I expect this announcement to create its own share of controversy. STC's top honor going to someone who cuts technical communicators out of the loop?
Well, we're out of the loop only if we choose to be out of the loop. One way to define Wikipedia is as a technology intervention to connect people with answers to people with questions. Sounds like technical communication to me. I think Wikipedia is an icon to where we are going as a profession: less about grammar and style guides and more about presenting information as performance support; less about creating content and more about orchestrating the distribution of that content.
It doesn't mean we will quit writing, quit editing, or quit publishing. It's just that like the passing of the literary clergy of days gone by, we are no longer the exclusive keepers of the book.
But just in case Wales' honor adds to your angst already brought on by offshore non-native writers, machine translators, mechanical spelling and grammar checkers, and you're wondering about the need for technical communicators--there are a few areas we can focus on that will let us add value above and beyond our commodities that are getting eroded:
- User analysis as problem analysis and information as performance/decision support, i.e., what does the user need to know in order to make an informed decision at this point in her work flow
- Dynamically generated user assistance (If Amazon.com can figure out my reading preferences and Google can guess what ads I'm most likely to respond to, why can't my Help track where my user has been, what system configurations she has set and give her tailored Help. Why does my Help say "If you are in Routing mode do this; if you are in Transparent mode do that." Why doesn't the application tell the Help what mode the user has configured and deliver a dynamic Help page that gives only the appropriate information?)
- Integrating our communication skills to improve the design and development process, as in use case development