I like to say, at the beginning of every new year, welcome to the future.
2019, a brand new space with freshly waxed floors and newly painted walls, awaits our arrival. As we enter in, let’s look around for a moment. Let’s think about what we’ll make of the new year.
Our day in the sun
We’re uniquely positioned, Johnson said, to help our companies succeed by influencing the way they interact with customers and prospects. All because we bridge the gap between, on the one hand, products and technologies, and on the other hand, voice, branding, and messaging.
Pretty heady stuff! If Johnson is right, we technical communicators are about to have our day in the sun. Soon everyone in the organization will look up to us.
Back to earth
Yet, at the same time…
In so many of the major trends in content creation, it seems as if technical communicators are being overshadowed by other kinds of professionals.
API documentation is perhaps the fast-growing segment of technical content. Many of the people who create API documentation don’t consider themselves technical communicators.
Everyone’s talking about chatbots. Many of the people who create chatbots don’t consider themselves to be technical communicators.
User experience — UX — is in the spotlight as never before. Many of the people who design and create the UX don’t consider themselves to be technical communicators.
More people than ever are consuming visual communication, like videos and augmented reality. Many of the people who produce videos and AR don’t consider themselves to be technical communicators.
So what’s going on? Is that “linchpin” talk just an illusion? Are we being overshadowed, or pushed aside, by software developers? By UX specialists? By visual communicators?
A bug in our makeup? Not really
For as long as I can remember, technical communicators have battled an inferiority complex, yearning to be accepted as equals by other professionals. Have our hopes been in vain? Is there some kind of “bug” in our makeup that dooms us to second-rate status in the professional worlds that we inhabit?
No, and no.
What seems like a bug, you see, is really a feature.
At long last, technical communicators have left their cloister and become active, contributing members of countless other professional communities. The software-development community. The UX community. The visual-communication community.
We’ve made it. We’ve been accepted.
We’re not being overshadowed. We’re simply taking our place alongside professionals who have different — or more specialized — skills. In so doing, by applying our special perspectives and abilities, we enrich the work they produce.
Unlike Rex here, we technical communicators might never get a parade down Main Street. But we’ll get something better: the knowledge that we’re fully accepted in, and contributing to, the professional worlds we inhabit.
And that, as we stand at the threshold of 2019, is the future of technical communication.