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Advancing the profession: 2017 IPEd Conference

Photo of Peter Riches

As regular readers will know, last month I attended the Institute of Professional Editors National Editors Conference in Brisbane.

I’ve been a member of IPEd state branch since 2009, including a stint on the committee a few years back. This was my third national conference, and the second time I’ve presented a paper. Any conference is an opportunity to connect (or sometimes reconnect) with peers, learn about industry developments and improve your professional skills. This one had the added advantage of being in balmy Brisbane.

There were a number of presentations that stood out, including fellow Editors Victoria member Philip Bryan‘s ‘The index of unreadability’. After a serious concussion from a cycling accident, Philip was intrigued by how his ability to take in written information was affected during his recovery, particularly when reading from a screen. Happily for the rest of us, he used the experience to draw out some fascinating insights into readability and accessibility.

Another talk I really enjoyed was Stephen White‘s ‘How will editors adapt to an evolving digital future?’ exploring the problem of editing detailed maps and digital atlases in his work with the Geological Survey of Western Australia. It was a stark reminder of the fact that the editing and change tracking tools found in Microsoft Word are relatively uncommon, and many software applications do not yet include the means to easily create and manage revisions to the original source material.

And then there were the keynote speeches, which are usually a highlight, and this year was no exception. Sophie Cunningham gave a fascinating summary of her 30-year career as an editor, one she told the audience owed its genesis to the fact she once rented a house from Hilary McPhee, who happened to be a cofounder of Australian publisher McPhee Gribble.

Linguist and IPEd patron Professor Roly Sussex opened my eyes to the degree to which English when spoken as a second language is influenced by culture in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, but have significant implications for professional editors.

Interestingly for a conference that was about editing, the final keynote was by someone who draws for a living, the Courier-Mail’s political cartoonist, Sean Leahy. Sean provided an insight into where he gets his ideas, showed off some of his favourite work, and drew some caricatures on the spot of some current politicians.

For my own presentation I spoke about the various technologies we employ to aid our work at Red Pony. The topic was obviously of interest to many of my peers as there was a full house in attendance (admittedly it was a small room) and I had a number of very interesting conversations with some of those who attended in the aftermath.

For more information about the conference, see the IPEd official conference website, or Rhonda Bracey’s impressively thorough blog posts covering day one and day two (thanks also for the kind review of my session Rhonda!). Finally, thanks to my hosts in Brisbane, Helena Bond and Ross Clark.

Photo: Breeana Dunbar

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