There’s one thing I didn’t say about technical communication in my first post. But it’s every bit as important as what I did say.
Technical communication has to have value.
I’m talking about bottom-line business value. Too many, both inside and outside the profession, regard it as if its value is intrinsic — as if tech comm is just good in some touchy-feely way. I confess there’ve been times I wished that were so. But today’s business world doesn’t give out a Miss Congeniality prize. The only prize is for return on investment.
That shouldn’t bother us as much as it does. Aren’t we trying to provide value to our customers? And if we succeed, doesn’t that mean they’ll want to do business with the companies that employ us?
Alan Pringle argues that accurate, accessible, and intelligent trump any stylistic or artistic “perfection” we might attain in our writing. He’s absolutely right.
Most of all, technical communicators should recognize the value they provide, and they should command the same kinds of wages as the engineers and programmers they work with. The extent to which we don’t command those kinds of wages testifies to the fact that, far too often, neither we nor the people who hire us appreciate the value we provide.