90 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2016
    1. The goals of Universal Design stand in direct contrast to the often nostalgic (and ultimately hierarchical) expression of normativity we see in the repeated calls to re-embrace physical books, pens, and paper. For such positions, one need only look to the oft-cited (and oft-shared on social media) study on the efficacy of hand-written versus digital note-taking.[12] However, I want to suggest that both positions engender a sense of “best practice” that could obscure the specific sociopolitical and embodied orientation of an individual user.

      This passage was quite interesting since it seems that with every advance in technology there is a need for some to hearken back to the "good 'ol days". For those who are not white men without disabilities, those days weren't really all that good.

      The "calls to re-embrace physical books, pens, and paper" may seem normal to me, but to someone who cannot see or a veteran without any hands, using a pen and paper because that's what your grandfather used as a correspondent in French Indochina doesn't really help. According to Rick there is a dispute between the efficacy of using hand written notes and digital notes. To me those who would want to make hand written notes a form of best practice are not thinking about audiences with disabilities. Similar to the Schryer article, the notes that are taken may be read or used for research by someone who wasn't the original author. Notes that are taken with a pen and pad will automatically be unusable to the blind. Someone who is blind would be able to use a voice recorder to take in the same information without losing any of the information in the process. That of course can depend on the content they are recording.

      In my opinion, it seems as though education is moving further and further away from traditional books and paper as well. Newspapers put their content online and publishers can put novels on a Kindle. By doing this, newspapers and traditional publishers, while moving away from a traditional form of information consumption are also opening themselves up to other audiences that could be impaired. Fonts can be made bigger and words can be read aloud, improving the reading experience for those with bad vision or those with no vision at all.

    1. At some point in the future, project directors seeking government funding could be turned down if they are unable to demonstrate in their grant proposals that the results of their work will be accessible.

      I agree with Williams that in the future, digital equality will become more important as more of our world becomes digital. The withholding of funds has historically been a powerful tactic of the federal government to carry out it's directives both nationally and internationally. If a company is not compliant with the current federal laws, they should not be entitled to any federal funds.

      This is also interesting since this quote bleeds into a similar field which is proposal and grant writing. We could write a brilliant proposal but if there is not enough content that is accessible to the blind, the funding could be withheld. As a proposal writer that has read this article, my mind should already be thinking about ways to include every audience, including for this example, the blind.

      Even a non profit, say the Center for Civic Innovation for example, may have to comply with federal guidelines that protect people with disabilities from being left out of the current digital age. If I was a head of a non-profit, I think working towards this goal of digital inclusivity looks better when the work is pro-active and not reactive. Instead of changing because of a lawsuit, change should be brought on out of a genuine desire to help. Of course being the first to do something always helps garner a bit of positive press. In the capitalist business world, being the first always helps garner more profit.

    2. Walter Ong famously wrote, “Technologies are artificial, but …artificiality is natural to humans” (81). Ong’s concern is with writing as a fundamentally artificial process that has been so “internalized” by humans that it appears to be as natural to us as talking. Ong’s observation is part of a larger cultural critique that highlights the socially constructed nature of the ways we perceive technology and its role in our lives.

      This particular quote is noteworthy for a few reasons. One of the reasons is when Ong writes, "Technologies are artificial, but artificiality is natural to humans". Technology is artificial in that it is created by humans, but not of humans. This gets even more interesting if you begin to apply that to current advances in virtual reality. As technical writers we are making artificial and sometimes unnatural processes easier and more friendly, or natural.

      Writing was not a natural form of communication for many western cultures. The Vikings for example rarely kept a written record of their histories but instead used ballads and spoken histories that were past down through the generations. In many cases, their legends grew with each passing generation. In this case, writing itself is a form of artificial technology and for many, it becomes a natural or "internalized" process requiring little thought. As technical writers we need to remain vigilant and make sure that we are not looking at our work from such an internalized viewpoint that forget who we are writing for.

      Like we discussed in our last set of readings, those who write perfect prose for a manual that no one reads are not doing their jobs correctly. Our writing requires a universality that separates it from other forms such as novels. Though an argument can be made that the best selling novels have some form of universality since they obviously appeal to such large groups of people.

    3. Online information presented in audio or video format is not accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing end users without captions. These individuals benefit from online captioning as well as from written transcriptions presented as separate and independent documents. Creating captions and transcriptions makes such information subject to search and computer analysis in ways not currently possible with audio and video alone. Additionally, individuals without disabilities often find transcriptions easier to follow

      Coming from a world of film, many film makers may only think of subtitles as a way to make sure people who speak another language can understand the film. During my undergrad at Georgia State, I can honestly say that trying to make our movies more friendly to people that are hard of hearing was at no point a priority. Now that I'm thinking about video this way, it seems like a super simple element that can be added to a video to make it understandable to those that may be deaf.

      Williams states how, "Creating captions and transcriptions makes such information subject to search and computer analysis..." This part is fascinating since anyone who makes a video for YouTube wants to get as many views as possible. By catering to the deaf and adding captions and transcriptions, a video can now be found easier than it was before. This is another benefit of thinking about universal design when creating content whether it's text or a video.

      Williams also points out that by adding a transcription, people who are not hard of hearing are able to comprehend the content easier as well. So by opening up to audiences with disabilities, we may also be helping audiences without them. To me, this is exactly why we should apply elements of Universal Design to our work. Content that was narrow in it's focus before now has a broader reach and impact.

    1. Though this point is often debated, it’s commonly said that serifs make long passages (in print) easier to navigate visually, helping move your eyes along the lines of text. However, because serifs are usually small and thin, they often don’t display as well on pixel-based screens (looking distorted and “noisy” rather than clear and crisp), so many designers favor sans-serif fonts for web use, especially at small sizes.

      I believe that points like these are crucial when creating a website. In our last set of readings we discussed how elements of universal design and fonts are an easy way begin down that path.

      In our own Service Learning Project, one of the areas we believe that we can help our client is by implementing an easier to read font. Currently the letters are very thin and to some, could be hard to read. But like this article discusses, just by doing something as simple as emboldening the typeface/font can improve the ability of those who might be visually challenged to read and comprehend the material on the website.

      Another great point about type faces and fonts is that they make content easier to read across multiple types of devices such as smart phones, laptops and desktop computers. We should all as technical writers and future content managers be cognizant of how our content appears on different platforms.

    2. Decorative / Display: When you hear a font categorized as decorative, display, or novelty, it all means the same thing — that font is meant to get your attention. They’re often more unusual than practical and should only be used in small doses and for a specific effect or purpose.

      This is something that I believe is very important when thinking about content strategy and also user experience as well. By displaying different typefaces and fonts in different ways, we as technical writers are able to choose where our readers place their eyes. By using multiple font sizes and thicknesses we are able to create a hierarchy within our content and writing.

      By thinking in this way we are able to create content that is easy to navigate. Using size and boldness can inform the reader what the important parts of the content are. This is also great for segmenting content by informing the reader what each section may be about so they know if they should keep reading or skip to the parts that they find more interesting or important.

      Also, just like the quote above states, these decorative effects should be used sparingly so that their importance is not deluded. If every word is bold, then that effect is meaningless and the article is not easier to read and digest. We as content creators should always be looking for ways that our content can be more easily read and understood.

    3. You wouldn’t wear a bathing suit to a job interview; then again, you wouldn’t want to wear a suit and tie during your vacation on the beach either. There’s an element of appropriateness to consider.

      I believe this is very important to consider when thinking about how we wish to display our content. In this passage Klienman discusses how our fonts and typefaces are similar to the clothes we wish to wear and I believe that this is true.

      This reminds me of something I've learned/overheard many times from my wife: don't use Comic Sans. Anytime someone uses Comic Sans, the author will lose credibility. Unless writing an actual comic book, the font is useless. In my humble opinion.

      I believe that when working in the professional world, especially when that work uses design in anyway, the technical writer needs to understand how the content they are creating looks. If that content looks unprofessional, that content will lose credibility. So by having a firm grasp on fonts and typefaces we are working towards implementing better design, more effective content and a brighter future.

    4. Before you ever start browsing through fonts on your computer or searching for a new one to buy or download, it would be a good idea to brainstorm some of the qualities or characteristics that you want your design to communicate.

      This seems like a simple thing to do, but planning what exactly we want our content to achieve is a great idea. This includes of course, planning what we are going to write, but also what that writing is going to look like. We can plan around images and page sizes, but we also need to plan on how the user reads our content.

      For example, if we are writing for a new part of the AARP website, we should probably choose a font that is thicker and stands out for those who may have trouble seeing. If we look back at our previous reading this is also a tenet of Universal Design. If we're going to be thinking about audience and how we can reach as many people as possible, fonts and type faces have to be a part of that discussion. How we emphasize certain words and sentences with fonts and spacing can determine how easy a user can skim through the content we create.

      But, back to the beginning, planning. Fonts can seem like something to think about last, but the crux of this reading so far, to me, is that this should be a part of the design process from the beginning since it can inform the reader so much about not only the content, but the author as well.

    5. Who is viewing your design may also be important. Is your audience of a certain age or demographic? Will your font choice resonate with them?

      This quote points out what I hope should be obvious to us now: we must consider who our audience is before we start creating our content.

      If we are going to be competent writers in any realm, our audience needs to guide how and what we write, regardless of the platform. In my own project with The Center For Civic Innovation, we initially focused on a younger audience since their over all vibe, branding, and (seemingly) tech focus seemed to trend that way. But during our pitch presentation and the feedback after, our client informed us that they did indeed want to be more inclusive to more than just the young, but older patrons as well as anyone who had a civic minded venture and needed a work space. Moving forward this has informed some the design choices we have made, which interestingly enough was choosing fonts and type faces that are easy to view for anyone who may happen upon the CCI website.

    6. Body typefaces are used in body copy: book text, magazine or newspaper text, website content, any lengthy passages. These fonts are easy on the eyes and easy to read. It’s important that they’re not distracting, so users can easily skim or scan the text.

      I believe this passage is important for us as technical writers because we can choose what our words look like. We have the option to choose a font or typeface that flows with the overall design which can prevent it from ending up distracting.

      In writing for the web, succinct writing is king (or queen). Users want to read quickly, get to the meat of the article, skim it and then leave. By using the right fonts we are able to catagorize our content so that it is easy to skim and the reader can obtain the information they came for as quickly as possible. This also helps as the screens people will be experiencing the content on will vary in size. While some may be using a phone, others may be using an I-pad or Kindle Fire. I believe both sets of readers will be subconsciously looking for cues that will allow them to skip ahead without feeling like they have missed anything. An easy step in that process is to use fonts effectively.

    7. Size: You’ll want to choose point size that fits your design context. A business card will need a different sized font than an event poster. If you’re designing something that might be viewed on mobile devices — social media graphics, for example — open up any word processing program and try typing a few lines using the font you’re considering and then reducing the size. If you can still easily make it out at smaller sizes, then it will probably perform well on small screens.

      As the quote mentions, font size can vary by purpose. This is specifically true in my service learning project. One of the deliverables we are charged with creating is a more streamlined newsletter. The current newsletter is too long and because of that length, users are not reading the entire newsletter and missing out on pertinent information that is cultivated just for them.

      One area in which we could help is the size of the lettering and spacing throughout the newsletter. While this may not fix the entire problem of the newsletter length, by choosing a small font size we would inevitably condense the newsletter. This approach could also be brought to bear on the images of the letter. By condensing these as well, the over all length of the newsletter is shortened without removing or redesigning any content.

      Thinking about the size of the font also helps as Kliever mentions when considering how the content will be viewed on other devices. Large print on a small screen could be disorienting, but print that is too small would also be unreadable. This brings us back to a point we've discussed in class which is product testing. The best way to learn if one of these fonts works is by testing it ourselves on as many devices as we can.

    8. The I/l/1 test: For any font you’re considering for passages of text that include both letters and numbers, try this: Type out a capital I, a lowercase L, and the number one. If two or more look identical, then readers might stumble over certain words or letter/number combinations.

      This is another passage this semester that blew my mind a little bit. I think many of us have been reading, typing or writing and noticed that our 1's, L's and I's look somewhat similar if not totally identical.

      If we are going to be using fonts and typefaces as way to maintain a cohesive design and improve the overall effectiveness of the content, then this test should be tool we all keep in our back pockets. The last thing we want as a content managers is for our content to be confusing. If we look back to elements of universal design, there may be a person who is new to the English language and the similarity of the 1's, L's, and I's may be enough to make the piece to complicated to read or fully understand.

      Even if the reader does have a firm grasp of the language, as the article has explained, by making the fonts easier to understand the reader can access the information they need quicker and thus the content is more useful. This is what we as technical writers need to be attempting in our layouts and design.

    9. Give each font a job: Your chosen fonts will need to be different enough that they create a clear visual hierarchy — showing viewers where to look and what’s important. One sans-serif and one serif font are often enough to do this effectively.

      I found this to be important in that this can help us maintain a cohesive design throughout our content without going crazy picking different fonts.

      By picking two or three we can create a hierarchy that is cohesive throughout whatever it is that we are creating. One font for headlines, one for moments of emphasis and one for body copy could easily guide a reader through our immaculate writing so they are able to quickly pick up what we are putting down and not feel as though they have missed anything. While a reader will inevitably miss something by not reading all of our magnificent and colorful prose, they will understand the main points if we the writers allow our chosen fonts to do their jobs. As the article mentions, "Your chosen fonts will need to be different enough so that they create a clear visual hierarchy..."

      So we don't need to go crazy, but we do need to be thoughtful and strategic when picking our fonts.

    10. If the characteristics the font is communicating don’t match the message of your overall design, then there will be a visual disconnect for the viewers or users of your design, and you don’t want that

      The above quote does a great job illustrating how important a font can be to the overall design of a website or any type of content for that matter.

      This seems easy and simple, but I could imagine, also over looked: the font should match the design. To borrow an example, if you are writing for a website that is modeled after the New York Times, there is no reason to use Comic Sans as the font. The author as well as the publication will lose credibility. This disconnect will create confusion.

  2. techwritingf16.robinwharton.net techwritingf16.robinwharton.net
    1. Use visuals (photos or illustrations) when it is necessary to show- what something looks like or to depict a perceptual quality such as color, texture, pattern, shape, relative size, spatial location, orientation, arrangement, or appearance

      Something that is important to remember when using images is that they can be used to explain what is being described in the text. However, if the image is being used for that purpose, it must be good quality.

      If the body copy is explaining the complexities of the inside of a Lilly and how it grows, the image should be clear enough to convey that information. Also when we are using images in our future content creation, I believe that we must test their quality before we officially post them to our future websites. The image could appear pixilated and therefore confusing or even useless. Images appear differently on different quality screens so when we are testing our work we should trying testing the image quality on a lower end device as well as a higher end one to maintain consistency.

    2. Isolation Surround important elements with lots of white space. Elements surrounded by generouswww. mintocommercial, com/home. htm),white space are thought to be accorded greater attention. As a result, isolating an element in a dis­play implies that it is more important (Goldsmith

      This quote is another aspect of design that seems so simple that it could easily be forgotten. Personally this is something I've probably noticed thousands of times but have never stopped to think about why a title for example, was surrounded by white space.

      By surrounding elements that require greater attention with white space as the quote implies, we are assigning that element value. In separating a title from the rest of the body copy in an article, we have created value without having to add any other design elements. Without a fancy font or added font thickness, a piece of text just separate and surrounded by white space is easily understood to be worth remembering.

      An example of this could be found when reading an article whether on line or in a magazine when the author takes a quote from their own article and creates white space around it surrounded by body copy. This creates points of emphasis while also breaking up the copy into smaller pieces as well. While they may use a different font or boldness, the separation implies this particular quote is important in regards to the rest of the article.

    3. Good design reveals structure when it visually mimics the logical relationships that exist among elements in a display. The human visual system attempts to find the structure of information—whether in a scene, on a page, or on a screen—very early in its efforts to process it, and it does so by looking for visual patterns.

      To me, this quote is explaining the psychology of good design.

      Humans need structure. Within a structure they are free to improvise, but that structure is what creates a template of understanding. The jazz guitarist can play millions of notes that don't seem to make sense, but he may be actually stringing together multiple scales and arpeggios that to a casual listener sound disjointed, but are actuality a framework for which his seemingly improvised notes are connected.

      This type of thinking can be applied to our designs and layouts as well. While we may all want to be totally unique and innovative, we may want to think about how far we stray from conventional designs and templates. Many of these design conventions may exist due to how they are able to easily guide humans through a website for example. As the quote mentions, the "human visual system" is looking for "visual patterns". We are exploiting that by arranging our content in a way that makes the most sense by using fonts and spacing that can create hierarchies which can guide the reader through our writing even easier.

    4. A number of assumptions are commonly made about the efficacy of icons in graphical user interfaces. They include the notion that icons, because they are pictorial, are almost invariably easy to interpret. A corollary' is that they' are universally interpretable because the key to meaning con­veyed pictorially is not bound to any one language. These assumptions, which are largely incorrect, stem in part from a confusion between the notions of “identification” and “interpretation." While it may well be true that, at least for concrete things and ideas, pictures facilitate rapid, and sometimes universal, identification, it is certainly not al­ways true that they efficiently or unambiguously convey what we intend an object to mean (Salomon 1979; Sebeok 1994; Williams 1996

      This quote is so interesting because it was published back in 2000 and the use of icons or in our futuristic world, emoji's, has only increased.

      One aspect that Salomon, Sebok and Williams all point out in this excerpt is that not all icons are universally understood. One icon in one culture may have another meaning in another. While a smiley face may be universal, a thumbs up may not be. Today we have a wide array of icons or emojis that are used in online publication but also personal communication. However, if one is not totally caught up on pop culture, the meaning of these icons may be lost. While we may think that a picture is worth a thousand words, we as technical writers need to understand that those words may not translate well in a thousand different languages.

      An interesting study would be to find out which emoji's or icons are the most popular in other languages such as French, Chinese, Swahili or Russian for example. In these languages, icons may not even play a significant role in everyday communication as much as they seem to in Western and specifically English speaking cultures.

    5. While ''thematic” pictures may be acceptable when their relationship to the site and its contents can be easily in­ferred, pictures chosen only to decorate a site often con­fuse. At best such pictures provide no assistance to the viewer in acquiring information being conveyed by a site.

      Something that we have touched on all semester is the use of as many modes as possible when we are trying to communicate to as many audiences as possible. One mode we should always think about using is pictures.

      Since we are all somewhat young technical writers in training, we need to be training ourselves to communicate as much as possible as succinctly as possible. In regards to this reading and specific quote, that also means making sure that the images we use are actually useful for the overall content we are creating. As Williams mentions, there will be times when we need a decorative image. But most of the time we will be using images to help convey information as clearly as possible. As we have discussed in class, images can help reach more audiences but also enhance the content by adding a visual element which will enhance the effectiveness of the information we are trying to display.

      We must also remember that some readers may get what they need from our content just by looking at the pictures and the headlines. That is ok. This is an audience we should be planning for. Users are looking for content and want to digest that content quickly. Adding visual elements will help them accomplish that.

    6. Consistency7 has some other advantages for the user, as well. A consistent format speeds searching—it sets up expec­tations about where certain kinds of information or elements such as menus, navigation aids, or site maps can be found (Tullis 1988). Consistency, then, should exist not just within individual screens but among all screens in a Web site; there­fore, secondary7 screens should be logically, visually, and structurally derivative of home or primary pages

      This quote can tie into an earlier point I've made for this article about accepted design formats and their usefulness to us as technical writers.

      When people are able to see a website that makes sense, flows logically with consistent design, the user is able to search through it at a higher speed. The user is then not having to decipher where exactly the "About" page is, but know already to look at the top left of the menu bar on the home page or any page they may land on in the website.

      Williams goes on to explain that consistency should exist "among all screens in a Web site; therefore, secondary screens should be logically, visually, and structurally derivative of home or primary pages". This means that when there is consistency throughout the website, not just a few pages, the user can easily navigate the entire website since it has been logically planned and designed. In my service learning project we find that some pages are well thought out while others are not and that inconsistency creates confusion since the information in the latter pages is not as easy to access. This can be changed of course by applying what we've read in this article.

    7. Finally, it’s important to acknowledge in the design of information to be displayed on a screen that screens differ from pages in some very fundamental ways. Screens, for example, may be smaller than pages, at least in the sense that they often display fewer lines of type than a typical paper page. Screens are also customarily oriented differ­ently than paper—they are typically wider than they are tall. The images displayed on screens are also often more crude than those printed on paper, and, unlike paper, screens transmit light rather than reflect it. Issues of screen resolution and luminance are addressed in a later section on typography. Screen size and orientation, though, affect the designer’s decisions about the arrangement of visual elements on a screen and so are considered in the context of our discussion of design.

      This is a great quote because it is instructing us to be knowledgeable about how the user will interact with the products and content we create.

      We don't know exactly how the end user will view our content. They could be using a smart phone, desktop, I-pad or 1999 Gateway computer and will need to be able to access the information just as easy across all of these the devices. In the case of the gateway computer, this may not be possible, but as we learned with universal design, this should be something we aspire to as we try include as many audiences as we can.

      During my undergrad last decade, I was a film minor and was privileged enough to land an actual film production class. Something that has always stuck with me is how we were instructed to edit our sound in our films for the speakers we would be presenting on. In our case it was a basement projector set up in GCB (Langdale Hall). We actually spent the night in the building editing on the large projector screen to make sure our sound was as crisp as possible per the speakers that were attached to the projector. Since many others edited their sound in high end head phones, their sound was actually worse when played to lesser quality speakers. To make a long story end, we need to be thinking of audience in our design, but also how exactly the content we create will be viewed and plan for that specifically if possible for the best possible results.

    8. As Tullis notes, “Visual groupings have a significant effect on the semantic interpretations that users assign to the information” (1988, p. 390). Elements that are visually grouped (see Figure 4) will likely be perceived as “associ­ated” with one another. Similarly, elements on a screen that share the same color or texture or orientation, even if spatially separated, are interpreted as being related in some meaningful way. Unrelated elements, of course, should be visually different or spatially separated from one another.

      This quote is interesting since this was a part of our lecture last week. The most intriguing aspect of this quote goes back to how good design can also use elements of psychology.

      Tullis explaines, "Visual groupings have a significant effect on the semantic interpretations that users assign to the information". Tullis, as well as Williams, is writing about how we as humans can be pre-wired in a sense to take in information in a certain way easier than others. By grouping information into "chunks" we perceive multiple elements to be related to each other since they have been grouped together. We assume that because something is next to something else, they must be connected without really even really thinking about it.

      So if we apply this concept to our own designs, we can group certain text, images or data together without explicitly explaining how they are connected and many people will believe them connected just by their proximity to the other. This is handy when trying to create content that needs to be read quickly. By grouping content and information in this way can say more with less.

    9. "Backgrounds, consequently, should be, as far as possible, devoid of pattern or, if esthetic considerations demand that they be patterned, be very subtle or muted." (pg. 2, Lynch and Horton 1999)

      The above quote points to something so simple that it can easily be overlooked. A background should be simple, that's why it is the background. Think of it as a band with a talented lead singer. The lead singer (the content) is the main attraction. The back up vocalists (the background) are there to support the lead singer (the content). They must know their roles for the entire show to be a success. It was never Smokey Robinson and Jeff, Carl and Glenn. It was Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. There must be order.

      When we add different patterns and bold colors that contrast with the beautiful content we've just created we are doing ourselves and possibly our employers a disservice since the content will not be as useful or in some cases even hard to look at for long periods of time. While thinking about design, everything must work in concert for us to achieve the best results. We may not always get there, but we need be to striving towards that goal.

    10. "In general, elements that contrast greatly with their backgrounds (black on white - or white on black - shows the most contrast) are relatively easy to see even when they are very small." (pg. 1)

      I think by adhering to this quote we can easily achieve content that is easier to understand. Users will be accessing this information quickly, so by creating a clear and easy to comprehend layout using these simple color combinations, we can achieve more effective writing.

      We may want to add more colors to a website, but we must being thinking about how someone will be able to read it if they are on their computer or on their mobile device of choice especially. If our writing is somewhat legible on a large screen, it may be nearly impossible to read on a smaller screen. The good news is that this aspect of design can be easily applied by committing to product testing. But we must also understand that we may at times become too close to the work and having another person not ourselves to test our work will also improve our chances of creating easy to understand content.

    11. Typically, suggestions for optimum screen den­sity range from 25 percent to 60 percent.

      Worth noting

    12. Simply, elements that are logically coordinate ought to be treated graphically in the same way. Subordinate elements ought to appear less prominent than superordinate elements, and elements that are closely tied to one another logically ought either to be grouped spatially or share some other perceptual attribute such as color.


    13. "White backgrounds provide the greatest contrast and, unlike colored backgrounds, are not susceptible to browser or monitor-induced change." (pg. 2)

      Just a good point.

  3. Oct 2016
    1. project reflections

      Would these be useful on my portfolio site? I'm sure they might help in an interview as far as showing my role in a project and my understanding of the field. Would these be considered more like after action reports?

    1. As Robert McRuer notes, disability does not designate a subset of humanity but a spectral prospect that haunts everyone: “If we live long enough, disability is the one identity that we all inhabit”

      To me this is one of the more interesting and saddening quotes of the article. Robert McRuer notes that as we age all of us will eventually succumb to one disability or another. This reminds me of the saying, "...we start dieing the day we're born". That hits home for me as well since I've seen my own vision degrade over the years. When I do not have my glasses on, I rely on familiar shapes and my memory of what certain words look like since I can't make out each individual letter.

      When we as technical writers are creating content whether for the web or any kind of print media, we need to be conscious of potential disabilities. When we write for the web, some of that content may always be on the web. People will age with the content. What could have been clear and effective writing in the present, could be confusing or even wordy in the future. There may be no solution to making sure our content is just as effective now as it will be 50 years from now. By planning for as many disabilities and trying to reach as many audiences by using every mode possible, we as writers could get close this Utopian ideal. As I learned from a Lynda.com tutorial, good writing is already SEO optimized. I believe that applies to all writing. Good writing is good writing. Shakespeare lives on because his content was good enough to outlive changes in language. By accounting for disabilities we too can improve the chances of our writing outlasting ourselves.

    2. One curious aspect of our DSDJ discussion in 2014 was discomfort with the lack of audio or captions in the video clips, as they made content “inaccessible” by one set of embodied norms (i.e., UD principles requiring embedded features for internet users with visual impairments).

      When I'm performing chores around the house, I like to have something visual on in the background. Usually that takes the shape something on Netflix, usually The Office or some kind of sporting event. However, sometimes I get adventurous and I will put a movie on that has subtitles. I then find that when I am sweeping the floor I can't just listen to the noise and speech and understand generally what is going on. I have to keep looking up to read the subtitles. Then I stop cleaning.

      I thought of this when I read this quote by Jonathan. There were video clips during the discussion but those who were hearing impaired would have trouble understanding the content when they can't hear what is being said, especially if that audio is voice over. While I'm not trying to compare my difficulty to theirs, a user's interaction with the video content can be hampered without proper attention to something as simple as subtitles. I find it interesting that even hip hop concerts are beginning to incorporate ASL translators too sign the lyrics of the song. This is something I find massively impressive as some rappers rap faster than others. This way even though there are no subtitles, someone who is deaf can understand what is being said and follow along.

      As people become more conscious of those with disabilities I look forward to see how languages like ASL could be incorporated into more public events in the future.

    3. As I reflect on that conversation today, I realize that the uneven media functionality of DSDJ presented an awkward social reality for the workshop attendees: much of this Deaf-oriented journal was inaccessible to a hearing majority (i.e., online content was only partially accessible to non-ASL users). As a hearing person who does not know much ASL, I find it intriguing that a commentary section on the topic of audism or “audiocentric privilege” does not provide a link to a PDF that I can read in written English (perhaps one might appear in the future)

      I find this passage interesting since Jonathan was confronted with his own "audiocentric privilege" by attending a DSDJ event that was geared primarily for those who speak American Sign Language and he, as a non-ASL attendee, was left out of many of the proceedings due to his lack of linguistic (American Sign Language) understanding.

      We spend so much time thinking about how someone who is deaf is left out, but very rarely are we personally experience what this is like in real life. Traveling to other countries I have come close to this feeling since I did not speak Italian or French (the French didn't appreciate me trying to speak German) and was left out of conversations, billboards and television. Like I assume a deaf person would, I needed to pay attention to facial movements and hand gestures.

      Something that could help us all is to try to attempt to watch a video without sound, take notes and see if we come close to figuring out what the actual film is about without listening. This again could apply to our website since any video we could use, could benefit from having a video that is accessible to the deaf by adding subtitles and transcriptions, which also increase optimization.

    4. George Williams, in his “Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities,” advocates that the field of Digital Humanities adopts the principles of Universal Design.[10] Ron Mace, working in architecture, developed “the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.”[11] I very much agree with Williams.

      I find this passage interesting in that Ron Mace explains what it is that we technical writers are trying to do. He explains that in (information) architecture, all products and environments need to be "usable to the greatest extent possible..." He also mentions and I agree, that this connects very well with the article by George Williams.

      The idea of universal design is to include as many audiences as possible. We may never reach them all, but in the pursuit of that lofty ideal we will find the most success as technical writers.

      I also like that Mace uses the word "environment". This is a great way to describe how we interact and will continue to interact with websites for example, in the future. In creating this content, we are creating an environment that should be usable to multiple audiences. By creating an environment for just one small audience we are creating content that has bad usability and will eventually become obsolete as users find better and more efficient ways to communicate.

    5. ] In their opening “Access Statement,” Yergeau et al. acknowledge that “Universal design is a process, a means rather than an end. There’s no such thing as a universally designed text. There’s no such thing as a text that meets everyone’s needs. That our webtext falls short is inevitable.

      Universal Design is a necessary ideal when trying to appeal to as many audiences as possible. I like how Yergeau et al acknowledges that universal design is a "means rather than an end". In both readings, I believe that the ideals of universal design to reach all audiences may be impossible, but the pursuit of it is worth the trouble. He also goes on to explain that there will never be a text that is all things to all people. I believe that this means we need to strive to achieve universal design, but also know in the back of our minds that it may be impossible. Since the purpose of technology is to assist humans, our job is to assist those humans by doing our best to apply the concepts of universal design to our work. There may always be someone that is left out of our designs, but as long as we try to include as many people as we can we will find ourselves included on the team as well as employed.

    6. Eccentric and extraordinary bodies have the potential to puncture the illusion of the universal that UD champions, disorienting and, more importantly, reorienting how we conceive of access and equality

      I think this is a great quote about how the world has and does view those with special needs. As a past history major one always has to research a little more when the word "eccentric" is used. Often that word can describe a whole litany of conditions when used in older texts.

      I also like the phrase that Rick uses, "Eccentric and extraordinary bodies have the potential to puncture the illusion of the universal..." People that have special needs are actually the people that can be the reason that the needle of technology is pushed forward. As Williams mentions, "All technology is assistive in the end." Some may look at those with disabilities as holding back efficiency by requiring assistance. But that assistance is what can push technology forward, especially when applied to universal design. By making technology easier to use for as many audiences as possible, we are improving not only the tech but helping puncture the illusion that Rick mentions in the above quote.

    7. by building environments, physical and digital, that provide barrier-free access, then People with Disabilities can function more independently, and with less reliance on other people

      This is a definition that comes up again in William's article about Universal Design. Building physical and digital environments can provide barrier free access to people with disabilities. By doing this with Universal Design those with disabilities can operate more independently and rely on humans less. But Rick goes on to explain that at times, technology fails and humans can still offer assistance that technology cannot yet provide.

      I can understand that when one goes through life with special needs, they may start to feel like a burden to the people around them. This guilt can force someone to use technology, especially if that person doesn't have anyone they can depend on to help them consistently. Technology can fill that gap. But as the author explains there are limitations, but those limitations are what will fuel future innovation.

    8. Since ASL is a kinetic language using embodied actions including manual gestures and facial expressions as grammar, Flash Video clips are crucial for content.

      American Sign Language uses embodied actions, manual gestures and facial expressions. Jonathan explains that all of these expressions are crucial in creating a system of grammar for those with speaking disabilities. He mentions that Flash Video clips are crucial for content. I'm not sure how exactly this helps, but in my own experience I have seen this help with autistic and disabled children from my time as a substitute teacher with Atlanta Public Schools.

      During my day with an elementary level special needs class I noticed that at times the students could easily work on a task such as math for a few minutes, no longer, before losing interest or becoming frustrated. However, when they were placed in front of a computer and provided a video about math, they were not only immediately engaged, but visibly happier. Having taken this class thus far, I now find that experience even more interesting considering our reading assignment. When other modes of communication were presented to children with learning disabilities the same information that had minutes before been ignored on paper was now, it seemed, being learned and a more full comprehension accomplished.

      In our strategy, we need to see where we might be able to add a video or a visual element that may help not only a child, but an adult as well. These children will eventually become adults and will need this type of assistance in the future. Since technical writers are in the business of taking something that is complex and making it simpler and easier to understand, it would behoove us think about this when possible in creating our content. Text only content is boring to most, but with someone who may be suffering from a learning disability it could be almost impossible to understand the material. This would be very frustrating if the content was a necessary part of their daily life.

    9. Media theorist Jane Bringold observes that UD is not a discrete goal but a “Utopian ideal” (47).[1] No platform will ever be accessible across every language (spoken, written, signed), every medium, and every embodied difference (sensory, motor, cognitive)

      I believe that Jane Bringold is correct in her assertion that Universal Design is a bit Utopian. The "Utopian Ideal" of Universal Design seems more theoretical than practical. I would compare this to translating languages in literature. There are words, phrases and feelings that may not exist in one language but are very important and intrinsic in another. To me, in translating different media to other mediums, there will always be something that is lost. Whether just watching a movie with no sound and subtitles or reading a book and then viewing the movie, elements of the original content will be lost for different audiences. Therefore striving for a that "Utopian Ideal" is not a worthless endeavor since it will bring us closer and closer to Universal Design and thus closer better comprehension of content. But there may always be a slight disconnect between mediums. So when applied to technical writing, I believe that our goal is to get as close as we can to Universal Design so that our content can be as inclusive and effective as possible. The more audiences the content can speak to, the more valuable that content can be. Also, the more valuable the creator/writer of that content will be...

    10. This current user interface fittingly forces me to confront my own audiocentric (and Anglophone) privilege. I find myself navigating a linguistic environment that is only unevenly or partially configured for my use.

      This passage is quite interesting since I too after reading this article, had to confront my own "Anglophone privilege". While playing guitar with a band, I use my ears to listen to the notes of the bass guitar and the rhythm of the drums to find out where I need to come in. When I work I use my ears to listen to any and every noise related to a segway. I have a 6th sense now. I know every way a segway can sound when it hits something. I honestly can't imagine trying to do my job without my hearing. It would be possible, but much more difficult. This why I was very worried when I had a potential loss in hearing at an indoor gun range. WEAR HEARING PROTECTION. Or don't shoot guns.

      But some people do have to perform their jobs without the use of their ears or eyes.

    1. Second, universal design is efficient

      This to me is one of the best reasons to apply Universal Design. Since the goal of Universal Design is to create design that can be used by as many people as possible, creating a website that can do that would be efficient.

      Since I am not in any of the tech industries quite yet, I can assume from experience with my wife and mother, designing for special needs communities doesn't seem to a common goal for a few companies. That is not to say these are bad places necessarily, but that aspect of design may not be a priority. But, what if in the near future, websites are required to be ADA compliant just like a building? In this case the website would need to be re-engineered to accommodate a new audience when that audience could have been accommodated for from the beginning.

      As tech writers if we apply Universal Design to our own work than we will be doing exactly what we have read about and discussed in class, reaching as many audiences as possible. Universal Design is also another reason to apply as many modes as possible to our content so that the information can be comprehended as efficiently as possible to some one who is blind, deaf or otherwise impaired. All of this improves efficiency for not only the company or non-profit creating the product or content, but the user as well.

    2. We would never use a proprietary format for preserving and sharing our work, in part because to do so would be to exclude those people who cannot afford or do not have access to the necessary software to use that format. However, few of us think twice about whether or not the format we have chosen and the design choices we have made exclude disabled people.

      This section caught my attention in that it is outlining how in the academic world, many professors might balk at using a proprietary software to share their work, but may not give a second thought as to how the format or design of their content could exclude others (current professor not included...) all the same.

      This grabbed my attention since I'm not sure I would think that way at first as well. In my opinion, the academic world is a perfect place to begin implementing universal design elements where possible. Looking at my own blog, I'm very confident that there was no thought into how someone with a disability or someone who is unable to access a computer could process the information I have assembled. To go off the first part of this article, I have a "free" blog because I have paid my tuition. So technically it is a proprietary format as well.

      One step I could begin within my own blog is to simply try to access and use it from my cell phone. Is there another theme that makes the content easier to scroll through? Could my fonts be bigger or bolder? Would it be possible to add pertinent videos that have subtitles? I think trying to add elements of universal design will be good training to get my mind rolling in that direction when thinking about my own work in the future. This will only make me more employable as well.

    3. We might consider, however, that there is no “natural” way to interact with the 1’s and 0’s that make up the data we are interested in creating, transmitting, receiving, and using; there is only the model we have chosen to think of as natural. All technology is assistive, in the end.

      I find this to be a great summation of technology, "All technology is assistive, in the end". Whether it's the first wheel or the first calculator, technology in the end is advanced by the need to assist humans. The first robot I ever saw was built for the purpose of assisting humans within the home. To someone with a disability this could change their life.

      When we think about technology, there is no reason why it shouldn't be used to help those who are blind read a book or a website homepage. In the end Williams mentions, "...there is no "natural" way to interact with the 1's and 0's that make up the data we are interested in creating...". This too goes back to our job as tech writers and information architects. In some cases we are making a world that is full of 1's and 0's more accessible to as many people as possible. If technology's primary goal is to assist humans, than it is our goal to assist them with their interactions with that technology. Whether that includes web design or content management, in the case of my own service learning project, we are adapting a piece of technology to a larger audience by making the website easier to use.

      It would then make sense that we would use technology to assist those who need the most assistance. By adapting technology to meet the needs of the disabled, we are fulfilling the mission of technological innovation itself, to create an easier world for humans.

    4. Digital knowledge tools that assume everyone approaches information with the same abilities and using the same methods risk excluding a large percentage of people. In fact, such tools actually do the work of disabling people by preventing them from using digital resources altogether

      When different forms of media exclude approaches that could cater to those with disabilities they lose out on reaching an audience that has traditionally been marginalized in media. As Williams points out, "...using the same methods risk excluding a large percentage of people". In business, especially when that business is centered around media and it's different forms, reaching as many people as possible is imperative. Content drives viewership and viewership drives advertising. By creating content that can be used by not only those without disabilities but by those with them, the potential audience for the content can increase greatly. This is what makes the idea of Universal Design so interesting. While many seem to argue that true Universal Design may be unattainable, the effort to create content that is close, is a step in the right direction.

      When we go out into the real world, we may be writing to an audience that is older, blind, deaf or even autistic. Our content needs to apply the ideals of Universal Design to make content that can reach as many of these different audiences as possible. Again, it may not be attainable. However, we need to try. Plus, 3 out of 4 from the list above isn't bad either. That number may fluctuate, but as we write we should be thinking somewhere in our brains, "what if a deaf person had to use this?" "if they wanted to, could they?". This type of thinking drives innovation in regards to how we cater to populations with disabilities.

    5. This image would be invisible to sighted users, but those listening to the page with screen-reading software—which reads aloud the alt attributes of images embedded in an HTML page—could use that GIF as their cue to jump past what they did not need to hear in order to get to the information that they did want to hear.

      This passage from Williams blows my mind. To think that a gif that is so small and basically invisible to me, a sighted person, is seen so clearly to a blind person is fascinating. This is a great example of how technology within in literature is changing the industry but also bringing in an audience that has been left behind. This aspect of Universal Design to me is fascinating because this is an actual application of Universal Design in a tangible way. To someone who can see, this is a normal website. But by adding small elements like a gif, someone who can't see is now able to skip ahead of content the way most of us skip immediately with our eyes. On top of that, the content can be read so quickly that even those of us who can hear, would find the content unintelligible.

      In today's world of digital media and online content, writers need to write in a way that is respectful of the reader's time. As a sighted person, I can just scan a website for the information that I find pertinent. By adding this small gif, a blind person can now do the exact same thing and skip to the information they find pertinent. Many websites are not built this way, which means according to Williams, they have to sit through the content on a particular website as their screen reading software gives them a word for word description of a home page. Most people hate waiting for the different options when listening to an automated phone system, they probably haven't had to sit through a screen read of an older, text heavy website.

      Technology is closing the gap between those who are disabled and those who are not. Our journey will be to continue to improve their lives by thinking of them when we are creating content and trying to reach for the largest audience bases we can.

    6. Another frequently cited example of universal design is the sidewalk curb cut; initially created to allow people in wheelchairs to cross the street more easily, curb cuts became recognized as useful also to other people such as someone making a delivery with a dolly, a traveler pulling luggage on wheels, a parent pushing a child in a stroller, or a person walking beside their bicycle.

      This passage in the article details the benefits of Universal Design with a great, but simple example. Williams explains how the creation of a simple "curb cut" in a side walk that was created to assist people in wheel chairs could also have unintended benefits unknown to the creator.

      Williams writes that curb cuts could also be used when, "making a delivery with a dolly...pulling luggage on wheels...pushing a child in a stroller". By trying to solve one problem, the curb cut actually solved numerous problems. Another example would be using captions and an accompanying transcription for a video. While the captions and transcriptions help the deaf watch the video, they also increase search optimization as well as helping non-disabled users understand the content even better.

      So while we can solve one problem by applying universal design, we may also be able solve problems we didn't even think about just by being open to trying something new and different. As technical writers we should keep this open minded approach and try to see what we do from the point of view of the user.

    7. While professionals working in educational technology and commercial web design have made significant progress in meeting the needs of such users, the humanities scholars creating digital projects all too often fail to take these needs into account.

      I find this passage intriguing on a few levels. The first is that the improvements in how those with disabilities interact with different forms of media has come from the business world. That shouldn't be too surprising since they are in the business of making money and in this specific case, helping to improve the lives of those who may not be able to hear or see. Making "significant progress in meeting the needs of such users" is in their best interest. This opens up their companies' products to new audiences that had not been catered to previously. This connects with the article by Goddard and Hsy as they seem to be making a connection between the advancement in technology and the advancement Universal Design. By making an article (this one is a great example) interactive and as user friendly to as many audiences as possible, they are creating a path for more profit.

      The second is the notion that scholars involved in the humanities are lagging behind in the creation of or application of digital products that could help those affected by a disability. To me, I would expect this group to be leading the charge of advancement. Of course, there could be many reasons for this. One is funding. A University is not quite a business (that line is blurred) and does not operate necessarily like a business. Departments have budgets and the professors do what they can with what they have. I would assume many tech forward (rich) universities have made an effort to cater to groups with disabilities. However, there other universities that may not have the same budget and are thus forced to use the technology they have handy, which may be a textbook and a power point presentation.

      For both groups, their work needs to reach as many people and audiences as possible for it have the best possible results. Whether that is research about the hearing impaired or a physical product to help the blind read the same article, the more audiences they can include, especially with disabilities, the better.

    8. Third, applying universal design principles to digital resources will make those resources more likely to be compatible with multiple devices

      As technology advances further, I believe we will see content being shared on more devices than ever. I believe that Williams is right in his assertion that "...applying universal design principles to digital resources will make those resources more compatible..." I found this interesting since much of my own writing on the subject thus far has been focused on how universal design can help different special needs communities. However, what I have been missing all together is how universal design can help make content more accessible to other groups as well.

      Smith points out later that, "...those more likely to use a mobile device for online access include African Americans, Hispanics, and individuals from lower income households." When we are applying universal design to our content and strategy we need to be thinking about other devices than just a laptop or desktop computer. A cellphone may be someones only connection to the internet and the content needs to be accessible to them as well.

      In our own service learning project, we saw that the functionality and design of Center Civic Innovation's website was a bit clunky. However, just for fun we decided to see what the site looked like on a cell phone. To our surprise, the functionality was better! So after reading this article, that makes sense and in our work for the Center for Civic Innovation in the future we will need to be cognizant as to how our content functions on other devices.

    9. To embrace accessibility is to focus design efforts on people who are disabled, ensuring that all barriers have been removed. To embrace universal design, by contrast, is to focus “not specifically on people with disabilities, but all people” (Mace).

      Universal Design as mentioned in the article is a concept centered around the idea of designing all products and environments to be usable to as many people as possible. Universal Design is also a theme that runs through the Goddard and Hsy article as well. From these two articles, when finding ways to improve access to technology for people with disabilities, Universal Design has to be a part of the discussion.

      Audiences are the most important aspect of creating content. We need to know who we are writing for and make sure our content can be easily accessed by that audience. As we have learned, we want to reach as many different audiences as possible so that our writing can be as effective as possible. We have also discussed how adding as many modes as possible to our work can increase the effectiveness of our work. All of these elements lend perfectly to assisting those with disabilities.

      If we are increasing accessibility we should be planning on how we could potentially help those with special needs. They are a part of "all people" as mentioned in the article. I would think being able to reach special needs audiences could make a writer very marketable since many writers may think of audience in terms of race, age, sex and education.

  4. Sep 2016
    1. Dominika Bednarska, for instance, examines how voice recognition software for the visually impaired could be seen to eliminate the need for assistants and note-takers

      Giving away more American jobs to robots.

    1. Too many writers seem eager to craft"perfect" prose with the writing aspects overriding thecommunication issues inherent in the specific audienceand task.

      I find this passage interesting since it seems to to imply that some writers put themselves ahead of their audience. I would think that technical writing is at it's best when it's useful to the end user, not the one who crafted it. This brings me back to a central theme in the article which is that the role of technical communicators is changing. Writers can no longer crank out a manual and call it a day. The work is a living breathing thing. This type of communication is designed for multiple audiences and with advances in technology, usability testing is now a crucial part of this as well. The work is never quite done. The user needs to always be front and center in the minds of the technical writer when working on any project.

    2. emem-ber, the user cares nothing about how the manual is automat-ically generated through nifty scripts that assemble XML frag-ments and create a FrameMaker file for final editing. The usercares only that the correct information is provided in thecorrect format at the point when it's needed.

      While explaining the effects of technology on the field of technical communication Albers details how the need to write for multiple audiences should not be lost as the field is attacked with more and more software.

      He is correct, the end user could care less how the information is made, all they want to do is be able to use it as efficiently as possible when it is done. So even though we are changing how we make certain deliverables, the audience is still just as important. The product is a failure if the audience it is intended for doesn't want to or can't use it. Like we discussed in class, the more audiences we can appeal to the more effective our writing will be.

    3. A possible alternative, he says, is for techni-cal communicators to become the problem solvers anddesigners who will create the content management sys-tems and document databases

      This quote by Gregory Williams adds an interesting angle to how the roles are changing. One of the labels for technical writers that I've seen tossed around is that of Information Architect. Williams points out in the above quote that technical communicators need to transform into the problem solvers and designers that create the actual CMS's and databases that even Pullman and Gu discuss in "Rationalizing and Rhetoricizing Content Management". Even in "Records as Genre" by Catherine Schryer, the need for more effective problem solving skills in graduating students is behind the adoption of the POVMR system of record keeping. The ability to be apart of the problem solving process to me will ensure more active participation in future work. We as communicators are here to solve problems and the more ways we find to solve them, the better.

      Technical communicators need to have a hand in the creation of these systems or be relegated to lesser roles as Williams suggests. We as the writers have an opportunity to shape our own destinies if we choose to.

    4. Without the ability to coherently participate in theconversation occurring around the cross-functional andinterdisciplinary team table, technical communicators riskeither being left off the team because they not assets orbeing relegated to the clerical position of taking notes andcleaning up the team's reports.

      I found this passage to be interesting because like much of the article, this passage illustrates how technical communicators need to be more than just writers. The need to learn and even understand the language of technology is more important than ever.

      This also hit home for me as I too am learning the language of technology. My wife will be the first tell you that I don't "do" computers very well. I'll admit during our lecture and lesson about basic html in regards to our Wordpress sites, I ran into a bit of a language barrier. So in reading this passage afterwards it all made total sense.

      As noted in “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designed Social Futures” by the New London group, they go on to state that, “With new worklife comes a new language. A good deal of this change is the result of new technologies, such as the iconographic, text and screen based modes of interacting with automated machinery; “user-friendly” interfaces operate with more subtle levels of cultural embeddedness than interfaces based on abstract commands.”

      After re-reading this passage what Albers is stating above fits right in. We the communicators have to stay current with the language of technical communication which means that we must stay current with technology. If a technical communicator is unfamiliar with the technology used by the teams they work with, they will be left behind. A worse case scenario would be that a writer that does speak the language is hired to take their place.

      This brings up a question as well. How are the different modes of communication changing? Do they change? Like genre, do they evolve?

    5. he panelists at the conferenceagreed that that management and business knowledge are amajor missing piece in the typical technical communicator'stoolbox of soft skills.

      A word that pops up this article as well the article by Pullman and Gu, "Rationalizing and Rhetoricizing Content Management", is content manager. Technical writers are not just writing the content but in today's job market they are also managing the content which means a closer relationship with new and different technology. Once the content is on the web, it does not go away and must be monitored and maintained.

      The business side will always be looking a for new technology to find a way to streamline the business and make more money. This means that technical communicators will be apart of this process whether crafting communication for internal use or the users the technology may be intended to help.

    6. he vendors whoprovide tools sell them with a hype-filled message of howtheir products will revolutionize the business and thenprovide training on only the basic operation of the tool.Issues of how the technology applies to the business andhow a tool relates to the other tools and technologies in thecompany are neglected. Or, to parody a textbook, themethods of integration are left for the writer to solve.

      While most of this article is explaining how the roles of technical writers are changing, this passage explains how there will also be job security in the future. Like we discussed in class today, if our boss wants an app, we would be told to make the app happen. In this case, a business is buying software, but they are only concerning themselves with the surface level tech requirements. It falls upon the technical communicators to facilitate the integration of that software into the existing systems of that business, which includes integrating humans into the new system as well. After reading "Rationalizing and Rhetoricizing Content Management" by Pullman and Gu,sometimes these failures to foresee the integration doom the roll out of the new tech/software over all.

    7. . And more thanjust understanding the individual technologies, we need toconsider how they interact and influence each other. Notechnology exists alone, no matter how much we try toisolate it

      As Albers concludes the article he makes sure to add one more gem. Technology does not exist alone. Software is built on other software and even code is built on existing code. There is a source. None of these systems exist in a vacuum. While we may be expected to help with the roll out of a new software, we will also be on the front lines trying to figure out how the new software will integrate with the current software. Technology is influenced by other other technology. The more we familiarize our selves with technology the easier it will be for us to keep up.

    8. Writing is only one element of pro-viding that information; to ignore the other elements is toensure both our long-term obsolescence and lack of powerand respect within the project team and corporation.

      This quote explains why the title "technical writer" is morphing in to "content manager" and "information architect". Albers mentions that "writing is only one element of providing information". I think given our readings and discussion of mode this is true. Trying to convey complex ideas in just one mode is a recipe for failure. While we need to find ways of conveying information in as many modes as we can we also need to be aware of how new technologies can help us in this problem as well. While we can add different modes of communication, there could also be an app based software for example, that packages these modes in way that a 10 year old understands better than if we use a written manual.

    9. Unfortu-nately, although there are six excellent articles in this issue, itis lacking one aspect I had wanted to cover. As Hackos pointsout in her commentary, most of the articles examine the "whatis" of the present rather than "what might be" in the future.

      This passage for me, brings to light how the study of technical writing is lacking. While many in the academic world seem to focus on the state of technical writing right now, Albers wants to focus more on "what might be". I think by creating a discourse that is grounded in the future of technical communication we can all become more proactive as the industry continues to evolve.

      When speaking about technology, the idea of "what might be" is a powerful one. New technology is created to solve a problem. That means technology can be created to solve existing problems, but also to solve problems that may not exist yet. By at least following the trends of where the next major developments in technology will come from, technical communication will always have a place in the modern business world.

      The need to understand where the industry is going, not where it is currently is the most important aspect of this article.

    10. It's very tough to drain the swamp when you spend allyour time battling alligators. Individuals need to strive to bemore integral, organizations such as STC and ACM SIGDOCneed to provide support for and push an agenda at a higherlevel than individuals can operate, and academic programsalso need to reexamine the core goals that technical com-munication graduates should possess (see the article byRainey, Turner, and Dayton in this issue).

      This to me, is one of the central points of not only this article but "Rationalizing and Rhetoricizing Content Management" by Pullman and Gu. We as technical communicators have to take it upon ourselves to evolve with the industry. Nothing is lost through more education, except ignorance. Sitting and waiting for the someone to tell us what we need to know to stay relevant is not going to happen because someone else already knows and they just took your job. In the previous paragraph, my favorite part of the article is Alber's definition of post-mortem planning, "...wondering how the company could outsource documentation to an overseas company and lay off writers who had produced perfectly written, unread manuals". To me this so perfectly lays out what happens when communicators become reactionary in regard to technology and not proactive.

      Of course changing how technical communication is taught will be helpful as well. Instead of client facing projects that simulate problem solving in the real world, we could be learning how to write a Nokia cell phone manual like Dr. Wharton mentioned today in class...

    11. In the past, we have certainly seen a trend towardintegration of technologies into writing. For example,hefore desktop puhlishing, one would not have expectedwriters to know much about font or layout, as they werespecialists in text, grammar, style, rhetoric, information,or any one of a number of fundamental "on the page"skills. After widespread adoption of desktop publishing,which put the means of production into every writer'shands, writers' joh descriptions were likely to include arequirement that they know layout software, under-stand typefaces and white space, and participate in thephysical publication process in ways that were previ-ously unheard of. (Carter 2003, p- 31

      Here Albers is quoting L. Carter from "The Implications Single Sourcing for Writers and Writing", who is explaining how technology has been integrated into the writing process of technical communicators. This is interesting since as I read his quote, I was able to recall my first time using MS Word in 1995 on my mother's laptop. To see how much has been added to the software since then is to see what a writer is now expected to understand. We are expected to already understand layouts and fonts as we transform into "information architects". The new requirements for technical writers will not be a mastery of MS Word, but of FrameMaker and other similar software. The more software changes and evolves the more we are expected to already be proficient in said software. As Albers mentions earlier, if we don't keep up we will find ourselves relegated to the sidelines.

    12. like programmerswho have been forced to work on teams, many writers stillwork alone or with only one or two other writers, and havethus been able to maintain the craftsman attitude. But thisattitude is, in the end, detrimental to their position within acompany and recognition by coworkers.

      teamwork makes the dream work. Having worked with a partner before, not always easy

    13. In an editorial, Hayhoe points out "to survive as a profession,technical communicators must be more than packagers ofinformation for the technically uninitiated. We must becomemasters of the domains in which we work" (2002, p. 397).

      Evolution into content strategists and mangers.

    14. Many of the problems an organization blames on tech-nology actually stem from social issues related to poor orinadequate communication.

      Clear communication can create more efficiency as more employees are able to properly apply their tech to their work.

    15. This change has thrust increasing numbers of technicalcommunicators and professionals in such diverse fields assoftware engineering, computer science, training, and hu-man factors into the product development mix together.The process of developing information products has be-come cross-functional and interdisciplinary. Functional dis-tinctions between those now at work in that process haveblurred

      I think with so many disciplines overlapping each other the power of genre and style are even greater. Multiple audiences and multiple modes.

    1. Connecting back to the ideas of audience and genre, on page 212, Schryer, while referencing "Bakhtin's most important insight" says "The change in speaking subjects determines the boundaries of the genre."

      Here he is speaking about audiences and their direct connection to genre. I too find this an interesting point in that genre is created by humans and that the humans that a piece of writing is intended for can dictate "the boundaries" of that genre. The audience determines the writing. Democracy in action.

      This to me is the central issue of this study. One of the problems that this article is seeking to address is that the students of this college were not communicating their own records very well. Their notes and writing were written for an audience of one (themselves) with no real thought as to who may need to read this information in the future.

      Their records and research which when presented for multiple audiences could be a part of a larger discussion, much like this one, are instead left out. To me this is a great disservice to the researchers in any field.

    2. An interesting part of genre is brought up by Schryer when he quotes Bakhtin who on page 224 says, "Addressivity is a genre's quality of being directed at someone."

      Genre is a created not only by the writer but by the audience. The information that is being gathered is being gathered with an end user in mind. This ties in with the article, "Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing" by Patricia Sullivan. The usability of the information creates value. The genre of record keeping is being directed at multiple audiences who need to be able to process the data quickly and clearly.

      The veterinary student taking notes about a wounded horse knows that his information, as a part of this genre, must be written in a way that can be understood and usable by multiple audiences. So by sticking to the guidelines of the genre, the data will be presented in a way that others will be able to easily understand.

    3. An interesting aspect of record keeping is that by creating the record, it becomes real. Schryer quotes Catherine Pettinari on pg. 204-205 when she writes, "medical records, besides providing means of communication and planning, actually come to represent the patients themselves."

      I found this so interesting because in the medical field, the patient is the record and vice versa. By creating a record of not only a patient's visit, but their problems or symptoms, those problems become real as well. They are now a matter of record. They can be searched for and found.

      This also connected to a larger theme of the study which is that if the record represents the patient than the record must be thorough and written not only for the use of the medical professional who is creating the record, but everyone who may read it afterwards, including the patient themselves.

    4. All the way back on page 202, Schryer makes an interesting point about observational notes. She writes, "Observational notes contained detailed descriptions of what I observed and detailed reconstructions of conversations that used as much of the "original" language of participants as possible."

      While interviewing countless students and faculty she seems to take note of her own note taking. Many were observational while others more analytical. I think in regards to technical communication, observational notes can be extremely important as they can combine multiple modes of communication. Through observation one can note the sights, sounds and even feeling of an environment.

      In the field for example, she can record not only what she sees, but what she hears and can physically touch. These notes have the potential to be viewed by multiple audiences, just like these annotations. By recording her observations linguistically she is able to combine the visual, aural, spatial and gestural modes of communication to create a clear record for not only her use, but other audiences in the future.

      Through strong note taking that combines as many modes as possible, the author is then able to create a clear understanding of the problem and thus and strong diagnosis.

    5. A big question I have is how is Genre monitored? After reading, genre is created humans as a set of loose-ish standards. Is it up to the individual writer to choose a genre and define their own parameters within it? Does that really matter in the real world or is this an academic specific issue? What I got from the article is that genre creates a set of rules to operate within, but are purposefully left open ended as not to stifle creativity.

    6. At the bottom of page 201 and top of page 202, Schryer explains her methods of note taking during her study. Based on the lecture on Tuesday I found it interesting that the author references "triangulation" and using "a variety of methods" (interviews, observation, doc collection) combined with varied sources creates the best data just like the combination of modes can create the best written product. I find the aspect of triangulation interesting since she is using multiple methods that on their own are not as useful but when combined with her other research help paint a vivid picture of the study she was apart of. The clearer the picture the better the result. In this case this means a better diagnosis.

    7. "The addressee in the case of the exam, and I would argue in the case of medical records, is a reader who is prepared to "read" a great deal of tacit information into these accounts."

      Addressivity can define genre in that who the information is being prepared for will influence the style and delivery. As we discussed in class today (9/6/16), who the work is intended for will heavily influence not only genre but the style and language that are used as well. As technical writers, I believe there should always be an effort to communicate in as broad a manner as the subject matter will allow. The more audiences that can be reached the more impactful the writing or "deliverable".

    8. On page 202, Schryer writes that "Traditional ethnographic research often includes a map in order to help locate readers."

      I think this goes back to what we discussed in class about connecting different modes to bring about further understanding of the subject. Through visual and linguistic modes a map is able to convey more information that can then be comprehended faster. But for the sake of this article, Schryer is creating a metaphorical map linguistically to tie in all the disparate elements of the college together to create context for the study. After reading more about different modes in "Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal projects", the map itself intrigues me as it can orientate a reader almost instantly while also visually displaying pertinent information.

    9. After reading about the needs of a thorough system of record keeping, it's interesting to notice on page 215, that even though many within the college recognized that the Problem Oriented Veterinary Medical Record system was a better system for recording data, they were hesitant to switch from the System Oriented Record system.

      Dr. Lawrence Weed created the POVMR system to replace the SOR system because the SOR system was not focused enough on problem solving. Schryer writes on page 215, "Weed saw the possibility that records could be redesigned to imitate a specific medical problem solving process."

      In my opinion it seems that POVMR is a better record keeping system in the field while SOR is more accepted in academic settings. The POVMR mode of record keeping could also remove students from the staccato rehearsing of terms and definitions by immersing them in real world problem solving scenarios thus hopefully avoiding the symptoms of Green Grad Syndrome. In the end, the POVMR system creates more detailed records that are then easier to share as well as fulfilling the need for students to write with other audiences in mind. More data can only help in the mission of creating a better diagnosis. By using this system the data created by the students can be used as a part of a much larger data pool in which veterinarians from other parts of the world could search for and reference their findings for their own diagnosis. This gets back to the notion that genre is a set of loose guidelines that can help veterinarians and technical communicators figure out what works and doesn't work in regards to audience.

    10. A constant theme in this article is that record keeping and audience should go hand in hand. A prime example of this can be found on page 220. Schryer writes, "A discussion with the record technicians revealed that new veterinarians would sometimes attempt to use the term "a poor doer" to describe an animal that essentially was not thriving. Such records would be returned for clarification because, according to the technicians, the term was too vague."

      While Schryer admits that veterinarians should avoid using "vet speech" they should also avoid language that is too broad. Their records should be as clear as possible so that the next person who reads them will not need to second guess what they are reading but will be able to continue where the previous person left off. When creating these records, the audience must be a consideration since that audience itself could also be quite broad.

    11. On page 204, Dr. L., a professor at the college in question and Dr. Schryer disagree fundamentally on what constitutes literacy. Schryer writes, "Dr. L. viewed literacy in terms of writing exams but did not see that the keeping of medical records was also a form of literacy."

      Will this opinion be a common one as I search for career in technical communication? By reading the article, I believe that record keeping is indeed a genre as well as a form of literacy. Elements of style and structure are necessary to provide records for a wider audience.

      As the needs of technical communicators change with the technology (Pullman, Gu, Albers), I'm wondering if the definitions of what is considered literacy will change with it.

    12. On pg. 211, Schryer notes that Miller as well as Bakhtin "...saw genre as a fusion of content and style." This quote caught me since I myself am trying to decode the "fusion of content and style" that is technical writing. Having graduated as a history major I wrote in order to prove a larger point. In technical writing I'm doing something similar by not necessarily proving my finely worded argument, but still searching the most concise and clear way to frame information for others to digest.

      During my undergrad, my audience was my professor. Not a soul on any of the construction sites I worked on after college cared about why I believed the end of the Cold War was one of the major facilitators of political change in South Africa in the early 1990's. But I have always looked for ways of explaining complex historical events in ways that my peers would not only listen to, but be genuinely interested in. This is one aspect of technical writing that has drawn my own attention.

      To me, taking complex subjects/information and distilling them into something easy and understandable is like putting a puzzle together. So reading about how Miller, Bakhtin and Schryer look at content and style in regards to Genre and record keeping to me illustrates what it is technical writers are doing. While Pullman, Gu and Albers tell us we are transforming into content manager hybrids, the basic elements of content and style within the genre are still the building blocks on top of which we can add more elements such as new software.

      Genre like electricity, like water is always moving. It can inhabit many forms and shapes, but it never stops evolving. Genre is a building block of style and content providing a path, but the path is never walled in. There is still room to navigate ones own path within it without ever losing sight of the destination. In technical communication we have to be exposed to as many modes and genres to further our own cause of communicating information that not only explains something complex, but can create genuine interest in something that was previously deemed too difficult. To me, that's awesome.

    13. "Terms", according to McLaughlin, "commit us to particular values, and if we are aware of these commitments, we can take the position we inhabit."

    14. "We grasp the meaning and structure of a literary work only through its relation to archetype" on genre

    15. "...genre is composed of a constellation of recognizable forms bound together by an internal dynamic." Miller (1984)

    16. "objectively neutral styles presuppose something like an identity of the addressee and the speaker, a unity of their viewpoints, but this identity and unity are purchased at the price of almost complete forfeiture of expression"


    17. coherent style allowed for rapid communication and efficient problem solving

    18. Using POVMR doctors are able to access records using key words from their own hospitals and hospitals around the country. Offers more and better research

    19. Genres are evolving and function as ideological vehicles that represent the values of certain groups within the speech community and not others.

    20. Going off our conversation on Tuesday, veterinarians are using different modes to record their data. Visual and oral signals are written down for further study when dealing with animals in the field.

    1. Interesting how the word "community" brings thoughts of inclusiveness but can also used to divide just as easily

  5. Aug 2016
    1. Discourses that were once the domain of the private - the intricacies of the sexual lives of public figures, discussion of repressed memories of child abuse - are now made unashamedly public. In some senses, this is a very positive and important development, insofar as these are often important issues that need a public airing

      Did they ever think this would morph into Keeping Up With The Kardashians?

    2. In the New World, it meant assimilating immigrants and indigenous peoples to the standardized "proper" language of the colonizer

      Is technology now becoming a way in which more developed first world nations can impose themselves on less technologically advanced nations? Nations that are not as technologically advanced may/will require the "assistance" of a first world nation or corporation to bring them into the future. Could this be seen as another form of colonization where IBM and Oracle are creating dependence in the developing world?

    3. designers of meaning

      new title

    4. that the disparities in educational outcomes did not seem to be improving

      This to me is an interesting summary of their meeting. I can see the disparity in education effecting the language used in modern writing, specifically when that writing is used to educate or explain. Keep it simple.

    5. Pedagogy is a teaching and learning relationship that creates the potential for building learning conditions leading to full and equitable social participation

      I think this is important since technical writing can a be a way to engage a reader in an otherwise specialized field, engaging the reader and providing encouragement to continue when done well.