Mindtouch has updated its list of the most influential Tech Comm experts, and I’m flattered once again to be on it. Especially when I find myself sandwiched between two of my favorite colleagues from the UK: David Farbey and Colum McAndrew.
My enthusiasm is tempered, however, because the list omits some pretty bright luminaries — people like Sharon Burton, Mark Baker, Danielle Villegas, and Julio Vazquez. By any measure, these people are influencers in Technical Communication.
Which leads to a couple of questions: How do you measure influence? And why don’t we do a better job of it?
They’re not idle questions. Google uses influence as a factor in its search rankings, and I believe that Mindtouch’s product does the same thing. So, in this era of collaboration, when content comes from all over, a lot rides on influence — or, more accurately, on perceived influence. It can decide whether your content rises to the top of the search-results page or gets lost below the fold.
First, I applaud Mindtouch for creating and curating this list — imperfect as it is. I’m not aware of anyone else skilled enough or courageous enough to compile and publish such a list. So I’m not picking on Mindtouch. I just wish the science of measuring influence were a little more fully developed.
Second, the science — as good as it gets — will never be perfect. Influence by its nature has a significant component that’s intangible and very human. The people who influence me most — those whose work I find witty and insightful — won’t always be the same people who influence you. Influence can never be measured purely in terms of statistics, and I can live with that.
What’s your take? How important is influence in developing and publishing content? Can we find a way to better measure it?
Postscript: Prompted by the Mindtouch rankings, David Farbey wrote an excellent article in which he raises broader questions about influence and the Tech Comm profession as a whole. I commend it to you.