Friday, 4 October 2013

Reflections on TCUK 2013

So it is a week after the most excellent Technical Communication (TCUK) 2013 conference. It was a chance to learn some new stuff, revitalise some old stuff and meet a load of people across a wide range of writing disciplines. I found the “commercial proposal” sessions especially useful in that I tend to do quite a bit of it these days, on both sides of the customer-bidder fence. I especially enjoyed Kai Weber’s exposition on “meaning” – a blast to my old PhD days and re-invigoration of social constructivist principles (and sharing our views of reality, which were mostly convergent). His session was so nicely contained that I failed to heckle him with any awkward ontological questions. The same could not be said about the “Agile” session – and to this moment I fail to have a reasoned answer to how on earth you pay for a project run in an Agile way, without giving the writing team a pile of blank signed cheques (which is great for the writing team). 

My paper about the risks and opportunities to be found writing in the Energy and Resources sectors was well received, with no fewer than two in-the-pipeline journal articles as spin-offs. What surprised me most was that although my study was small-scale, that the emergent findings seemed to resonate far and wide with people who work in other sectors, even as far away as software. Anyway, the presentation slides are available on opal-flame here and a full unedited academic-style write up will be available soon.

On a tangential note, I am glad to be back in the realm of home cooking (and jam making). Three days of English chain hotel food leaves a substantial lump in one’s stomach. I’m sure if Sir Paul McCartney stayed at a Marriott, we would have never got the fabulous song “Yesterday”. Think about that one and don’t eat the scrambled eggs, ever.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Dr Bob at Technical Communication 2013

Heading off to the Technical Communication (TCUK) 2013 conference in Bristol in the morning. This is the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicator's (ISTC) annual conference, geared towards all things techy and communicationey (I just made that word up, cheesy, yes).

Furthermore, I'll be presenting a paper entitled "Technical Writing in Energy and Resources: Risks and Opportunities" on the Thursday. This is based on my recent experiences as a writer in the energy and resources industry and will hopefully be of interest to other writers who have a leaning towards engineering.

Conference website:

Here's my bit:

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Push Marketing is Dead: Thank God for email filters...

From a pragmatic point of view, most small business owners are in the game of trying to peddle our wares to new frontiers every once in a while. Yet, how many of you actually enjoy receiving those bulk emails, often via proxies such as "infusion soft", inviting us to look at this product, click on this link, waste our time being told what wonderful things will happen if we spend our money here. How many of us like being called in the middle of the working day to listen to the dulcet tones of someone reading off a card (and often getting upset if they are not allowed to finish reading their card)?

Personally, I've got to the point where I am contemplating filtering the word "infusion" out of my mailbox (which will be a double downer for anyone trying to sell me herbal teas!). As a case example, there is a US based teacher whom I used to follow via her weekly newsletters. She then got in with marketing professionals who obviously told her to push, push, push. The emails went over to infusion soft and within a month I unsubscribed because I was sick of being told what wonderful products I could buy. As a more close to hand case study, most of you will know I run a little music on the side. Everytime I make a pushy announcement on facebook that I have a new album on sale or that I've got new tour dates, my friend list goes down, by just a few.

So as I do not end in a sea of despair, where does this leave us? Daniel Priestley is correct to point out that Key People do not often need to advertise - work, influence, flows in and out of them without any seeming effort. This is true of a certain mastering engineer I know who did my albums - £000,000s of studio and I don't even think he has a website. In the UK, I think we are becoming more push-savvy and less tolerant to the card reading salesperson. I am increasingly becoming in favour of pull marketing instead - develop relationships, be seen to be present online and offline, offer your targets free information and products.

What are your experiences?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Wind Energy

Highly interesting article on wind energy, Japanese claim to have tripled efficiency which brings it into a wholly new commercial ballpark. Although not directly related, brings back thoughts about Tesla's experiments...

Saturday, 3 September 2011

New Opal Flame Website

Check out the new Opal Flame Consultancy website at where it has had a complete visual shakedown and update on content, with links to relevant social media and business networking sites.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Welcome to the Opal Flame Blog

Follow this blog to view news and Dr Bob's commentary on a wide and eclectic field of events and interest areas, old and new. Engage in debates on areas from science to engineering to metaphysics and music.

To get started - what are your views on the growing amount of "Street Furniture" seen in urban areas these days? Curse or Useful?

Opal Flame is a technical and creative consultancy headed by Dr Robert Illes. The mission statement is:

Creating with Excellence and Authenticity.
Helping Companies Create a Stronger Operational Base.