“Push me, Pull me” dilemma for technical authors

There are a number of posts on various Blogs, at the moment, concerning documents as conversation and moving beyond the traditional manual. Some of the comments suggest implicitly  that technical authors (aka technical writers) could end up having to resolve two conflicting views regarding communicating with users. 

The problem is that many technical communicators work in hierarchical organisations where “authority” is key. Staff (and users asking for support) are expected to follow.

However, many parts of Web-based content are not based on authority or hierarchy. It’s a network, collaborative in nature.

For an organisation with a “behind the firewall” culture – protect your intellectual property, no access to Facebook etc – that’s a really alien way of thinking.

So many technical communicators – particularly those working in large traditional companies – might, in the near future, have to deal with two different and opposing “Weltanschauungen” (viewpoints).

It may be a tension that will never go away. I hope a compromise can be reached. I think it’s possible there will be mediated/edited comments and conversations of certain topics within an overall user assistance solution.

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