Unconference – TC Summer Camp 2017

Thanks for coming to TC Camp last weekend! You never know what you’re going to learn or where the discussions lead. Discussions change as the participants change. Different people with different backgrounds and different experiences provide insight into what we do and how we do it.

TC Camp wouldn’t be anything without you! Before you call TC Summer Camp 2017 a wrap, give us your opinions on the event:

Fill out the Feedback Form

We’re glad you came and are very eager to hear what you have to say!

What’s different about TC Summer Camp?

Join our unconference and use the day to talk about everything techcomm!

This year we’re hosting smaller group sessions, to encourage deeper connections with the issues you care about. If you’re serious about improving your career and your professional standing, you won’t want to miss TC Summer Camp, it’s something of a Master Camp.

Build deeper connections with small groups at TC Summer Camp in DC this year.  Share advice, get feedback, and ask burning questions about technical communications. TC Summer Camp means smaller groups so everyone has an opportunity to speak and be heard.

Attendees can attend all three workshops…or choose to stay in one the entire time to get a deeper connection to the instructor and the content. In this more intimate, focused event you can really connect with the other leaders in your profession and with the issues that concern you the most!

TC Summer Camp from the team that brought you the wildly successful TC Camp Unconference in Silicon Valley.


  • Date: Saturday, 9 September 2017
  • Time: 8:30 am to 6:00 pm
  • VenueDistrict Architecture Center (DAC)
  • WiFi will be available, so you can Tweet and blog!
  • Bring: Curiosity, business cards, portable device (for notes, blogging, etc)
  • Questions, feedback, coordination? Email your camp counselors


Event Schedule

This is an approximate schedule of the day’s events:

  • 8:30 AM – Registration opens – Continental breakfast, networking, and registration!
  • 9:00 AM – Hands-on Workshops – Workshops run from 9:00-12:00
    at TC Summer Camp can choose one or attend all three!

  • 12:00 AM – Workshops end – Break, refreshments, and more networking!
  • 12:15 AM – Unconference Begins. The first general session includes:
    • Overview
    • Keynote
    • Session Proposals
    • Topic Voting
    • Lunch (provided)
    • Keynotes
    • Sponsor Presentations
  • 1:30 PM – Session Matrix Posted (3 time slots 6 tables, with title, leader and scribe per session)
    • Session 1
    • Session 2
    • Break – snacks & networking
    • Session 3
  • 4:30 PM – Camp Minimalist (session summaries)
  • 5:30 PM – Raffle and Wrap-up

Thank you in advance for your notes and summary to everyone who volunteers as note-takers and session leaders!

Thanks to all the sponsors:
TC Summer Camp 2017!

TC Camp would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. When we reached out for companies to support this unconference, these pioneering spirited companies said YES without hesitation!

Special thanks to our Ambassador, our Scout Leaders, our Rangers, our Conservationists and our Stewards!

If you see a sponsor in the wild, be sure to thank them for being a TC Camp Sponsor!

Camp Ambassador (Platinum Sponsor)


Adobe’s Technical Communication group delivers best-in-class tools, systems and services aimed at facilitating the end-to-end process of creating ground-breaking content, managing content effectively and efficiently using cutting edge systems, publishing content seamlessly across media and devices, and achieving greater business success. Adobe’s tools and solutions help deliver contextual, consumable and actionable content while offering highest return on investment. With the convergence of marketing and technical content across enterprises – Adobe’s new-age solutions will empower your organization to create valuable experiences that build your brands, drive demand, and extend the reach and ROI of customer-facing content, pre-sale AND post-sale.

Camp Scout Leaders (Gold Sponsors)


easyDITA accelerates creating and delivering content. It is a complete DITA authoring, publishing, and component content management system (CCMS). easyDITA’s users can create, share, reuse, localize, and deliver information faster and easier than ever before. We pride ourselves on delivering a complete approach to content development. From authoring to publishing, we’re there every step of the way. Visit us at easydita.com.

Camp Rangers (Silver Sponsors)


Camp Conservationists (Bronze Sponsors)


Camp Stewards (Green Sponsors)

STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter STC Rochester Chapter STC Washington DC Chapter

Camp Counselors (Assistant Camp Organizers)

TC Camp Inc is a 501(c)(3).  All donations are tax deductible.These companies sponsor members to the TC Camp Board and help make TC Camp happen:

Single-Sourcing Solutions Single-Sourcing Solutions specializes in everything related to dynamic product information creation, publication, and delivery.
leximation-300x88 Increase your efficiency with our tools and solutions. Leximation creates targeted solutions that specifically fit your needs.
Group Wellesley provides writing, publishing, and information management solutions.
CoolText Senior-level Tech Comms expert, who loves learning new technologies and keeping up with current tools and trends.

Adobe Workshop – TC Summer Camp 2017

Creating and Managing Content Across the Organization

Marketing, Engineering, and Technical Publications teams often develop content in different tools and store content in separate content management systems, which makes it difficult to share content and deliver a unified and consistent customer experience. Join Dustin Vaughn, Solutions Consulting Manager with Adobe, as he demonstrates a holistic approach to content and how it addresses many of the time-consuming and error prone aspects of content creation.

Workshop leader: Dustin Vaughn, Solutions Consulting Manager, Adobe

DustinVaughnDustin is the Solutions Consulting Manager for the Technical Communication group at Adobe. He moved to Florida from Texas (days before he came to his first TC Camp), and enjoys taking his four sons to watch donkey basketball (It’s a real thing – check YouTube!). On the business side of things, he manages a team of experts in Adobe’s Technical Communication and eLearning products. Dustin has served as a panelist, speaker, and Adobe representative at various industry conferences. He designs, develops, and hosts technical, solution-oriented demonstrations for strategic global customers. He was also the solution designer and presenter for a cross-organizational and multi-product project designed for a key US Government client.

When: Saturday 9 September 2017


Structured Authoring Workshop – TC Summer Camp 2017

Structured Authoring for Beginners

Are you new to structured authoring and topic-based writing? Are you more comfortable with unstructured desktop publishing applications and apprehensive about moving to XML or some other structured authoring environment?

This workshop is for you if you want to know the how, why, and what it is about structured authoring that has other companies pursuing something like DITA, even if, right now, you don’t have to do it yourself.

Get the basics of structured authoring and topic based writing in this gentle, but experiential workshop.

When: Saturday 9 September 2017


Workshop leader: Janice Summers, Single-Sourcing Solutions, specializes in helping people who’ve only ever used unstructured desktop publishing applications learn structured authoring. She’s been successfully transitioning Word users to XML authoring for the last 15 years and hasn’t lost anyone yet!

An Interview with Janice by Li-At, our roving Camp Reporter

Li-At: So this workshop is about Structure Authoring. Why is Structured Authoring interesting to you?

Janice: Structured authoring forces us to think in terms that are a little different, a little more modularized. It makes it so our content stands on its own and it can be reused.

In traditional writing forms, we hodge-podge things together—like processes and steps together with descriptions and narratives—because we’re just thinking about a long-running document. But with modular writing, we separate the process (steps in a process) from the narrative. So that in some applications, we might insert this process step into a different type of content. Maybe we’re doing a troubleshooting guide, a users manual, and a general encyclopedia about the product. If we’re using a narrative form of authoring and not thinking in terms of structured authoring, everything’s mixed together and we have to reauthor for these different pieces. But if we think in terms of modularity and reuse, then we’re able to reuse that section in all these different publications—without having to reauthor it. Because we’ve done it once and we’ve done it well.

So I find it interesting because it forces us to step back and think a little differently, which I think is a good thing. I think it’s a little cleaner and easier. It’s difficult, yet easier. It’s difficult to recondition and retrain our habits. But once you get through that retraining and you start to think differently, it’s quite refreshing.

Nobody likes to write things over and over again. If you’ve already done it once, wouldn’t you rather work on something new and interesting?

Li-At: If this is a difference question, what attracted you to Structured Authoring?

Janice: The most attractive aspect of structured authoring is the ability to reuse. It should be the most attractive aspect for everybody.

I’m lazy; I don’t want to write it over and over again. I want to write it once and reuse it.  Then I want to work on something different. If I’ve got X number of hours in a day, I don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over again. I find no security and comfort in that. I’m selfish; I’d rather have more free time.

So I guess I find structured authoring really appealing because it’s going to save me time and drastically reduce the redundancy in my daily life.

Li-At: Who should attend this September 9 workshop?

Janice: This workshop is for anyone who’s curious about structured authoring. I tend to be quite unconventional when I do sessions. I like to really have engagement with people, and one of the best parts of TC Camp is that its intimate size provides a rare opportunity for candid conversations.

Aside from what I’ll teach, I’m hoping we’ll also have some interesting conversations about structure—what it means for each person who attends.

Li-At: What’s the one thing that all technical communicators should understand about Structured Authoring?

Janice: Structured authoring doesn’t mean DITA.

DITA is fantastic as an architectural design—it’s like a Rubik’s Cube. But you don’t have to be in DITA to think and act like a structured author.

Li-At: Okay, this is TC Camp. So my next question is, what’s your favorite camping spot?

Janice: Mount Madonna. It’s up in the Santa Cruz, California, mountain range and it has redwoods and madrone. Madrone is a shrubby tree that grows indigenous in redwood forests. It has this twisty, turny kind of way of growing in all different contortions because it reaches for the light in the dense forest.

Li-At: If you could take one person camping with you, who would that be and why?

Janice: Roger, my boyfriend. If I go camping without him, he’d be mad.

Effective Collaboration Workshop – TC Summer Camp 2017

Use your unique strengths to engage content collaborators

Does this sound like you? You need to engage with diverse professionals and personalities on authoring technical documentation, but find it hard to work with people that generalize, jump to conclusions, make changes without reasons, and race the clock? You are not alone. 14% of knowledge workers had felt like striking a coworker in the past year but didn’t, and 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work.

The chances are that your colleagues are among them. You may even be disengaged yourself. How then, can we fuel our teams with energy, inspire colleagues for personal growth, and encourage peers to contribute to a cause much bigger than themselves?

To get there, you will need to do things differently. You will need to find new ways of applying your talents, move communication to a higher level, and narrowly focus on the commitments for which you provide the most value.

Learn that you can achieve such change. You can begin with yourself because most people around you are disengaged. Do not expect action from them.

But you know that you are different. You are aware that if you don’t take charge, very likely no one else will. You have that special gift and a personal conviction that your team needs – and you want to put it to work. You are ready to initiate change in yourself and your team.

You will gain a solid understanding of:

  • Why people act the way they do
  • Your four unique talents that benefit the team
  • Causes of stress in collaborative teams
  • The most value can provide to your commitments

You will leave with concrete action items that strengthen your relationships and significance with your project stakeholders and boss.

This TC Camp workshop will challenge you. At the core is advice on how to connect and communicate more powerfully with your team.

Participants have significantly increased their ability to implement new learnings by taking an optional Kolbe A Assessment before the workshop. While you will greatly benefit from the new insights that you will gain in these workshops, you will able to define better action plans for yourself when you use your individualized Kolbe A assessment.

Get the Kolbe A Assessment

Registrants can purchase a Kolbe A assessment at a discounted price in advance of the workshop. (Neither of us, TC Camp or Andrew, are profiting financially from your taking the assessment.)

Here’s link to get the assessment: https://www.warewithal.com/kolbeindexes/?name_id=781361showre&indexType=A&

Register to attend at TC Summer Camp

When: Saturday 9 September 2017


Workshop Leader

Andrew Lawless, Rockant Inc

Andrew Lawless is a best-selling author, performance coach, educator, and consultant. He is razor sharply focused on inspiring and priming professionals for success. He uses a time-proven and scientifically verified approach to boost team performance. Andrew helps you uncover your strengths and hidden talents so that working together will be easier and more productive than ever before.

Andrew brings a unique blend of experience in behavioral sciences, publishing, localization, and education. He served as a trainer and consultant to the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit where he helped analyze the mindset of hostage takers. Andrew presented his successes with improving global marketing teams to the US White House and testified before the US Senate on the importance of professional development in localization to the US economy. He is adjunct professor at the University of Maryland.

An Interview with Andrew Lawless

By Li-At Rathbun, the TC Camp Roving Reporter

Li-At: So this workshop is about effective collaboration. Why is the topic of effective collaboration—improving engagement with content collaborators—interesting to you?

Andrew: I’ve spent my entire life making good people better.

What gives me pleasure is not profits. That’s a business outcome, not a motivation. What motivates me is when I can look at a team or a person and see what I’ve inspired them to become, when they are fulfilled and have time for what matters most to them. That’s what excites me.

When I was in 6th grade, I got all Fs and was deemed “qualified only for special education school.” What happened was that I had developed juvenile diabetes and was nearly in a coma for 6 months. Nobody asked why I was suddenly failed in school and went from all As to all F. Instead teachers wanted to make sure that I will never have the ability to get a college degree. To this day, I am ambivalent about schools and its teachers. And at that time, I made the decision that no one that I can touch will have to go through that the way I did. Unfortunately, too many people at work feel misunderstood. Their potential remains untapped. These are the people that have my full attention.

Li-At: If this is a difference question, what attracted you to this topic?

Andrew: Most of my life—from childhood on—was all about how I can help good people get better. It breaks my heart when I go into organizations and I see people struggle. They struggle for 3 reasons:

  1. They have a way of working that clashes with somebody else’s.
  2. They have a set of natural strengths and their job doesn’t fit their strengths.
  3. Their boss requires a different set of natural strengths than that of the job holder.

Li-At: Who should attend this September 9 workshop?

Andrew: Everybody who works as a knowledge worker, needs to communicate with others, and wants to improve the quality of their communication.

People that went through previous workshops have called it a life-changing event. It’s very deep. I highly suggest that participants complete Kolbe A Index beforehand and come to the session with your results. I will introduce an exercise called the commitment clarifier – and your Kolbe A will be key tool to use it. That’s how you’ll get the most value out of the workshop.

[Editors note from Li-At:
Here’s link to get the assessment at cost: https://www.warewithal.com/kolbeindexes/?name_id=781361showre&indexType=A&.
Andrew is not profiting financially
from your taking this assessment.

In this workshop, I will:

  • Talk about your limiting beliefs.
  • Help you rewire your brain and turn limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs.
  • Help you understand the neuroscience and mechanics behind limiting beliefs.
  • Help you understand the framework, so that you can explain your own behavior and others’ behavior better.

Within these two hours—I will help you set the foundations for powerful change; to turn your limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs and actions. But that’s where it has to stop, because we only have a limited time.

Li-At: What’s the one thing that all technical communicators should understand about effective collaboration?

Andrew: The most important thing is that technical documentation is increasingly becoming a collaborative effort that’s supported by technology (like GitHub—where you collaborate with developers), and we’ll also see more and more automation in terms of content reuse.

So if you want to continue to make a difference, it has to be on how do we work better as a team? How do we make a better product, or avoid things like having the terms in the screenshot be different than the terms in the document, or intermittent use of different terms for the same thing?

I’m also seeing that content authoring—tech doc writers—have a crucial position in R&D. Because they’re the ones, more than the developers, who can find the inconsistencies better than everyone else. And that’s such a crucial function and role.

Li-At: Okay, this is TC Camp. So my next question is, what’s your favorite camping spot?

Andrew: I hate camping. I can see why people are attracted to it. But my philosophy is that when I go on vacation, I want it to be better than at home.

Li-At: If you did go camping and could take one person camping with you, who would that be and why?

Andrew: My wife, Ann. That’s the one person I would like to be with every single second of my life. She is my source of strength, my muse and inspiration. Sharp like a knife, steady like a train. I hate being away from her.