Social Media: Embrace It or Suffer

First off, I didn’t really care for the Carliner article this week. There wasn’t anything wrong with it. I’m just getting a little tired of reading about the history of technical communication. Carliner took a little different approach with his article though, focusing the technology and how that technology shaped the field. I guess that was pretty interesting. Also, it was interesting to see how the technical communicator’s job changed as the technology changed. Now, our jobs are changing again. Web 2.0 technologies have made everyone an expert. Anyone can create content. At first, it seems as though technical communicators are being replaced with an endless supply of free labor that create content just because they like to. However, that is not the case. Technical communicators only need to adapt. We become content strategists, Communication Specialist,  Social Media Curators, and so on.

I also found it interesting that the early word processing and desktop publishing tools required the use of tags, much like HTML. Eventually those complex systems became simpler WYSIWYGs. The same thing happened to web development tools. Early on, when creating  website, you had to write the whole thing in HTML. But as tools advanced, you could build a website with drag-and-drop tools and WYSIWYGs. However, none of these tools work quite right for the web designer who cares about his/her code. Most drag-and-drop tools leave the code on the backend messy, which isn’t good. Messy code slows down load time. Also, messy code usually means the website will not pass accessible standards because screen readers have trouble reading the code.

I just thought I’d mention that above paragraph as an example of technology that makes technical communication easier, but isn’t quite there yet.

About chrismoellering

I am pretty much awesome!

Posted on October 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Chris,

    I like your sincerity when you were explaining how you feel about the history of technical communication and thats a sign of a good technical communicator to let your reader know everything about how you feel. Thanks for breaking down the information about web.2.0 and as well as the explanation about word processing and desktop tools use of tags and how its its transition to become simpler WYSIWYGs. This made me appreciate the power of blogging sharing ideas which might have slipped when I was personally reading. Sometimes the book becomes too much for some of us and when a fellow student breaks it there is a light somehow. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Wow, I am so impressed with your knowledge of website building! I also think your point about adapting to be extremely valid. Society is constantly growing and changing and if we are not willing to keep up, we will soon be left behind!

  3. Chris, you’re obviously a web guru and if I remember right you work with web sites at the U of M, right? Either way, I appreciated your perspective because I know next to nothing about HTML I think you’re completely right that while there will be templates for web sites, in order to create something custom, people like yourself will be necessary forever. Once a social media user wants to set themselves apart from the average user, they’ll look to an expert to manage different elements that they can’t in order to make them stand out.

  4. While I never want to assign reading that is repetitive for students, I’m glad I included the Carliner so students new to the program could have that overview. In the weeks coming there may be more readings to choose from so you can always focus your blog posts on those. Til then, keep up the good work. There was an ideal blend of opinion, reference to theory, and application to current workplace experience in this post!

  5. Since Facebook went and changed their interface, I kind of feel more like it’s “Embrace Social Media AND Suffer.” I know I shouldn’t complain about a free service that really is an important way for me to keep in touch with my friends, but changing it all the time is just a bunch of hooey.

    • I don’t know why Facebook is making these changes but I’m definitely using it less, even the App version. Who knows what we’ll see happen in the coming weeks!

  6. Chris—

    I feel your pain when it comes to learning about the history of Technical Communication. I think we’ve covered it in almost every class. The thing I liked about the Carliner articles was how the author made a direct connection with technology and technical communication because it shows how closely the two are related.

    I think you’re right when you say that Technical Communicators need to adapt. At my last job, I was hired only to write content for products. As the company became larger and as my boss understood all my skills, I became the go-to guy for writing styles, press releases, and Web content. I could have said no to the extra work but I chose to adapt because I knew it would benefit me in the end.

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