A Note from the Editor

When I set up the editorial calendar for 2018, I wanted to kick off the year with a futuristic theme, and I wanted to wrap up the year with a report on the state of the industry. I believe that it’s important for us to stop and get a little introspective periodically. Often we get heads-down in our work and forget to look up and see what’s going on around us.

A review of the state of the industry gives us an opportunity to stop and see where we are, professionally as individuals and in organizations. When we know where we are, we can decide if we’re going where we want to go and at the right speed.

Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I believe this issue’s guest editor would agree.

Saul Carliner is a Professor of Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal, and a Fellow and Past President of STC. He was President of STC when I took on my first Society-level volunteer role, so we go back a long time (yes, decades). When, in our Intercom Editorial Advisory Panel meeting at the end of 2017, he said he’d like to administer and analyze a survey to feed this “state of the industry” issue, and that he’d like to guest edit the issue, I was thrilled.

What I didn’t realize was that he was planning to write all of the articles as well! He has almost singlehandedly brought this issue to life. He and Concordia University PhD student, Yuan Chen, administered the census, analyzed the results, created the charts from the data, and wrote the articles that explain the data.

I think you will find the results intriguing and perhaps a bit unsettling. I, for one, am glad—some discomfort with current circumstance is motivating. We should always be asking questions, analyzing our situation, and striving for more—in other words, living the examined life.

We also have three columns for you in this issue:

  • Cindy Currie and Kit Brown-Hoekstra give us their take on the essential technical communicator’s bookshelf and dispense invaluable management advice for those jumping back into the job market after a time away.
  • Tom Barker makes an excellent argument for group work and how it should be conducted in coursework.
  • Scott Abel very generously shares, in the spirit of this month’s theme, a high-level snapshot of findings from the annual Content Wrangler Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey.

And as always, don’t forget to check out the Society pages!

Saul Carliner, Yuan Chen, the columnists, and I would love to hear from you! We provide our email addresses so that you can get in touch. We would also love to discuss any articles with you online—did you know that you can comment on the Web version of any article? Start or join a conversation! I’ll be looking for you!

Until then, enjoy the issue!

— Andrea L. Ames


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