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The Future Is the Past: Has Technical Communication Arrived as a Profession?

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This article examines the design and technology components of technical communication by investigating how practitioners imagine their work and the profession, specifically with respect to technology. In short, we wanted to interrogate the duality of “core design skills” and “technology skills” by asking practitioners to reflect both on the definition of technical communication and on the role technology plays in their work. We wanted to weigh claims that communication and rhetorical skills are important for success in the field against claims that knowledge of specific tools is likewise vitally important to success in the field. Technical communication historically has been characterized by a tension between employing sophisticated rhetorical and analytical skills to create effective communication at the same time that those skills relied on technology for their implementation and demonstration. Current technical communication practice is no different. Since past practice demonstrated this tension, and because our study of current practice suggests that technical communicators are both communicators and technologists, it seems reasonable to suggest that the future holds more of the same.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: 2005-08-01

More about this publication?
  • 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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