The early years, 1 Who: Mostly male, mostly trained as scientists or engineers What: Big publications departments in defense and aerospace companies When: 1950s-1985 (Cold War/Space Race) Where: Mostly in the U.S. Why: Writing proposals, reports, and procedures
The early years, 2 Time-consuming process of handwritten drafts, typescripts, art work specs, editorial and SME reviews, typesetting, and excruciating revisions and corrections Most publications produced by teams; well-defined career ladders Lots of (to us) unfamiliar equipment and tools
The computer revolution, 1 Who: Increasingly female with backgrounds in the humanities What: Computer hardware and software, and consumer electronics When: 1985-1995 Where: Mostly in the U.S. Why: Writing hardware and software user guides
The computer revolution, 2 Disappearance of secretaries and typing pools Keyboard skills essential Developing a comfort level with technology, up close and personal The concept of desktop publishing
TC as cottage industry, 1 Who: 70% female (2002), most with backgrounds in the humanities What: Computer hardware and software, and consumer electronics When: 1995-present Where: U.S., Europe, and Asia Why: Writing help and Web sites; increasing use of multimedia
TC as cottage industry, 2 Everyone their own writer/editor/ designer/illustrator Single ownership of projects Little coordination between projects Often literally cottage work
The problems we face Salaries account for increasing percentage of cost of publishing Relatively few with formal training in TC Emphasis on tools Corporate solutions: Offshoring Deprofessionalizing
Communication expertise Few technical communicators with formal training Extensive theory and research base Experience with procedures but often little knowledge of other genres Impact of single sourcing and shift away from hardware/software writing
Cognate expertise Related fields such as instructional design, cognitive psychology, human factors, usability, typography, and design Some formal knowledge of all Specialization in one or two
Subject domain expertise Increasing computer literacy Greater mastery of computing and business processes needed to support more sophisticated users Shift away from IT to other domains such as healthcare, finance, and security?
Management expertise Estimation and time management Budgeting, accounting, and market- ing Leadership, motivation, and inter- personal dynamics/communication
Information development and design Production assistant Information developer Expert information developer Information designer Project manager S. Carliner. 2001. Emerging skills in technical communication: The information designer’s place in a new career path for technical communicators. Technical communication 48:156-175.
Single sourcing Information designers Information architects Information technologists Information analysts M. J. Albers. 2003. Single sourcing and the technical communication career path. Technical communication 50:335-343.
Knowledge creation Help experts make tacit knowledge explicit Help design teams reach consensus about product design Create knowledge assets such as documents M. A. Hughes. 2002. Moving from information transfer to knowledge creation: A new value proposition for technical communicators. Technical communication 49:275-285.