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Subject:names? From:Charles Sides <csides -at- FSCVAX -dot- FSC -dot- MASS -dot- EDU> Date:Thu, 6 Oct 1994 16:05:13 EST
For anyone interested in forecasting the future, here are a few questions:
1. What set of skills are most valuable to you today?
2. What set of skills will be most valuable 10+ years from now?
3. If multimedia reaches a stage where it occupies a growing amount
of technical writers' time, what should we call ourselves?
Now, why am I asking these things?
Our department is in the process of re-evaluating the curriculum we offer
to students, and we are becoming more convinced that multimedia will be
necessary for graphics majors, video majors, photography majors, and
tech writing majors. So . . . we could easily pile our four multimedia
courses into each of these majors, but multimedia seems at present also to
be a separate and distinct profession. So . . . we could keep the courses
separate as a major/concentration unto itself. But from still another
viewpoint, multimedia can be seen as a communications _tool_ rather than
profession--much like desktop publishing. As such, it falls into the
technical communicator's domain. If that is the case, what do we call
ourselves? Technical writer seems much too limiting, and the Society
for Technical Communication reflects this with annual contests in technical
art, graphics, video, etc.
To add to the confusion, I recently saw a job ad that sought a person
skilled in usability testing, task analysis, storyboards, focus groups,
style guides, walk-through analysis and design. Sounds like a tech
writer to me. The ad called it a "human factor engineer." This
strikes me about as pretentious as calling ourselves information archi-
tects. And how do any of these less than satisfactory names (tech
writer included) recruit students to colleges?
Feel free to send them to me off the list, if you wish.
Charles Sides csides -at- fscvax -dot- fsc -dot- mass -dot- edu