The future of our profession & "Future Shock"

Subject: The future of our profession & "Future Shock"
From: "USA::MU17692" <MU17692%USA -dot- decnet -at- USAV01 -dot- GLAXO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 08:40:00 EST

Bill Horton was the keynote speaker at the STC Region 2
conference last Saturday, here in Research Triangle Park, NC.
As some of you know, Bill is renowned for his work with online

Bill's discussion about the future of our profession leads off
with an animated sequence in which a stick figure is run down
on the "Information Superhighway." The stick figure apprently
represents technical communicators who are unprepared to deal
with the rapid changes in the technical communication profession.

As the Job Bank Manager for the Carolina Chapter, and as someone
with a passion for state-of-the-art computer equipment, I stand
on the front line of the changes many of us face, the kind which
Bill Horton talks about.

Alvin Toffler also has a lot to say about the changes we face.
In 1970, Toffler published a book titled, "Future Shock." I
read this book about nine months ago, and now I'm reading it
again. Toffler is remarkably prescient, especially considering
that we wrote his book before the advent of the personal

Technical communicators should read Toffler's book to get a
better understanding of the environment in which we live. For
example, he predicted the stratification of relationships along
functional rather than geographic lines--and he never saw the
Internet! He predicted the tremendous increase in the use of
temporary/contract labor. He predicted the increase in social
breakdown as people are less and less equipped to deal with the
accelerated rate of change. He predicts, in a general way, the
battle we have with our VCRs and microwaves. But most
importantly, he provides an underlying explanation for all of
his predictions. In fact, he does not set out to make
predictions. He intends to explain the concept of "future shock"
and in so doing makes predictions.

If there is any doubt in your mind about the validity of "future
shock" ask someone who have just been laid off from IBM after
20 years there and ask them how they're doing in their new
career. The future is often vicious, very unforgiving, and yes,
a shock.

-Mike Uhl (uhl~m -at- glaxo -dot- com)
Glaxo Inc. Research Institute
Research Triangle Park, NC

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