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Changing the world


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Technical Communicators often feel underappreciated. This lightning talk shows the ways we change the world just by doing our jobs well.

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Changing the world

  1. 1. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Changing the World Katherine (Kit) Brown-Hoekstra When Jack asked me to do this lightning talk, I immediately said, "Sure! Looks like fun! I’ve been wanting to try this format. " Then, he asked what my topic would be, and without thinking, I blurted, "Changing the World". Then, upon reflection, I said to myself, "Oh snap! I have 10 minutes to change the world! Ack!" So what the heck, here we go! I have to tell you a little story of how this topic came up.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 1
  2. 2. Changing the World 7 October 2012 About the Speaker 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 2 Ive had Comgenesis for 9 years now, and was looking for ideas for changing my tagline from "Content Design and Development"—adequate, but a bit boring and it doesnt really encompass all that I do—to something punchier and more alliterative that brings in my interest in global communication. I posted on the CIC SIG list for help, and many people provided great suggestions, including "Changing the World through Communication".(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 2
  3. 3. Changing the World 7 October 2012 What Does it Mean? 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 3 Someone on the list said that that tagline seemed a bit presumptuous and asked if I really thought I could really change the world. I thought about it, concluded that the answer is an emphatic "YES we all do", and then went all meta and philosophical in my response to the SIG list. This talk is part of what I came up with. I got to thinking about what does "changing the world" really mean, and how does it happen? Can one person really change the world?(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 3
  4. 4. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Big Change 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 4 I started thinking about the types of changes we can have. There are big changes….(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 4
  5. 5. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Small Change Image: winnond / 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 5 Changes can be small like creating a garden.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 5
  6. 6. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Plodding Change 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 6 There are plodding changes like the number of iterations that it took Edison to invent the light bulb(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 6
  7. 7. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Accidental Change Image: Rameshng / _Fleming_dnhs_US_2010 myeloid-leukemia-promising-development-in-new-treatments/ 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 7 Changes can be accidental, like the discovery of penicillin(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 7
  8. 8. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Positive Change Image: piyaphantawong / Image courtesy of Idea go / apartheid-nelson-mandela-nobel.html 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 8 Positive changes like the smallpox vaccine(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 8
  9. 9. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Negative Change,2 9307,1994377,00.html fire-wildfire-near-colorado-springs-grows-0 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 9 Or….change can be negative—nuclear holocaust(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 9
  10. 10. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 10 Timing, intention, and which side of the change you are on matter. Sometimes, change that seemed bad turns out to be good (getting laid off and then finding your true calling). Sometimes, a great change doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. (water pump in India that kept getting sabotaged because for the girls who fetched the water, it was the only time when they could be free and socialize.)(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 10
  11. 11. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Image: Zuzzuillo / 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 11 So, after much thought, I concluded that not only can one person change the world, that is usually how it starts—with a catalyst. One person or a small group of people who decide that the status quo isnt working and they do something about it.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 11
  12. 12. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 12 I dont think most people think, "Hey, Im going to change the world today." Instead, I think that they see a problem that bothers them, and they try to fix it. So, they just go off and find what they need and fix the problem. If it’s a big enough problem, they might gather other people to them to help solve the problem.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 12
  13. 13. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 13 And because that person is connected to about 150 other people, they might tell 2 friends about their solution, and those people might tell two friends, and so on, until someone tells a super-connector like Scott and he tells everyone. And, then before you know it, we have the next best thing to sliced bread, and everyone is using the solution.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 13
  14. 14. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 14 Interestingly though, even if they tell their friends about the solution, most of the time, people dont ever find out how much they have changed something because the effects often don’t become known until much later, or because no one thought to tell them. Or, that change can be very subtle, and its often only at a persons funeral that you see how much he/she affected those around them. Unfortunately, that person probably never realized the impact of his/her life because no one told them, and now, well….they are dead and cant hear it. Ironic, isnt it?!(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 14
  15. 15. Changing the World 7 October 2012 So What Does this Have to Do with Tech Com? 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 15 One of the reasons that we struggle to define our profession is that we touch everything—every product, process, and service on this little blue marble. We are part of the infrastructure that keeps the world economies ticking along. We might not think that our efforts matter, but they do. Noz alluded to this in his talk earlier today. We support the tools and technology, the processes and services, that enable the cool stuff to happen.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 15
  16. 16. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 16 But, just like the roads and bridges, if we are doing our jobs well, no one notices the content, right?! Until something goes wrong that is…(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 16
  17. 17. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 17 Without us, inventors would have a harder time designing, communicating, selling, and building their inventions, people would be less safe on the job, people would die because they didnt know how to care for a particular disease or how to feed their children better, governments would fall because no one could communicate the legal information to the public and could speak to each other about diplomatic issues—the list goes on and on. We matter!(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 17
  18. 18. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Image: Salvatore Vuono / 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 18 So, yes I want to change the world. I want to leave it in better condition than it was when I arrived; I want our profession to be better and stronger because I participated in it. I want to leave every interaction on a positive note. Dont get me wrong; Im not a Pollyanna and I recognize that there are serious issues in the world and in our profession. I also recognize that Im a flawed human being (as are we all) and that my flaws sometimes get in the way of my better nature....but, its still a worthy goal....(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 18
  19. 19. Changing the World 7 October 2012 “Success” "To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to give of ones self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exhultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived--this is to have succeeded.“—Ralph Waldo Emerson 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 19 So, I want to leave you with this thought about how changing the world, even in small ways, brings success to you as an individual and to our profession.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 19
  20. 20. Changing the World 7 October 2012 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 20 Oh, and the tagline I came up with? “Communication for a connected World”. So, let’s go out there and use our powers for good and connect the world.(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 20
  21. 21. Changing the World 7 October 2012 Contact Information Kit Brown-Hoekstra Comgenesis, LLC Phone: +1 720.542.3075 Email: Twitter: @kitcomgenesis 7 October 2012 @kitcomgenesis 21(c) 2012 Comgenesis, LLC 21