Atlanta Currents a Big Energizer for Me--
I freely admit that I went to this year's Atlanta STC Currents with low expectations. I'm not sure why. As it turned out, I left more excited and energized than from any international conference I've ever attended. The three sessions I attended demonstrated leading edge thinking that I just wasn't anticipating at a local conference (Jack Massa's report on a usability assessment project, Holly Harkness's panel discussion combining perspectives of industry practitioners and academics, and Jennifer Bowie's presentation on the declining interest in research). The keynote by the new STC Executive Director, Susan Burton, was best summarized by Dirk Bender, "There's a new sheriff in town."
What's my point? Go to your regional conferences. The class acts and presentations you get at the international conferences are speaking at the regionals. For example, George Hayhoe, editor of the STC journal Technical Communication, will be doing a presentation on Knowledge Management 101 at the Summit conference in May. George used Currents as a warm-up for that presentation.
But best of all for me was the interaction I had with other technical communicators as we talked about the "bigger issues" that face our profession and not just the daily grind of "can you get Notes working today?" It was a delightful serving of brain food and caffeine for my professional motivation.