to workshops like that, so I skipped them.

Oliwia: Yeah, I didn’t attend those workshops either, but I’m thinking about that for next year. As a “newbie conference attendee,” I was afraid I’d ruin the organization of the workshop not knowing what I’m supposed to do with my group! However now, I feel like the workshops, the unconference talks, and the hallway talks are the main privileges of attending the conference live. Since all the other talks, lightning talks, and the Q&A sessions are recorded on YouTube, I feel like if I attend the conference next year — which I hope I will! — I'll definitely put more time into getting to know the community and connecting with all the people at the conference. They all seemed really lovely in the chat messages, and the conference’s atmosphere was amazingly welcoming, so I believe that all of the “in-person” talks would be wonderful too.

Wojtek: I cannot disagree! My plan for next year's conference is to dive into the community and really get into the atmosphere of it all. For me personally, it was quite a shock to see such a welcoming and open-minded community. Something that I've never experienced on such a scale ever before.

Oliwia: Exactly! It seems that even though the event is called Write the Docs, they managed to pick talks that were interesting for all writers, and by that, connect many different people from all of the different specializations, not only the documentarians.

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