Communicating Distances

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Later this afternoon, I’ll return home to New Orleans from Orlando. I’ve been here since Sunday, attending the Society for Technical Communication’s annual Summit.

I’ve traveled quite a bit in the last thirty days (Los Angeles, New York, plus a few local trips I’ll get to shortly). One remarkable thing is that only this last bit of travel, to Florida, has been for my day job. That’s certainly a departure from years past.

And in another departure, this travel hasn’t been for a trade show. Which leads me to something I’ve meant to mention in this space earlier, but I don’t think I have yet. I’ve moved out of the marketing department and onto a new challenge with the company who’s been good enough to employ me for the past eleven years. I’ve been learning the ropes of technical writing, which is a change that suits me just fine.

Communication has been the focus the past three days at this conference — the 65th version of this meet-up! It’s been eye-opening and very educational. Part of me regrets that it’s taken me so long in my career to turn in this direction; but there’s another part of me that feels like now is just the right time to get involved. There’s been so much change — just in the past few years or so — in how we communicate as a society.

I’ve been thinking of the term “the medium is the message.” When Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan coined that phrase back in 1964, was there any way he could have possibly envisioned the vast proliferation of mediums that exist today?

What it all seems to boil down to is this: I don’t need to craft a different message for every different form of media I use. I just need to be clear enough in what I want to say, and fluent enough in the nuances of the different media, to be able to “translate” the message into all its appropriate forms.

Therein lies the rub.

And this doesn’t seem clear at all, but I mentioned above some local trips I made recently. Far be it from me to leave that dangling. In the span of about 24 hours, I made round trips to the following southern Louisiana towns: Baton Rouge, LaPlace, and Ponchatoula. And when that was all done, I flew to Orlando.

In the interest of concise communication, I’ve edited out the reasons for those three local trips, and the incontrovertible timing each bore. If my life were a fiction, I’d try to work in some theme about how the main character (me!) likes to travel, and likes to write, and likes to think about communication. But when they all happen at once, some major conflagration happens, the m.c. overcomes the conflict, and everyone is significantly changed at the end of it all.

But thankfully, my life isn’t a fiction. So I’ll just conclude by saying that I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that have been laid before me these past thirty days, opportunities to do things I find fulfilling. But I’ll also be very glad to get home, stay in one spot, and enjoy the silence for a little while.



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