In several other blog posts, I've posted links to articles about the freefall of the newspaper business and the near-freefall of the broadcast television business.
For those of you who are trainers, instructional designers, or technical communicators, you're probably wondering, "what does any of this have to do with me?"
On the one hand, on an instinctive level, I always figured there was a link. As the commercial industry goes, so goes the custom (private) industry. On the other hand, I wasn't sure, at first, how it would play out.
Then I saw the article, "Customer Service? Ask a Volunteer," by Steve Lohr in the New York Times (Viewed at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/business/26unbox.html?_r=1&hpw) and the implication hit me like a ton of bricks: user-generated content.
So many of us are excited about Web 2.0 and the opportunity to have users generate content. But if users are generating all of the training and documentation, who needs professionals?
To be honest, I think there IS an answer to that question and some organizations will get it, and value what these two professions--ones in which I have invested years in both academic and industry environments. But I also believe that there's a similarly large group of organizations that will ask "who needs professionals?" and conclude, "certainly not us!"
And that, in turn, could have serious implications for future employment of people in both fields.