Tag Archives: media

Wholesale returns of conjecture

A new year has dawned and, once again, we’re hearing a lot about trends and about how things will look in the future.

I hold with what Mark Twain said about spotting and predicting trends:

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. (from Life on the Mississippi)

If Twain were alive today, I think he’d raise an eyebrow at some things that are being touted as surefire trends. Continue reading

Halfway there: Technical communication trends in the 2010s

In a couple of weeks we’ll have reached the midpoint of a decade. Five years ago we turned our calendars to 2010, and five years from now¬†we’ll stand at the threshold of 2020.

crystal ballIt’s fun to look back five years (which is, of course, an eternity in Internet time) and see what people were predicting for the new decade. What changes, and what new opportunities, would the 2010s bring for technical communicators?

One pundit predicted that we’d see credentialing or certification: “As technical communicators vie to prove their value, I expect increased interest in finding ways to differentiate ourselves in the job market….Perhaps there’ll be a PMP-like course for content strategists or information architects.”

Oops. While STC did launch a certification program a couple of years ago, they put it on ice when demand didn’t match expectations. Now nobody is talking about certification, as far as I can tell.

So what knucklehead made that prediction? That would be me.

Fortunately, I did better at spotting some other trends. Continue reading

What is truth?

An elderly Groucho Marx recounted a story that happened in a Texas town during the Marx Brothers’ early days in show business.

In Raised Eyebrows,, the memoir by Groucho’s secretary Steve Stoliar, a member of the luncheon party responded, “According to Harpo’s book, that story took place in Oklahoma, not Texas. Who’s right?”

Grouch said, “I am, because I’m alive and he’s not.”

Thus we get a lesson in the elusive nature of truth. Continue reading