Effects and implications of changing approaches to information on technical communication

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2011-05

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Abstract

The ways that individuals take advantage of information and communication technologies are leading to new approaches to both information and communication. Recent technological developments, such as cellular phones and wireless-broadband internet are being used to provide instant access to information and networks, allowing users to satisfy their needs or desires almost immediately and from almost any location. More specifically, shifting approaches to information have encouraged a new kind of rapid meaning making in physical and digital spaces that differs in fundamental ways from the sort of quickly-formed view of the world that television and radio brought. Who is producing and distributing this information is of primary concern to technical communicators because amateurs and uninformed users now have access to the same networks, and content production and distribution methods as professionals.

Parallel to individuals’ decentralized and true-enough information approaches are concerns over the position of credentialed knowledge workers to information spaces, communities, and cultures, and concerns over new relationships between quality and speed. Due to the growing scale of new approaches to information, the field of technical communication is now faced with a crisis best articulated by one significant question: how do growing trends of personal agency and self-service in technologized societies affect technical communication as a discipline, and individual approaches to knowledge and authority? While the reliability and ethos of professional technical communicators can largely mitigate the threat of untrained, uncredentialed users who have the ability to develop and distribute technical information freely, social networks can contribute to the crisis through striking much of the authority from technical communicators who do not work to form strong or functional identities in those spaces.

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Keywords

Social media, Social networking, Information, Knowledge, Technical communication, Telecommunications, Mobile computing

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