This week, I attended a STC panel concerning trends in technical communication. It’s something that I’ve been considering a lot lately as I near the end of my college experience and look toward what’s ahead.
In The Future of the Professions, authors Susskind & Susskind identify three ways it’s worthwhile to attempt to predict the future of technology. Two of these three ways include following existing and emerging technologies, and identifying overall direction and general trends in technology.
Transition to a Technology-Based Internet Society
The panelists frequently discussed the trend of anticipating users’ needs. We are living in an increasingly on-demand society. NEST, the learning thermostat, was brought up by the panelists. This thermostat learns the users’ habits and adjust temperature without the users having to do it themselves. Similarly, if you do a google search for “rain boots”, you might start seeing ads on websites for rain boots afterwards. This learning and anticipating of user habits and needs is something that should be considered in the future of technical communication, because this is an identifiable trend that is shown throughout existing and emerging technologies today. Of course, this is only one trend out of many, but it’s one that I thought was critical especially considering the increasingly technology-based Internet society that Susskind & Susskind describe.
The panel discussion led me to think about an article I’ve read recently. In“Beyond TC- the Future of Technical Communication”, Joe Gollner describes a case study in which a technical communication group using outdated software adjusted to new tools, techniques, and standards. In the final stages of the case study, Gollner noted that “Members of the technical communication team were now recognized across the organization as specialists in not only communicating but also doing so using the latest in digital technology to reach customers and partners. The future demanded that the whole organization shift to a posture of digital collaboration and it was obvious that management would bring these questions to the technical communication team.” It is crucial to be prepared during our transition from a paper-based to a tech-based Internet society, and as technical communicators, it may be expected that we are at the forefront of this transition.
Words of Advice
Always remember to think ahead and be ready to adapt.
Gollner, Joe. “Beyond TC – the Future of Technical Communication.” Tcworld May 2014: n. pag. Web.
Susskind, Richard, and Daniel Susskind. The Future of the Professions. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015. Web.