At the coffee shop I'm hanging out at this afternoon, a rap song on the sound system tells me some things change and some things stay the same. It also tells me this is Africa, but I'm pretty sure I'm in downtown Lowell. Anyway, change and lack of change are with us all the time wherever we are. Why do somethings change and others not? What's this got to do with technical communication? Well, you guessed it, in techcomm some things change and some things remain the same.Was about to abandon it yet again when I noticed that some of the links being tweeted around today are from 2006 and 2008. Given that the world of #techcomm and social media changes every twenty minutes, what is up with recirculating stories from 3 or 5 years ago? I guess some things really do remain the same.
Computer Programming: Ten Skills Needed for Success from 2008 tackles the subject of learning new programming languages. With the exception of "top down thinking" and possibly "ability to read specifications" the list of skills pretty much still applies in 2011.
Technical writing: the new black gold of India from 2006 makes note of the boom in technical writing in India. How much has the tech writing field grown in India in the last 5 years? How much of that has been at the expense of tech writing jobs in the USA? Well, it's certainly still booming, still growing, according to Larry Kunz's blog post about the recent STC India Summit. It's hard to tell whether the boom in Indian techcomm is affecting the availability of tech writing jobs in the USA. Depending on which blogs or listserves I read, techcomm in the northeast corner of the USA is either going to hell in a handbasket, already deader than a door nail, or just fine thank you. The same sources seem to regard techcomm in Silicon Valley, Research Triangle, and everywhere but here as still going strong in terms of number of jobs, but stuck in the mud as far as tools and media.
So what's a tech writer to do? Learn Drupal? Become a master of Facebook and Twitter? Move to India? Move to Silicon Valley? Learn Joomla? Take up UX design? Set the way back machine to 1968? We will always need to learn knew skills and languages. We may need to move more often to follow the jobs. The main point is:
The future is now. We are here now. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.