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from Jonathan Wexler - Green Tech Writer

I mentioned before why I think doom & gloom are exactly the wrong emotions to have when it comes to climate change. Yes it is a huge wickedly complex problem with more harrowing news arriving daily. But if we all give up we all will really eventually go extinct. Humanity has faced catastrophe many times, including an ice age where I believe our numbers were reduced to something like 10,000 people, and we always proved resilient enough to the point that there has never been so many of us. I think #GretaThunberg is an absolute good and her climate marches are an important contribution to the fight, and environmental awareness worldwide. My only thought on this, is that, as she preaches to listen to the science when it comes to the problem, I think this message will most often get lost on politicians, as most politicians in all countries are simply out for themselves and are propagandists (though I still think it important to vote), so I think it as important to listen to the scientists and engineers equally for answers. In my view, we have to innovate ourselves out of this mess and I feel this includes working with ethical and green businesses in collaboration with enlightened government, assuming the latter is possible (let’s vote out the bums if necessary 😉). I hope to explore this topic more as I begin to take on greener projects.

 
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from Jonathan Wexler - Green Tech Writer

I just read an interesting article called Climate Stalinism that comes down very hard on the #environmentalmovement and which I obviously don’t totally agree with because I know some of their work is undoubtedly for the good. I always felt though that as bad and unscrupulous as some human actions might be towards nature for the sheer benefit of accumulating wealth, that we also have to guard our good traditions and democratic values against the worst doomerism and tendencies of some of the, and some in, the #environmentalmovement. Basically for me anyway, any kind of extremism is exactly the thing we don’t need any more of right now. From what I gather from a layman’s cursory overview of environmental literature and the classes I have took, I am convinced we do have a serious problem to contend with due to climate change. Then, it is one thing to preach apocalypse and radical action, it is another to put in the work to come up with solutions, or at least proposals for solutions, so we can actually get to work on the problem, and remain hopeful that we can actually do it! It is difficult to come up with a blog post that can really summarize my thoughts on an evolving complex situation like climate change, especially with so much polarization only amplified by too much angry opinionizing on the Internet inflated by algorithms that benefit from the old “if it bleeds it leads” truism. I do agree that peaceful protest in general can be a good thing. And I know this post, no matter how I come down, will make me some enemies, but it seems to me that as life goes on we have no choice as technical writers, developers, business people and technologists but to push forward with the work that can actually tackle this problem. I don’t think 10 billion people can or want to go live back in the forest, though of course we should protect it and plant as many trees as possible, so we have to push for sustainability and resiliency while not devolving into unrealistic notions, in my humble opinion. Again, I hope not to offend, only to try and find ways to continue the much needed green technology work as is possible in this day and age.

I guess what I am saying is conferences like Digital Infra Montréal could be something of great value which most of us might agree on 😉.

 
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from Jonathan Wexler - Green Tech Writer

What do I mean by “Green Tech Writer”? Well, traditionally most tech writing was performed alongside software development to document procedures, APIs (application interfaces), user interfaces, and related functionalities. Of course there is plenty of technical writing in other domains, such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and aviation: where structured writing actually started with the SGML markup language of which a subset is HTML. There is a body of ethics in many of these industries, although I think less so in software because it is newer. Ethics I think has to be a key element of business going forward commensurate with the demands of much of the activism going on. But I think beyond ethics, environmental themes must be baked into our infrastructure, our technology, our code. Engineers often cannot be farther from the forest. Perhaps this is why soon after I started as a technical writer I indeed often went to the forest in terms of going on long hikes in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal, in Vermont and often to the Presidential Range in New Hampshire where I climbed Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the northeast of North America. I don't know if it was through these hikes and walks, but the environmental movement of late has really hit a nerve and I realized computer science, along with a lot of other professional disciplines serving business, cannot be locked up in disembodied cubicles in extremely hierarchical organizations if we hope to combat the central challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

Time to Green it Up

So that is why I am pursuing the project of, and services outlined in Green Tech Writer; note that the website is only about 10% done but instead of putting it in “Under Construction” mode, I thought I would operate under the “Minimal Viable Product” rubric so lots of content and pages are still to be designed and filled in. I think the site gets across the point of what I want to do and think is important, that is, to use the technical tools of the technical writing profession and turn these fully towards green technology. For the complexity of green tech will be encountered by the non-specialist, and what is a good tech writer if not a translator between subject matter experts and the layman.

Next Steps

I am busy expanding my green network to many experts in the field as well as to pertinent politicians and activists in the environmental movement, and am enrolled in up to a dozen online MOOCs to do with green themes of various sorts, not to mention my voluminous reading in the field. I am undertaking these steps, along with a technical re-acquaintance to the tools of the tech writer, Adobe Technical Communication Suite and Creative Cloud, structured writing, new web technologies of various kinds, all in the service of the grand green technologies and methodologies that are needed and going to be needed to preserve and hopefully improve our way of life, to make it very much more equitable and fair, and to allow the earth to regenerate from the unfortunate state it is in. I am not really the activist type although I was on the Greta Thunberg 500,000 people Fridays for Future march in Montreal (so were about a quarter of all Montrealers!) and I did and may do some work for environmental groups. But I feel my main contribution can be bringing my accumulated and accumulating skills to aid enlightened technical companies to better explain their new products and services so they are better adaptable to our hyper-modern, hyper-evolving, and hyper-speed world. Stay tuned here and on Green Tech Writer in the days, months and years to come as we really get going.

 
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from Jonathan Wexler - Green Tech Writer

As previously mentioned, I worked for almost twenty years for many prominent software and production houses as recounted on my legacy website Montreal Tech Writer. Places like the very successful Genetec where I covered physical security software such as Omnicast used for camera surveillance and AutoVu used for LPR (licence plate recognition). This was a kind of infrastructure, physical security, that had some very good uses, but might theoretically be used for nefarious purposes if put in the wrong hands, like a dictatorial regime. I am not saying #Genetec or any other company necessarily knowingly sells its wares to bad actors, I just decided that for me personally I’d rather work for next-gen technology companies that have ethics and the environment at their core such as #Lyft, who actually recruited me for a technical writing position where they are expanding in Montréal, but I am aiming for contract work rather than full time, otherwise it would have been tempting. Point is these kinds of enlightened companies do exist, like Lyft it seems, and definitely like Patagonia always has been. The kids surrounding #GretaThunberg are demanding we up our standards and it ultimately pushed me to do something positive I hope, and put up Green Tech Writer to promote my acquired and always developing technical skills to the best uses I can find. I ultimately believe this makes good business sense too, which is not an evil thing in my opinion, as both the climate and economy need fixing. Hit me up if you think I could be of use to your green initiative whether you are a for-profit company, NGO or environmental group. I am open to many types of work. For now contact me at jonathan.wexler@greentechwriter.org. Best of luck and looking forward to discussing the staggering possibilities.

 
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