Technical Communication Poll: The Impact of Emerging Technology

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”

                                                                           -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

2010-the-year-we-make-contact-9One of the best job titles I ever encountered is that of “Visual Futurist,” which I first saw in the credits of the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Visualizing a future, with a whole array of products and technology, and bringing them to life sometimes seems like the technical communicator’s ultimate dream. 2010 is long gone, and as far as I know we didn’t make contact, but it does seem as though a whole lot of that future is already here (or perhaps a few more months away.)  Profound change is a constant, and for those of us tasked with explaining its impacts, just getting  a handle on the basics can be a monumental challenge.

Last week we published our now annual list of predictions for technical communication in the new year. It included a list of some the emerging technology that will affect both what we communicate and how we communicate it. So this week our poll asks you which of these trends and emerging technologies will have the most profound effects on our jobs and the technical communication profession. Some like producing content for mobile devices, have already changed the titles and the job descriptions.  Others, like 3-D printing (Hey Trekkies, can you say starship replicators?) are just beginning to take off, and the direction we’ll head in is truly anyone’s guess.

Our poll lists only a couple, and you may think they all will profoundly affect our profession, or perhaps none of them will change things in any significant way.  And, just as likely, there’s something out there that we missed. We’d love to read your thoughts on what’s coming, what’s already here, and whether technical communication will have a role to play in bringing it to consumers everywhere. Or if you prefer, start a thread on our somewhat old-fashioned, but still highly relevant email discussion list. It’ll be an important, and fun, conversation to have.

What emerging technology or trend will change your content or processes most profoundly?

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Mark Baker

7 years ago

It seems to me that before we go chasing the latest emerging technology, we should get serious about adapting to the most important already-emerged technology: the Web. Understanding and writing for the Web as a hypertext medium (in which Every Page is Page One) should be the underpinning of any move to mobile. Figuring out ways to make your PDF look good on a phone screen is to miss the point in spectacular fashion.

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Jacquie Samuels

7 years ago

I really, really believe that gesture-control devices will revolutionize how we all work, users included. Mobile, ya sure, but it’s a mess.

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Jacquie Samuels

7 years ago

Agreed. Wholeheartedly.

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Tom Burns

7 years ago

I believe that data saturated 3D objects will be used to convey technical communication in the future. It is possible to get an idea how this will play out by looking at IKEA, which currently provides shoppers with 3D models to assist in their potential purchase. Also industrial manufacturers (look at traceparts.com) now provide their engineering customers with downloadable 3DCAD objects to add to other 3D objects in their design assemblies. Eventually these objects will contain rich metadata that will allow them to play a central part in Product Lifecycle Management systems. In addition to containing embedded technical information, these objects can also be used for visual expressions ranging from engineering drawings to photo-realistic promotional images and animations. Because of this ability to transmit a wide variety of technical information, data-saturated 3D objects will play an important part in tech comm.

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