Four stories about the future - Exploring possible futures for the technical writer in a collaborative media landscape

University essay from Malmö högskola/Fakulteten för kultur och samhälle (KS)

Abstract: As a technical writer I have come to see that the collaborative media landscape has started to change the way many B2C companies work with support information. It is companies producing software based consumer products that has taken the lead in this new way of approaching the customers. More and more companies in other product segments are starting to go in the same direction. But what happens to the technical writer when more and more customers are creating their own support information? The death of the technical writer has been proclaimed for several years. It is no wonder that one asks: What is the future role of the technical writer facing the challenges with collaborative media? That is also the research question for this thesis.To investigate this I have experimented with a method called scenario planning and scenario writing. In order to get a well-grounded base of trends to create the scenarios from I’ve concluded a rigorous empirical base. The following methods where used: In-depth interviews with practitioners in the technical writer field Content analysis of a support forum Email interviews with frequent forum users.It was clear that when implementing new media structures it also involves new challenges. These challenges could potentially also lead to new roles for the technical writer. The challenges I consider to be most important were; trust, transparency, motivation and information overload. To facilitate those needs and challenges roles like community manager, content curator and content strategist are needed.With those roles in mind I created four scenarios. Each with a different take on collaborative media (and one that actually ignored this emerge). The names of the scenarios are: The outcasts The insider matter Sharing is caring The third player

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