On Oct. 25, 2007 at the Techmart in Santa Clara, the STC Silicon Valley Chapter held a panel discussion on the future of technical communication. The panel consisted of IBM’s Andrea Ames, Synergistech’s Andrew Davis, BitZone’s Viki Maki and moderated by DJ Cline.
Here are a few points:
1. Get technical. Keep up on the latest developments in the field you want to work. Start writing about them.
2. Get savvy. Know the companies, their products and markets. Know which company’s stock is down or involved in a lawsuit. Be aware of planned mergers or consolidations.
3. Get freaky. Don’t be a commodity. You can’t think outside the box sitting in a cube. Build a unique set of skills and experience that will stand out from the crowd. If you find your calling and do it well, people will be looking for you.
4. Get visible. Volunteer in organizations or on projects that companies sponsor or are involved in. Get seen getting something done. Build relationships based on trust and reliability.
5. Get flexible. Expect change and plan for it. Expect to travel. Get a passport. Get used to sharing documents and collaborating on diverse teams. The days of technical communicators working like Medieval monks carefully scripting illuminated manuscripts for a chosen few are gone. Expect to have your work sliced and diced into a thousand digital pieces and read not just by engineers but the general public.
6. Get ready. The future of technical communication will follow the trends in technology. This means more opportunity in green tech, nanotech, mobile and wireless, user interfaces and virtual reality. It means new learning new tools to create the content that people will want instantly.
The future isn’t worth waiting for, it’s worth planning for.
Copyright 2007 DJ Cline All rights reserved.