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In the Goldilocks Zone: Where content and its creators are valued

If you're an astronomy buff like I am, you're excited by the news that scientists have found a planet smack in the middle of the "Goldilocks Zone": not too big, not too small; not too hot, not too cold. Named Kepler-22b, the planet has enough earth-like attributes that life could very well exist there.

Here at the SDI observatory, located atop the gleaming 73-story SDI skyscraper, we've had our super telescope trained on Kepler-22b for some time. We've found that life does indeed exist there. Not only that, Kepler-22b is identical in every way to earth with one exception: on Kepler-22b, everyone recognizes the value of technical communication.

What does this mean in a practical sense?

  • On Kepler-22b, business leaders understand that well-written, audience-appropriate technical content can be a differentiator in the marketplace.
  • Technical communication is an integral part of every project plan.
  • Content is treated as a business asset: in the Kepler-22b language it's grammatically impossible for "content strategy" and "Meh" to appear in the same sentence.

As a result of all this, technical communicators on Kepler-22b are treated like rock stars. Rather than the Kardashians, it's technical communicators who have feature articles in the Kepler-22b equivalent of People magazine. They often appear on the Kepler-22b equivalent of Dancing with the Stars1. And employers don't expect them to list tools on their resumes.

I think I'd enjoy living on Kepler-22b. Too bad it's 600 light years away. Back here on earth, what can we do to make things more like they are on Kepler-22b?

1You should see some of the dance moves they have on Kepler-22b.

Photo source: stock.xchng

About the Author

Larry Kunz

Larry Kunz is a project manager and information architect with SDI with more than 30 years’ experience as a writer, manager, and planner. He has experienced the transition from book-based documentation to today's integrated delivery of information both as a writer and a manager. Larry is a Fellow in the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and in 2010 received the STC President’s Award for leading the Society's strategic planning effort.

Posted in: Global Solutions
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011 1:55 PM
As technical writers, or whatever we're called this week, we need to respect ourselves and value the work that we do before we will get respect on any planet. If we could just act excited about creating content that helps people get things done, we'd go a long way to getting the respect that you posit for Kepler-22b. Technical stuff is cool to write about. That's why I became a tech writer. Technical writing is not just some way to get paid for writing while you write your great science fiction novel. If civil engineers thought that way, a lot more bridges would fall down.
Larry Kunz
Tuesday, December 06, 2011 2:27 PM
Janet, I can't agree more with your assertion that we have to respect ourselves and our work before others will perceive us as having value. In the last few years, especially in the current tough economy, I've seen a shaking-out: many of those who don't respect the work are no longer in the profession.

However, there are some who've hunkered down with this attitude: "I'm just a writer. Don't tell me about respecting the work or diversifying my skills or anything like that. I'm only here to earn a wage." Would you say that this attitude, even if it's held by only a minority, is pulling the whole profession down? If so, what can we do to change the situation?
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