(Non)predictions for 2012

Alan Pringle / Humor14 Comments

With 2011 waning, people are contemplating what 2012 will bring for technical communication. Our profession is changing rapidly, so intelligent conversations about the future of tech comm are essential.

All that smart talk has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

Instead, prepare to be underwhelmed by my lack of precognition as I offer these humble (non)predictions for 2012:
Fortune teller in the Musee Mecanique (San Franscisco)

  1. A tech comm team without any budget will implement DITA because it’s “free”—and will spend countless hours configuring (and complaining about) the PDF plugin in the DITA Open Toolkit.
  2. A technical writer (not communicator) will lose respect by demanding it.
  3. An IT department will insist that SharePoint is suitable for managing modular XML content.
  4. If there is a new release of FrameMaker, it will have some promising features—and at least one (non)feature that causes long-time users to howl obscenities.
  5. A tech comm team will have their request to implement <shiny new tool or technology> rejected because they offer no business case for the change.
  6. There will be lengthy discussions about punctuation consistency within online help that nobody reads because better information is in unofficial forums riddled with, punctuation inconsistencies.
  7. Technical writers will cry, “I just want to write!” when faced with the task of compiling metrics that could ultimately justify their jobs.
  8. A consultant or XML tool vendor will shamelessly peddle DITA as the cure-all for tech comm ills.

  9. A fervent supporter of a particular tool or technology will take criticism of said tool or technology as an ad hominem attack. (Blame Sarah O’Keefe for this prediction.)
  10. An article about the power of online media will be distributed in print and a three-column PDF file. (Please mail your comments to Simon Bate.)
  11. I will write a blog post with nearly toxic levels of snark. (Mission accomplished, and it’s not even 2012 yet!)

What does your crystal ball have to say about 2012? Leave your (non)predictions in the comments section. The person who posts the best (worst?) prediction will receive a free EPUB version of Scriptorium’s State of Structured Authoring report, which sells for $49.99. The contest will close on Thursday, December 8, and I’ll contact the winner the next day.

About the Author

Alan Pringle


Content strategy consulting. Publishing (electronic and print). Eating (preferably pastries and chocolate). COO at Scriptorium.

14 Comments on “(Non)predictions for 2012”

  1. An influential project manager will resist the mere mention of structured authoring because, y’know, we can’t force writers to give up their creative freedom. It’s socialism, is what it is.

  2. A techcomm team will be replaced by a cheaper source because they could not articulate the business case/ROI for knowledge management of quality user-facing information.

  3. A tech writer will say that they are waiting for the XML tools to be mature before adopting structured writing, by which they will mean they are waiting for them to work just like FrameMaker.

  4. Take terminology management seriously now that the company is selling worlwide in multiple languages, has outsourced some/all product development to suppliers and whose documents need to be rewritten, and globally dispersed teams means we’ve now two versions of English as well as Chinglish, franglais and Dunglish in the docs? Nah! Let’s discuss line spacing in the templates again.

  5. Vendors who have made $$$ on the donated effort of the DITA Technical Committee and the DITA Open Toolkit will fix and document the DITA-OT PDF plugin.

  6. A tech writer will insist that his or her tool, CMS, or solution (structured or otherwise) is the wave of the future and the answer to every writer’s and product’s tech comm needs.

  7. A major new user-facing software project will be launched without scheduling the content team’s time. Odds are it will be “Agile.” Further odds are that the content team will learn of it 2 weeks before launch. Everyone involved will be mystified as to how this happened.

    1. Bonni, you’re the winner of the (non)predictions contest! (Not sure if I should offer congratulations, though!) Expect to get an email from me with a copy of our structured authoring survey report attached.

  8. Executives from various companies will have meetings about content strategy and will chant “optimize the content!”
    1. Meeting concludes; self-applause given.
    2. Executives give each other raises upon exiting meeting room.
    3. Executives dock subordinates for failure to optimize content.

  9. A TechComm department will switch from FrameMaker to XML and CMS, based on the business case that it will save money and make the department more efficient. Based on this expectation, enough writers will be ‘let go’ to equal the cost of the new system. Hilarity will ensue.

  10. A company will seek to provide clear, accurate, and complete documentation for its product or service, with the goal of improving the user experience and minimizing costly support calls.

    Said company will advertise for and interview technical writers. One of the candidates will exclaim “I’m not a technical writer, I’m a business problem solver!”.

    The interviewer will chuckle silently while showing this candidate the door. And the company will hire the professional they need, a technical writer.

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