Joe Sponge at the STC India Conference

Used with permission from Nirupama Singh. – Pranav

The morning of November 11 dawned fresh and clear.  There was a slight nip in the air but that was going to go away by the afternoon if I was any judge. Not that it really mattered.  I was probably going to be inside the hotel for the duration of the preconference workshops.  My introduction to STC India happened thanks to a friend referring me to the Society for Technical Communications.  I had decided to get into technical writing after a lot of soul-searching.  I was searching for a career where I could utilize my passion for technology and for books.  I was thrilled to find that STC had a chapter in India.  The mailing list was friendly, and surprise, surprise, a major technical writing conference was being held in Delhi!  Usually Bangalore has such “interesting” events.  Predictably, most of the writers I found were based in Bangalore or Mumbai.

Once I got over the initial astonishment of having such a significant event in Delhi, I registered immediately.  The problem as always came in selecting tracks.  I eventually settled on one and off I went.  It was fortunate that, all the tracks were held at the Sheraton.  If the original programme had been adhered to, I was in for at least an hour long car ride.

Conferences are exceptionally challenging especially if one cannot see.  Basic navigation is doable but the problem starts in “networking”.  For one thing, you don’t really know what the speaker looks like secondly there is no way for you to read name tags.  It is all very well to wear your conference badge but unless you are a speaker, it is not possible for you to either be noticed or, find the person you actually want to talk to. I did not fancy doing any talking. I was going to absorb information so this may not be such a problem.  I had decided to rely on my gut and go by the feel of the mailing list.  The volunteers were friendly and as happens in many such conferences, we had some interesting rescheduling take place.  I was in no mood to sit idle waiting for the initial session I had planned to attend. I found myself in the section on e-learning conducted by Thejaswini Uni.  There was something about Web 2.0 in the session title and I imagined things like action scripts and Flash running through my head.  There had been no teaser for the session which further increased the mystery.

It turned out to be a fortunate accident.  For one thing, I found myself seated with highly competent and outgoing teammates.  We had an instant frequency match and from there, we took the audience, on an African safari (visas not required).  It was fascinating to see how different groups treated the same concept differently.  For a change, we did not encounter any significant technology issues.  So no “mike testing check”.  I was not present for the hard-core software related workshops so I don’t know what happened there but otherwise, the technology behaved itself.  Murphy of course had to be somewhere so we did get into a few interesting scheduling clashes.  However, no one minded, especially in the panel discussions if a large bunch of orphaned delegates strode in late.

Lady luck must have had a grin on her face on day three.  I was able to make it for the session on freelance writing. Mr. Ravi Kumar, or raviwriter as he is known on the web, is a passionate freelancer.  The recession was proving to be the golden age for freelancing.  Everything was being outsourced.  It was a simple matter of finding a few customers and that was that.  A testament to the quality of the session is that we did get a glimpse of where to find these elusive customers.  The slides however flashed by too quickly for anyone to take any notes.  Still, those places are out there and I don’t think they are going anywhere. The rest of the day was spent cruising through different sessions based on chance and who I was with.  I had no defined plan so I attended a variety of sessions ranging from Adobe’s Web 2.0 offerings to commonly made management mistakes.

Finally, gentle reader, thank you for reading this far. It is time for this sponge to return to the deep to do some research since another deadline looms.

About the author:

Pranav is a freelance  copywriter. His website is

He writes technical material as well as marketing case studies, brochures etc which is why he styles himself as a copywriter as opposed to a technical writer.

About the illustration:

Used with permission from Nirupama Singh.