Trends for Technical Communicators

Subject: Trends for Technical Communicators
From: "Larry Kunz ((919) 254-6395)" <ldkunz -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 13:36:33 EST

On 4 Mar 1996, Kent Newton <KentN -at- METRIX-INC -dot- COM> listed the "core
skills" of our profession: curiosity, researching, organization,
writing, designing. I don't know if Kent's list is exactly right,
but it's darned good, and it'll do for the purposes of this
discussion.

I see two divergent trends:

1. Increasingly, the most successful technical communicators are the
ones who've mastered the core skills.

2. Increasingly, clients and employers -- the people on whom we
depend for our livelihoods -- either take the core skills for
granted or don't care very much about them. They want to know if
you can use FrameMaker, or Ventura, or whatever, and how fast you
can do the job.

To resolve the discrepancy, I see another trend:

3. Increasingly, technical communicators must strive to prove their
value, demonstrating how a top-notch communicator saves a company
money in reduced service calls, improved customer satisfaction,
and so forth.

Other trends I see:
- More telecommuting (a two-edged sword: you'll routinely bid for
jobs clear across the country -- and compete against rivals from
clear across the country, too)
- Ongoing interest in credentialing, either by certification or
some other means
- Emphasis on visual literacy (Sue Gallagher already mentioned this)
- A blurring of the line between MarCom and traditional technical
communication (Bill Sullivan hinted at this)

Larry Kunz
STC Assistant to the President for Professional Development
ldkunz -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com


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