I was flattered that my post Technical Communication is not a Commodity was used as a catalyst for Scott Abel’s discussion with Val Swisher, Jack Molisani and Sarah O’Keefe on The Changing Face of Technical Communications, What’s Next? I had a fair amount to say in the comment stream that followed to defend my assertion that Tech Comm is indeed not a commodity, but since then a few other interactions have convinced me that there is another important trend in tech comm that should be recognized: the growing segmentation of the field.
Are structured writing and crowd-sourced content on divergent paths, or can you have both? It’s a pretty hot topic right now. Sarah O’Keefe recently tweeted:
Must push XML and structure out to masses and need better tools for that
Linda Urban recently tweeted this:
@finiteattention: The problems of crowdsourced user assistance: http://xkcd.com/979 #ua #techcomm
And most recently, Tom Johnson has blogged about Wiki Culture, Reader/Writer Distinctions, and Divergence from Structured Authoring. No surprise that this is a concern, since structured writing and wikis are two of the hottest trends in technical communication at the moment.