Power to the people

What is the relationship between technical communication and social media?  Hmmm. Well, what is technical communication and who are technical communicators?  The Wikipedia definition of technical communication is “Individuals in a variety of contexts and with varied professional credentials engage in technical communication.”  To me, that would mean that journalists are the biggest group, followed by teachers, scientists, historians, lawyers and news anchors.   Wikipedia then goes on to say “ The Society for Technical Communication defines the field as any form of communication that focuses on technical or specialized topics, communicates specifically by using technology or provides instructions on how to do something.”  Wait a minute, that would mean that almost anybody could be a technical communicator?

In the not-so-distant past, a person looking for information on a specific topic would be limited to the library, newspaper, or in person communication to gain knowledge on that topic.  A person could also subscribe to any number of print publications specializing on the topic they were interested in.  Given the definition above, although anyone could be a technical communicator, only those given a voice could be heard on a grand scale.  This would limit technical communicators to the people with titles in certain professions that the publishers deemed worthy of voicing their work and/or opinion.

But, then the internet changed things.  Albeit slowly at first, the last decade experienced an explosion in emerging media and began to upset the balance, pull back the curtain, dethrone the information totalitarians. Today, we as “regular people”, have a voice.  Today, we all have the ability to be technical communicators.  I can’t help but ask myself if this is a positive development.  Do I really want Joe Blow invading my Facebook news feed?  Do I want the idiot next door to be able to reach a wide audience and preach about the benefits of not cutting your grass?  The answer is obviously “no”, but that is the wrong way to look at it.

Although the less than desirable viewpoints can now be broadcast beyond sewing circles, it also allows truly gifted and inspiring people access to the masses.  Even though the message from the article “Banal Bohemia:Blogging from the Ivory Tower Hot-Desk” was as follows, it made me think that the “professionals” can no longer recklessly or irresponsibly communicate without consequences. The professionals’ content is being pushed by newcomers, their accuracy is being scrutinized, and their topics are even being altered by the readers.  This change is a huge benefit for the average person.  Now, articles and publications are clearer, more concise, and more relevant than ever before.  This improved content is also being offered for free on a seemingly infinite number of platforms.  Society no longer is bound by the will and motivations of the few.  The power now belongs to the people.


Posted on September 14, 2014, in Social Media, Society and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What you describe in your final paragraph is exactly why Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006 was “you”: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1570810,00.html

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