Monday, October 25, 2010

LavaCon 2.0: The Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies

Review by Pamela Coca

To delve deeply into social media is an understatement when explaining the underlying theme of this year’s LavaCon conference in San Diego, CA, September 29 through October 2, 2010. Technical writers and social media gurus flew in from all over the world. It was, to say the least, absolutely phenomenal! There were nearly 60 sessions and pre- and post-conference workshops on content development, project management and social media marketing.

LavaCon creator and Executive Director, Jack Molisani, must have cloned himself for the conference because he was omnipresent—Jack was everywhere, all the time.

Prior to the conference, my perception of social media was that it was a way for teens to stay in touch and perverts to find new victims. By the end of the first day I had completely changed my mind and gained new respect for the subject.

LavaCon opened with Jolynn Atkins of Escoe Bliss Professional Resources helping attendees get acquainted before starting her talk, Introduction to Social Media. By the end of Jolynn’s presentation everyone in the audience had LinkedIn and Twitter accounts—yes, even me.

Social media guru and Escoe Bliss manager, Jolynn Atkins got LavaCon off to a great start by making sure attendees knew each other (in person and on line).

DK from MediaSnackers flew in from Wales in the UK to present on Social Media for Executives, Business Owners and Entrepreneurs and the excitement built. When DK was finished, we had been introduced to Animoto, Audioboo,, capzles, coveritlive, slideshare, ustream and of course, facebook, just to name a few. Our heads were spinning! So suffice to say, LavaCon was off to a great start.

Over the next three days our brains turned quickly to mush as we rushed from one session to the next, trying to absorb everything that was being offered to us. I could go on and on telling you about each and every presenter that I heard and saw, but I’d need to write a novel instead of a blog. The best way you can catch up on what you missed is to visit the LavaCon wall. Besides slide presentations of almost every presenter, you will find news, recaps, tweets, and much more.

LavaCon events cater to the experienced technical writer who already knows the basics and who wants more and more and more. They are certainly not for the meek. By noon on the last day everyone was better educated, well-connected, and totally exhausted. We had been entertained, amused, and over-whelmed. We learned about re-tweets, mash-ups, pipes, and aggregators. We picked up acronyms like UX and UA and RIM. And as we waved goodbye to friends, old and new, we all swore to ourselves that we would type up our hand-scribbled notes and document our takeaways so that when LavaCon rolls around next year, we will remember why we loved it so much and why we have to return.

Southern Californian, Pamela Coca of Write-On Communications says she has been writing professionally since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Penned items include magazine articles, news editorials, tech manuals, web content, medical curriculum, and anything else that allows ink to be placed on paper. She believes that writers live to write as well as write to live. She is well-known in local circles for creating the award-winning Escoe Bliss Professional Resources website.


  1. Many thanks for the linklove - it was a great experience for me also, to be introduced to such a vibrant sector full of opportunity and (more importantly) fantastic people :-)

  2. Thank you, DK! I completely agree. I had an amazing time...meeting such fantastic people...learning such interesting and fascinating things. This is an excellent article! Thank you so much for posting this. I can't wait to read the next one!

  3. And you thought I was insane when I told you to snap up your social media id's (and start using them!) 8 months ago!!

    LavaCon was a great chance to meet so many influential tech comm and social media folks at one time.

    I'm struck by how many of those people are becoming a force in both circles; I don't see it as a coincidence!

  4. Great Review! It really was like that. And I thought tech writers did need to worry about social media! It's a really exciting new opportunity for us.

  5. This was my first Lavacon. I was enormously impressed with the quality of the presentations and the amount of information. In several different sessions, I heard things that made me think "This just paid for my trip down here."

  6. It sounds like it was a great time! Sorry I missed it.

  7. My first Lavacon as well, and it impressed. I enjoyed Scott Abel's animated session on social networking. Great write-up Pam. Looking forward to next year!


  8. Social networking is, perhaps, more the wave of the future than anyone would have thought back in the MySpace days, but in a way it is a dumbing-down of social interaction. True, it is faster and can move at the speed of a virus, but the QUALITY of the message isn't necessarily there any more. Not ALL technical writing, for example, needs to be professionally thought out and produced for learned consumption, but it sure does help! I've been around tech for so many years that I remember when it was all about "speeds and feeds"; i.e., hardware. But now the hardware is a given and the content is the thing -- I just fear for the future quality of the content... Hopefully it can keep up with the hardware side.

  9. I always find Lavacon interesting and useful for its "deep dives" into specific aspects of the field such as management and, in the last few years, social media. Jack should be commended for starting this conference and for continuing to run it in the face of the current economy. And he always puts it on in great venues...

  10. Hey All, thanks for the great comments!

    FYI: next year we're going to build on this program take it a step further, diving even deeper into the full content lifecycle.

    From ferreting out the hidden costs of implementing CMS on one end, to how to gather web and social media analytics at the other, attendees will gain the info they need to take charge of their company's content strategy and rock it out of the ballpark...!

    See You Soon,

    Jack Molisani
    Executive Director
    The LavaCon Conference

  11. Thanks for the recap, Pamela. I enjoyed it a great deal. LavaCon was an amazing experience. It catapaulted my work and I know there is more to come. I'm already looking forward to next year.