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