What is technical communication

Technical communication has a vast platter of definitions that one serving is not enough. As a student in Technical Communications program in Seneca College (Seneca@York campus), the goal is (obviously) to be a technical communicator. Yet, when a friend or an acquaintance asks what is technical communication and what does a technical communicator do, I take a long pause. I struggle to put a definite, more comprehensible definition to what I will soon do. It's not a job where you say "nurse" or "teacher" or "dentist" and it is easily understandable. It is beyond "communicating technical stuff"—a description I often say in jest.

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Manage that knowledge: a techcommer's involvement

To understand KM, I have to refer to this website: http://choo.fis.utoronto.ca/KMfaq/. As a very (very!) honest individual, the concept of KM is still hazy. Clear as an unwashed glass full of grease and stains. As I continued reading the site, I noticed that most—if not all—of KM’s concepts parallel what I have been learning as a technical communicator. The site gives an overview of the difference between Information Management and Knowledge Management.

Information management is a prevalent concept in a techcommer’s life. Basing on Wikipedia’s definition
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_management), IM is collecting pieces of information from sources, managing it as content that would be distributed to various audiences. This is an essential work techcommers do. IM, according to http://choo.fis.utoronto.ca/KMfaq/, provides the foundation to KM, albeit having different focuses. In a way, techcommers are involved in establishing the needed “content” to build the needed framework for managing knowledge. Without this content, what would go in the KM system?

I would also like to point out the benefits of KM, and how these benefits reflect that of a techcommer’s involvement:

What are the Benefits of Knowledge Management?
Strategically speaking, there are four kinds of benefits from managing knowledge:
  1. Create new value through new products or services (innovations);
  2. Enhance current value of existing products (knowledge about customers);
  3. Reduce/avoid costs/promote reuse (knowledge about processes);
  4. Reduce uncertainty/increase speed of response (knowledge about the environment). (http://choo.fis.utoronto.ca/KMfaq/)

Techcommers nowadays are very involved in innovation. Anna Parker-Richards, instructor for TCN701 Technical Communicator class, drilled into us that techcommers are no longer delegated into just writing manuals or user guides, but involved in creating new services or products that benefit the users or customers. As she would always say, put on your “user hat” to know how to benefit them more. In TCN705 Information Technology, Pamela Kotsur gave lecture to us future techcommers on content management—one major benefit is to reduce costs for the company or organization.

As I have outlined, techcommers are experts in actually implementing these KM benefits.

Talking to a classmate, Elisa, she explained to me how KM worked in her previous work experience. Having never been in an organized work setting, I had a hard time comprehending her explanation. It was until I had to propose to her how I was understanding KM based from her descriptions: it is sort of a file cabinet where the knowledge content are organized. She was quite hesitant to approve of my analogy since KM works differently. However, it was the only way I could visualize KM. In the end, she said I could look at it that way, but she insisted that technical communicator are not directly involved in KM. Still  I argued that who are these "people" who put these "files" in the file cabinet? Are they not technical communicators?

Basing it on the little research I did on KM, the expertise of techcommers are needed in managing knowledge.

How are technical communicators involved in Knowledge Management?
  • TechCommers are learned experts in information technology and management needed to establish and design the needed framework for a KM system. 
  • TechCommers know how to implement the benefits KM provides.
  • TechCommers are the individuals needed to fill in the "KM-file cabinet" with the needed "files" or content.


I want to be there once more...

Kyoto, Japan 

@Heian Shrine

I want to see this one more time.

I'm in love with Kyoto.

I think I might've been born in Kyoto in my past life. I can feel the history flowing in my blood stream. When I was there last year... it felt like I have been there before; yet that was my first trip to Japan.