Technical Communicators, Prepare for the Future(!)

After several weeks of assigned readings, I think it is safe to say that technology changes and social media will continue to play an important role in pop culture, work life, and politics.  The internet and social media are here to stay and will continue to affect our lives, but, just like Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, I don’t think anyone knows exactly what impact they will have in the long run.  Although, how will technology changes and social media affect technical communicators, exactly?

  • Digital and print texts.  Due to increased digital literacy, technical communicators will continue to create texts designed especially for the internet.  Technical communicators must be able to design texts for print and hypertexts as long as the internet continues growing in use and accessibility.  In the future, technical communicators must master skills such as web design, in order to create effective documentation for users.
  • Different product, same user manual.  Technical communicators will need to be able to adapt their writings because “products being documented often differ from those that are mass produced” (Dicks, p. 58).  With the ability to custom order products to fit the customer’s lifestyle and needs, technical communicators must be willing to adapt the way in which they create user manuals or make them universal without being too vague.
  • Does this job come with benefits?  Many technical communicators will be “officially unemployed but constantly working. (p. 59).  Due to the changing needs of companies, technical communicators’ jobs will be contracted positions in the future.  To save money and office space, technical communicators will frequently work from home in the future, and employers will hire them on a temporary basis for special projects so that the company can avoid paying for an employee’s insurance and benefits.  Working from home can be a big benefit for employees.  According to a USA Today article, employees who work from home tend to be more productive and have a better work and life balance.

  • Social media.  I knew social media would be important for technical communicators after several of the assigned readings dealt with this topic, but I was still unsure of why so I needed to do some research.  Technical communicators will need to continue to embrace social media.  An article on InformationWeek explains that social media tears down the wall between the technical communicator and the user.  Furthermore, social media will encourage technical communicators to spend less time actually writing and more time curating the best wikis and videos to promote to users.  This change will somewhat devalue the role of the technical communicator, but will promote the role of community.

I hope these “tips” help you – I know that I will keep them in mind as I start looking for technical communicator positions!

Posted on October 5, 2013, in Literacy, Social Media, Workplace and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It’s a scary thing to read the thought that technical communicators will become a contracted role. I think some companies could benefit from this, but in most companies it seems the technical communicator wears a lot of hats. In companies where technical communicators just write documents, it may work to have a contractor fill the role. In companies where the technical communicator does trainings and user experience roles as well, a contractor position will not work well. I guess this is why the readings talk about how technical communicators need to show they are capable of more than just writing, but add a lot of value to the company.

    It seems though with social media becoming such a big thing for businesses that a technical communicator could provide support via forums or blogs, even FaceBook, making them a valuable full-time asset to the company.

  2. evelynmartens13

    Love your casual Friday cartoon! I don’t particularly want to end up a contract worker without benefits, but it would have its perks.

    This week’s reading from Digital Literacy did concern me. In fact, I started to wonder if this is really what I want to do because I don’t want to end up being a writing-“chunks” factory worker, which is what it sounds like could happen if we aren’t able to articulate our value. Still, I also think there may be some exciting opportunities for people to play a much larger role if we can accomplish what the author suggests and show how we add value to an organization.

  3. I am glad my job at work is not that of technical communicator. I do technical communication at work on a daily basis, but my primary responsibility is Quality Assurance.

    We do have a number of employees who are telecommuters, working as far away as LA and Last Vegas. I don’t think I could be a telecommuter on a consistent basis. I’m not really a social person, but I like to be around people. On the rare days I work from home (Snow Days, etc), Its ok, but I can usually only handle one, maybe two days, but more than that I need to get back to the office.

    I don’t think I need to worry about my job turning my position into a contractor. We have a habit of hiring a contractor to work for us, but then hiring them as employees.

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