I do not always play well with others, but I will evolve.

While Spilka and her contributors for Digital Literary for Technical Communication drove me crazy by repetition large chucks of text ( see pages 11, 13, 16 regarding who the target audience for her book is) and having a chapter summarizing all the other chapters, there are a couple of things that I learned, besides understanding that if I have to read any more of this book, I will either need a couple of aspirins or a bottle of vodka. These two things that I found most important were evolving and that technical writers must play well with others.

 

            Evolve.

 

Yes, everyone should already know that technology is constantly evolving, and so its delivery methods and how technical communicators craft their messages need to evolve too. Without evolving, technical writers will fail to gain all the skills necessary for the latest publishing tools, such as FrameMaker and RoboHelp, to help their users and to continue building a positive reputation for whatever company is providing the products and resources. An example of this need for evolving ones skills is in the chapter titled, “The Effects of Digital Literacy on the Nature of Technical Communication Work,” Dicks writes,

 

                        The nature of work for many technical communicators is changing so

                        rapidly that many now perform an entire task set that they did not even

                        know about five years ago (p. 51).

 

But evolving to keep up with the changing technology should be common sense, and Saul Carliner provides a chapter on history (just to show how fast technology has changed when companies, seeking higher profits use user input to create the desires of the customer – custom corporate software, better online help, easier desktop publishing, etc. By evolving, companies and people have saved money and time, which is usually one of the main goals of nearly everyone. And as for me, my goals are to learn FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Illustrator, because I missed out on getting my resume read by hiring managers in the technical communications field because I did not have experience in those tools. I, too, must evolve.

 

            Must play well with others.

 

Life would be great if everyone played nice and worked well together, and working well with others is an important soft skill that many people lack, especially for those technical communicators who have been working alone for so long. But in today’s technical communicators’ work places, it is necessary to work with others to gather information and for review. As Spilka states,

 

                        [W]hat seems most critical and meaningful is how we can contribute to

                        social, team, or collaborative efforts toward the greater good of large

                        scale projects…Our work is also more like than before to be

                        international scope (p. 5).

 

Thus, to be a desirable technical communicator, one of the main skills is knowing how to work in a team. By helping co-workers in a timely manner, work can be fun, enjoyable, and a success. As a valued part of the team, the technical writer may learn additional skills and be wanted for further projects, which new skills may be needed, so it would be a great opportunity to evolve again. That is why I would suggest to anyone in this field to always take a chance to learn something new. Take on a more challenging project to increase your knowledge and skills.

 

All in all, so far, I learned from this book that one must not be afraid of the latest technologies, and they should evolve by trying to learn how the latest technologies can benefit themselves and their work places. Besides learning the forever-changing technology tools, methods, theories, and etc., it is also important to know how to work with others, as most projects will involve many people who will be working on the same project, and the technical communicator will need to gather information, and give and receive feedback on the project, so that the project is a success. And if the project turns out not to be successful, have a drink, think about what could have been done to have made it successful, and then try it again next time. With that, you are evolving. Start your evolution now.

 

 

Resources:

Dicks, R. (2010). The Effects of Digital Literacy on the Nature of Technical Communication Work In R. Spilka (Ed.), Digital Literacy For Technical Communication (p. 51). New York, NY: Routledge.

Carliner, S. (2010). Computers and Technical Communication (Ed.), Digital Literacy For Technical Communication (p. 5). New York, NY: Routledge.

Spilka, R. (2010). Introduction In R. Spilka (Ed.), Digital Literacy For Technical Communication (p. 5). New York, NY: Routledge.

 

Posted on September 27, 2015, in Blogs, Digital, Literacy, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think you identified two great take aways from the Spilka’s reading- evolution and playing well with others. I also found his quote about technical communicators performing tasks we did not even know about five years ago thought provoking. In a sense, what he is saying is that we have to be prepared to expect the unexpected.

    Its interesting to think about the work we presently do becoming obsolete as technology evolves. Currently, my scope of work concerns email and it made me wonder how much longer email’s lifespan will be. Is it a form of communication that will continue to evolve, or is there an expiration date in sight? While I don’t know the answer to these questions, this idea is both scary and exciting because of the prospects the future may hold.

  2. Greetings, Greetings!

    Evolution is an interesting thought as it comes to technical communication. As you summarized your view of the book and the effectiveness of the design and layout, I essentially do the same thing for just about everything I read. I personally agree that how a message is crafted can make or break a communication. Can it reach the targeted audience? Does it touch them in a way that makes them want to read above everything else they are inundated with?

    One of the things I often struggle with is 1) getting people to understand the value in designing our communication so it is effective, 2) having the skills to use the software to effectively design communication, and 3) ensuring we do in fact have the right communication channels (i.e. e-mail is not always the best channel to send a communication).

    I think what we are really finding is so true to what Dicks referred to in the rapid change of our role as technical communicators. Because there are so many available channels, it is driving this need for new skills – leading to this new task set that Dicks identified.

    There are only so many degrees I can afford to get, but the more and more I get into technical communication, the more I feel I need to go back to get “schooled” in graphic design so I have some type of professional training in that field.

    Chelsea

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