The Sky Is Falling!

I feel like Chicken Little. I’ve been clucking about the radical changes heading toward the Technical Writing profession for as long as I’ve been in the field. For the past 15 years, I’ve been alerting teams about changes heading their way. I’ve been spurring them on to make the necessary preparations.


In the 1990s, I was clucking about single-sourcing. I spent the next decade clucking at teams to move to XML. And this past year, I’ve been clucking about how Social Media is just about to completely change the entire techcomm game. This change is bigger. This time, it’s more than a change in tools or data formats. This change completely alters the way we approach our profession. We will move from simply providing information into a role in which we exchange and enhance that information.

But we technical writers have been doing the same general tasks for a long time: gathering requirements and specs, creating content, shipping it, and moving on to the next release. It’s difficult to move away from such an established routine. So I’m aware that many technical writers have yet to experience any change to their day-to-day work due to social media. And, as such, many will say If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But before we dismiss social media as a passing fad that isn’t big enough to touch Technical Writing, let me show you one picture.

The following image shows the growth of social media for a single 24-hour period (June 10, 2010).

Social Media Growth in ONE day (6/10/10)

After the implications of this image sink in, I entreat you to also click the link below and watch the growth fly by in realtime:

Real Time Social Media Counter

You may want to also click through the Day, Month and Year columns, to get the full picture.

I was astounded. Yes, the sky is falling. The world is changing faster than we are. We must adapt or we will disappear. I care about our profession. I love us. (I LOVE us!) I want us to lead the way. We can. We’ve got the writing chops. We’ve got skills. It’s time to engage.

I want to open the comments by asking, “What are your technical writers doing today to listen to your customers?’

3 Responses to “The Sky Is Falling!”

  1. Excellent except the comment box has very faint borders, lol.

    I am working on some new threads dealing with the info immersion, speed and how we are dealing with all these issues, or trying to. That link re the Social Media side brings the point home dynamically. Bravo!.

  2. Thank you, Ed. As always, your partnership in this mission brings a spring to my step. I look forward to your content on the information immersion.

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