Doing Well by Doing Good

In the late 1930’s, two significant political figures discovered new technology.

At the time, the new technology was called Radio. And both of these political figures discovered, pretty much in parallel, its power and influence.

One of these figures was Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.
The other was New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

Joseph Goebbels speaking into the microphone
Joseph Goebbels, addressing Nazi Germany

Goebbels used the power of this new technology to disseminate his Big Lie during World War II.

Fiorello LaGuardia speaking on WNYC Radio
Fiorello LaGuardia talks to the people

La Guardia used it for his “Talk to the People” broadcasts, on New York City’s WNYC – where, much later, I had the privilege of being the FM programme manager.

We technical communicators discover new technologies daily as part of our work. What we communicate about those technologies, how we communicate about them, and how we use technologies that comprise our tools, all have an effect on the people who use the products of our work.

What we do is not socially, or ethically, neutral. That’s one of the things that makes this work so exciting. We get to help people in many ways. One of those ways, is to help them understand the often-baffling waves of technology that many see as an assault on their comprehension. We not only do that, but we also explain to people how they can employ these technologies, and in doing so, we are not only a voice of utility, but also, potentially, a force to encourage proper, safe, environmentally sound, and maybe even ethical uses of the technologies we write about.

We can choose our words, and our choice of words is important on many levels – to contribute to our bosses’ or clients’ profitability, certainly – but also to contribute to the well being and contentment of our end users.

What a great responsibility!

Author: Ray

Ray Gallon is president and co-founder of The Transformation Society (, a research, training and consulting company focusing on building learning organisations that can manage complexity and the digital transformation. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station. Ray is a self-described "humanist nerd," and has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises. Ray recently helped co-found the Information 4.0 Consortium ( and serves as its current president. Ray is a university lecturer and a keynote speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

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