April 1st, 2009


(no subject)

The most recent issue of intercom (the magazine of the Society for Technical Communication) has an article titled "Adapt or Die", which contains this striking statement from Emma Hamer (I've trimmed it a bit in the middle where the ellipsis is, but I've done my best not to distort the meaning):

One of the most significant trends in the profession is the shift from unstructured to structured authoring...Yet early research indicates that approximately 1 in 5, perhaps even 1 in 4, people currently working as technical communicators will not be able to grasp the concepts of structured authoring.

First, a peeve: Having printed this startling assertion, did intercom provide any sort of citation so that we could go look at this early research for ourselves? No. I'm going to do a bit of searching later, and see if I can turn something up.

Second, does anyone find it ironic that a profession that specializes in understanding and communicating unfamiliar concepts is allegedly facing a situation where as much as 1/4 of its work force may be left behind because they can't understand a new set of concepts?

Speaking as someone who is in the midst of transitioning from unstructured to structured authoring, I can vouch for its representing a huge conceptual shift. It's changing my job in all kinds of interesting ways, and some of them have not been easy to adapt to. Still, I find the blanket statement that some technical communicators "will not be able to grasp the concepts of structured authoring" startling. I pretty much believe that anyone can learn anything with sufficient motivation and a good teacher. Keeping your job is pretty good motivation. Maybe it's the teachers that are lacking?