Thursday, March 31, 2005


Information Design STC SIG - rechartering input

I think the Information Design area is critical to the transformation that STC and the technical writing profession is undergoing. STC President Andrea Ames' references to the commoditization of writing, and the insights we get from the work of people like Barbara Giammona* are important foundations for the conversation. At the risk of stating the obvious, the changes to the profession are tied to the larger changes that have previously affected manufacturing and coders. And it won't be enough to simply be project managers interacting with work outsourced or moved to company facilities in other countries. A recent issue of Businessweek Magazine (March 21) devoted the bulk of the issue to outsourcing and offshoring moving up the development value chain to what was thought to be a domestic stronghold: design. The challenge to the profession is providing unique value add.

But it's not all gloom and doom. That same issue issue has an editiorial which is worth reading in its entirity (Getting An Edge On Innovation) that contains this enticing passage:
And far more people should be graduated in the "soft" sciences of anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Whether it's redesigning hospitals to improve patient stays (and lower costs) or building stores to increase the experience of shopping (and raise profits), more of these "right brain" people will be needed. Many of the best jobs in the future will be found in the sweet spot where design, customer understanding, and emerging technologies come together for

In there, along with other recent writing about the value of right-brain tendencies, is the germ of the definition for information design in this globalized, connected world.

*Barbara Giammmona, "The Future of Techical Communication," Technical Communication, 31:3, August 2004.

This text is an edited version of part of my response to an open request to the STC membership from Ann L. Wiley for feedback on rechartering the Information Design SIG.

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