Are Technical Communicators Obsolete?

Carl Carlheim-Gyllensköld

Carl Carlheim-Gyllensköld

Senior Technical Communicator at Semcon
Carl Carlheim-Gyllensköld is based in Stockholm and loves to create with technology. For the last decade, he has worked as a technical communicator for many different customers in various industries, including industrial tools, mining or robotics. His work has given him great experience in presenting technology to a wide variety of target groups, always focusing on the end user.
Carl Carlheim-Gyllensköld

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Is it old-fashioned to be a technical communicator? Will this profession be replaced? And how important can content creation be if the world wide web is flooded by all kind of contents? Carl Carlheim-Gyllensköld gave this matter some thoughts.

I  love to write.

I love to understand and describe technology, all kinds of technology. I’m not alone. The Internet is flooded with how-tos, guides, instructions, forums and DIY. Everyone is a true nerd, an expert in what they love, and they want to share their love and knowledge.

I’ve given our role as technical communicators in this context a lot of thought. If everybody writes for free, why should we as technical communicators exist? What added value do we create? Why should a company use us when they can get information for free from the users?

Luckily, I think I’ve come up with an answer. We, as technical communicators, are trained to think systematically, we reuse information, we can handle complex systems for information and we know how to focus on the user. Also, we are part of the development process from the outset and get access to the product long before the users do. However, there’s a downside of being stuck in the early development process. I often find that the technical communicators are too far away from the customer. We work close together with the engineer or developer, but there are several steps until the company meets the product user.

I truly believe that we need to interact and work closer with our customers. One way is to tap into the ocean of free information created by them. We need to start communicating! People love it when you listen to them and give them credit duly. As a bonus this will tie the user more closely to the company. A win-win!

My conclusion is that our role as technical communicators must shift from being only producers of information, to also becoming moderators of information and communicators.

Want to get inspired? Check out the following sites:

  • instructables.com: community with a colourful mixture of wonder from around the world (instructions, new products ..)
  • ifixit.com: free repair guide for all kind of technical products
  • wikihow.com: a worldwide collaboration to teach anyone how to do anything
  • makezine.com: a community of innovators and developer who share what they can do
  • stackoverflow.com: a platform of 7.3 million programmers who help each other

 

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