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Did 11 September Change Our Profession?

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Like images out of a nightmare, the video footage of two jetliners hitting the World Trade Center's twin towers replays in my mind. The impacts, the fireballs, the realization that hundreds of people died instantly—and then the catastrophic collapses that killed thousands more who were unable to escape or had rushed to rescue those who were trapped. The only words that seem adequate are those of Joseph Conrad's character Kurtz in The heart of darkness: "The horror! The horror!"

The expressions of sympathy I received in the days following the attacks heartened me, although no one I knew had been directly affected. A colleague from Russia wrote about a memorial service he had attended on the street outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow. A former student from Israel shared his thoughts about living with the threat of terrorism. And the dozens of American flags I saw flying at half staff while on vacation in Ireland in late September told me in ways that words never could of humankind's solidarity in the face of this horror.

Cataclysm invites contemplation. I have no doubt that the events of 11 September 2001 changed millions of people to an extent that we probably don't yet appreciate. Most of us will never board a plane again without at least a brief thought about the doomed jets that became weapons of terror on that beautiful September morning. Many of us who have family or friends in the armed forces will worry for a long time about whether those loved ones will come in harm's way before the war against terrorism is over.

So it is natural to ask how the events of 11 September will affect our profession in the months and years ahead.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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