Technical Writers: Our Knowledge Brokers

Last Wednesday, the Society for Technical Communication hosted a web seminar where James Conklin, Assistant Professor, Concordia University, discussed and defined the knowledge transfer, describing its relevance in the fields of science and pinpointing emerging opportunities in technical communications. In particular, Conklin made comparisons between the knowledge broker and the technical writer.

To save myself from accusations of plagiarism, I want to openly point out that the following information has been pulled from Conklin’s slide presentation, which in turn comes from two abstracts you can find online (sources cited below), but I’m using it to show the interesting lens through which we should consider technical writers.


Technical Writer   Knowledge Broker
  • Writing, graphics, information design
  • Gather, analyze, package, and manage knowledge resources
  • Facilitating interaction across boundaries
  • Form relationships, create networks, and mediate between groups with diverse interests
  • Collaborative competencies and peopleskills
  • Flexible approach along with interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Facilitating the construction of new knowledge through interaction and dialogue
  • Facilitate organizational change


If we look at the process involved in creating a document, we see that a technical writer requires skills and competencies that we might otherwise take for granted when we just simply look at the created document. From a knowledge management perspective, technical writers are more than good wordsmiths and editors. They’re relationship managers, facilitators and enablers. They help bridge the gap between what we know and what we need to know as well as what we do and what we need to do.



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