Create Knowledge

Posted by Lotg on July 07, 2003

Recently, I and an associate, attended a conference for technical communicators in Milan. My associate is a full-time employee of a large corporation and manages a technical communication department. I am a sole proprietor and contractor who works in a wide range of companies, industries and fulfils a wide range of duties that include technical writing, business analysis, training, support, multimedia development, etc. etc. So our backgrounds are similar yet different.

Nonetheless we agreed that this conference was appalling. Thank goodness Milan is a joy to visit in itself and we made the most of the long trip from Australia and also spent an additional 3 weeks holidaying in Europe. Had we gone specifically for the conference it would have been a terrible waste of time and money. It was amateuristic, unprofessional and behind the times.

Having said all that, one of the topics was 'Expanding Career Opportunities for Technical Communicators', frankly the pick of the sessions we attended.

I was firstly disturbed at the cringing, insecure way in which technical communicators think of themselves. No wonder employers and clients don't take them seriously. Ironic, considering their career is communication.

In an effort to discuss how to raise the profile of technical communicators (on the basis that employers and clients don't tend to take this role seriously), the facilitator claimed that we 'create knowledge'.

This statement astounded me. I'm all for taking a strong, positive approach. But it still has to be realistic.

To begin with I thought it was arrogant. In my opinion, while we may incorporate our own knowledge, our role is generally to obtain and communicate the knowledge of others in a variety of ways.

But most of all, I thought the statement was also impossible. Surely it is not actually possible to 'create knowledge'? Knowledge is acquired, learned, handed down, passed on, communicated, etc. etc.

Can knowledge actually be 'created'? Can these two words 'create' and 'knowledge' be used together this way? Sounds more like more meaningless buzzwords to me.