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  1. Nov 2016
  2. techwritingf16.robinwharton.net techwritingf16.robinwharton.net
    1. In addition, STC could review its Code for Communicators, soliciting commentary from the membership and encouraging a comprehensive analysis of ethical issues. For example, STC might consider revising its directive “Hold myself responsible for how well my audience understands my message” to give it either more specificity or more emphasis.

      http://www.stcrmc.org/documents/open/resources-codeforcommunicators In the Code for Communicators, attached above, the requirement to hold oneself responsible for "how well an audience understands my message" seems vague and does not encompass issues of interpretation, only understanding. An effective way to phrase the statement could potentially be: Hold myself responsible and accountable for the various ways that an audience could interpret my message, based on societal factors.

    2. Are the consequences to the writer or to the profession unimportant? Do writers jeopardize their credibility by exercising the little deceptions of Question 2 (the pie chart), Question 4 (the evaluation), or Question 7 (the warranty)? Does success with a little deception encourage a writer to practice bigger deceptions? Do such practices damage the reputation of all technical communicators?

      Consequences of "little deceptions" are certainly something that technical writers should consider when presenting content, especially when utilizing visual aids such as charts. Examples of extremely unethical and poorly represented charts have become the norm on Fox News, which is a severely biased right-wing news outlet. For example, here, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/28/1251247/-One-Fox-News-chart-that-will-mislead-you-about-welfare-and-jobs-in-three-different-ways Fox News utilized a chart to demonstrate how many more people are apparently on welfare. Instead of counting adults, they included children and infants as well, and used an inflated scale, in order to make it look like there are more people on welfare than people with full-time jobs. Although most people know that Fox is biased, it also takes away from the credibility of other news outlets and turns "the media" into a bad word.

    3. Using typography to decrease readability, however, elicits a divided opinion, even though the practice opposes the earlier mentioned STC directive: “Hold myself responsible for how well my audience understands my message.”

      I believe that small typography is often used to decrease readability in technical writing for pharmaceuticals. When a pharmaceutical company, such as mega corporation Gildead Sciences wants to sell a medication, they must highlight the benefits of the drug as much as possible, while limiting the attention given to negative side effects. Gilead Sciences is the current manufacturer of wonder-drug Harvoni, which cures Hepatitis C. Harvoni also sells for over a thousand dollars a pill, so a total three- month treatment cycle for Hep C would cost around $96,000. Because of this price, Gilead is especially calculative in presenting the side effects of Harvoni. For example, on their website below, the side effects are listed individually on the right side of the page, and they ask users to "scroll to continue" all the way to the bottom of the page, making it very tedious to read. http://www.harvoni.com/discover-harvoni/about-harvoni?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search%20-%20Harvoni%20-%20Decision&utm_term=%2Bharvoni&utm_content=Harvoni%20-%20Broad&gclid=CPnp47jpqdACFVIngQodmacI3Q&gclsrc=ds

    4. The writer is being compensated to put his/ her organization in the best light (or color) possible. This is being accomplished in the pie chart.”• “ Making information inaccessible isn’t why I’m in this profession.”• “As a technical communicator, my purpose is to communicate information as accurately as possible.”

      These comments related to "Writer's Responsibility" relate back to the Purdue OWL article, In that article, it discussed the importance of accurately presenting information in graphs. I also noted that flowcharts can be tricky because an overwhelming or complicated flowchart can be so difficult to read that the information becomes virtually inaccessible. Here, the interviewees note that intentionally sabotaging the presentation of information in order to deceive viewers is completely unethical, as technical communicators are responsible for maintaining ethical practices.

    5. On Question 4, a plurality of men (26.9%) answered “ethics uncertain” while a plurality of women (34.6%) answered “completely ethical,

      Question 4 asked whether it was ethical to display strengths and weaknesses of an employee in different ways, in order to subtly hide the weaknesses. I believe the gendered difference in answers relates back to sexism in the workplace, which i mentioned on the first page. For example, womens' resumes are critiqued much harder than mens', particularly if a woman has a feminine and racialized name. Because of this, women are used to tweaking resumes to highlight positive traits and hide gaps in employment or low level jobs in ways that men don't have to. This experience led women to be more lenient in answering question 4. To read more about gender bias regarding resumes, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research has a great article: http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john-get-stem-job-rather-jennifer

    6. I distributed the survey to 33 professional technical communicators from five Dallas organizations and to 31 technical writing majors and minors enrolled in a senior-level course in technical and professional editing at Texas Tech University.

      I hypothesize that the technical writing students would be less likely to declare a situation to be unethical, due to lack of experience in the field. At the same time, there is also the argument that the students would be more likely to declare a situation to be unethical because they would want to be especially careful as new technical communicators.

    7. deleting “unsightly or unsafe items” is unethical

      I disagree that deleting "unsightly or unsafe items" is unethical because of one photo that surfaced across the news this year. In Ohio, a police department shared a photo as a warning against the dangerous affects of heroin use. the photo included two parents in the front seat of a car, passed out due to heroin overdose, with a four year old child in the backseat. The photo that the police department shared did not blur the child's face out, and when the lack of privacy was called into question, they stated that the graphic photo was to be a warning. However, I found the photo offensive and "unsightly" because the identity of the child was not concealed, so he could carry the burden of the photo for years. To read more on the tragic story and photo, click here: (trigger warning: drug use, child abuse) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/east-liverpool-ohio-heroin-photo-police-department-releases-disturbing-photos-of-suspects-in-car-with-child/

    8. This new rhetorical power, however, is also a source of peril for technical communicators because little research or guidance is available to identify the principles and practices that would lead to ethical document design.

      Another challenge that technical communicators could face is the fact that their work is often interdisciplinary in nature. As "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication" noted in Unit 1, the interdisciplinary nature of technical communication allows for increased collaboration and sharing of differing ideas and values. However, this also may lead to a lack of consensus regarding what is considered ethical practice. For example, while lawyers may use "boilerplate" legal text at times, this would be considered unethical in other fields.

    9. u have been asked to design materials that will be used to recruit new employees.You decide to include photographs of the company's employees and its facilities. Your company has no disabled employees. You ask one of the employees to sit in a wheelchair for one of the photographs. Is this ethical?

      This is an extremely difficult question to answer. In part, it appears ethical at the surface level, because the intent is to be inclusive and non-ableist. At the same time, asking an able-bodied employee to pose in a wheelchair would be deceitful, and thus, unethical. I think an ethical design choice that would demonstrate inclusivity and a positive workplace for people with disabilities would be to subtly display accessible areas of the facility, such as wheelchair ramps and elevators.

    10. In five of theseven cases, women are consistently more lenient or men consistently more strict intheir evaluations of ethics.

      I strongly believe that there are no biological cognitive differences between men and women, but I do believe this is directly related to the gendered socialization of the workplace. While men are applauded for being bold, assertive, and dominant, quite frankly, women are called "b*tches" for doing the same. Because of this type of socialization, I believe that women would be less likely to "call out" a situation due to an ethical issue, so as to not seem aggressive or mean.

    1. Using durable materials - materials should be able to survive ordinary "bumps and bruises

      Aside from the content of a poster, the actually quality of the poster, such as whether it has bends, folds, or scuffs, can aid-or inhibit- the credibility of the presenter. As this article noted above, format and layout are especially import in order to maintain an authors credibility. For example, a letter from a university professor should include the university title as well as a standard business letter format and an appropriate signature. Similarly, if a professor used a poster board to present research findings at a seminar, he or she would be deemed sloppy, unorganized, and less credible if his or her poster displayed significant wear and tear.

    2. Serif fonts areuseful for body text on a printed page, and sans serif fonts are often used forheaders. You also want to check to be sure the font is legible.

      I had never heard of the difference between sans serif fonts and serif fonts, but I find it interesting that sans serif fonts like Arial are more effective for headings, but not for body texts. Upon researching the difference further, I found that according to the blog Writing Spaces, sans serif fonts are often considered more "modern and clean," so their crisp style is often utilized on websites and other online texts. However, traditional "bookish" serif font is still easier to read when it comes to large bodies of texts like journal articles. To read more from Writing Spaces, click here: http://writingspaces.org/wwsg/serif-and-sans-serif-fonts

    3. A primary goal of graphic designers is to present content so that visual, design, andtextual content work in harmony to convey information and create the desiredeffect.

      Although this goal is related to graphic design, I believe that all technical communicators should strive to create harmonious content through following the four basic principles of graphic design. For example, my resume, which we workshopped in class, is not a graphic document, but I have aimed to follow the same principles. For example, on my resume attached below, I have made an effort to keep related information in close proximity to each other. I have also aligned subpoints with indentations to indicate that they fall under the above text. Third, I have utilized repetition by presenting details with identical bullet points. Lastly, I have used contrast by bolding my headings, which makes it easier to recognize the different sections.


    4. 2. Copyright and Permission information should accompany all images and be properly cited in the caption

      In "Rethinking Plagiarism for Technical Communication" the author discussed the difficulties that technical writing students have in understanding the nuanced interpretations of plagiarism within technical communication. I noted that the Creative Commons, which is also discussed in Writer/Designer: A Guide to Multimodal Projects, is an excellent source for finding visual resources through their collection of resources in which many, depending on their license, can be freely used without permission and without adhering to the fair use guidelines.

    5. Visuals should be chosen with consideration of how they will help you accomplishyour rhetorical goals in a given context, and they should serve a specific purpose.You will need to decide whether to include visuals at all and, if you do includethem, which kind of visuals you need and how to present them.

      Throughout the service learning project, I have learned the importance of choosing visuals that aid the rhetorical situation. At Our House, Sabine expressed concern regarding trauma and PTSD that many of the residence face. That being said, we are keeping those concerns in mind as we create our signage, especially in choosing the images that we use . For example, one of the signs that I have been working on regards emergency safety. In order to stay aware of the trauma history of the shelter, I should not include any images of wounds, as many of the women may have experienced domestic violence.

    6. Flowcharts include visual illustrations and arrows to show how a process unfoldsover time or how one idea or action leads to another. Flowcharts help writers showthe steps in a process. In the example above, the flowchart illustrates the processfor finding out the largest of three numbers

      Flowcharts are an excellent way to present information that includes a process or steps to be made, however some flow charts may be overly complicated, which distorts the presented information due to lack of readability. Here, I have included an example of a messy, complicated flowchart: https://s3.amazonaws.com/vetter/photos/102/continuous%20improvement%20strategies%20-%20complicated%20data%20flow.gif The flowchart is so overwhelming that I cannot see what information is being presented.

    7. A line graph showing revenue growth over time might have timeunits (e.g., months) placed horizontally and revenue units (e.g., dollars) vertically.

      Oftentimes, technical communicators may be responsible for presenting data or findings of a researcher, or analyzing data. In this circumstance, it may be difficult to remain concise while clearly explaining results. When this happens, technical communicators should consider utilizing SPSS, which stands for "Statistical Package for the Social Sciences." SPSS is a software that I have used for statistical analysis in both Political Science and Sociology courses. With SPSS, users can take hundreds of statistical findings from research, imput an independent and dependent variable (x and y axis) into SPPS, and create an easy to read line graph. Here, I have provided an example of a line graph that displays the relationship between ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and grades. http://www.restore.ac.uk/srme/www/fac/soc/wie/research-new/srme/modules/mod4/13/spss_logistic_regression_graph_-_interaction_line.jpg Line graphs like this one are especially useful because it saves the audience from reading several paragraphs of complicated information.

    8. C H A R T S A N D G R A P H S■ R e p re se n t d a ta vlsu a lya S h o w tr e n d s and relatio n sh ip s a m o n g variables■ D m * a tte n tio n to tlx* m o s t Im p o r­ta n t c o n clu sio n s t o b e draw n from nn analysis o f d a ta■ C o lle c t d a ta th ro u g h orig in a l re- s e a rc h o r n t Hera r e p o sito rie s e U se a sp re a d sh e e t p ro g ra m to c re ­a te c h a rts and g rap h

      Because visual content serves different functions, their utilization depends on the rhetorical situation. For example, in a peer-reviewed journal article for the Harvard Law Review, the primary visual aid that could be used, but still deemed appropriate for the content would be charts and graphs. In terms of design and layout, a peer reviewed article should also include a minimalist design that adheres to APA format, in order to ensure that design elements do not take away from the content and that the article itself follows the status quo of journal article format.

    9. Functions - Direct the reader's eye to the most important information, express hierarchies of value

      I believe that this is an extremely important factor of layout and format in technical communication that often goes unnoticed. I think that this is partially due to the way that students are taught to write academic essays. For example, when writing an argumentative essay with three main ideas, we are typically taught to present our two strongest ideas at the beginning and end of the body paragraphs, while squeezing less effective points in the middle. On the contrary, in technical communication it is most effective to place strongest points at the top or center of the document, as readers may become less engaged as they read towards the end of the document.

    10. Information graphics: Communicates technical information visually, ex. line graphs, bar graphs, pie charts, tables, flowcharts, diagrams, maps, etc.

      Attached is an information graphic or "infographic" on infographics. I find this one particularly effective because it utilizes several types of graphs and diagrams to display content. Although typical chart styles are used, the "key info" located in the bottom corner. I like this diagram because it utilizes an image of a key. In combining both a diagram and an image, the information sticks out to viewers.


  3. Oct 2016
    1. as they write to ensure that their content isreusable” (191

      The concept of "re-usability" in technical writing is an interesting one. The concept itself seems to be an issue of plagiarism, but it is actually an important factor of strong technical writing. In political research studies, a study is deemed to be "progressive" if it builds upon a previous finding or concept, rather than reiterating it. As in political research, technical writers must do the same. In order to produce "progressive" text or media that expands the body of knowledge in a particular area, they must build upon the information that has already been presented by others. In failing to do so, they are only repeating already-known information and not increasing usability or information on a subject. Thus, re-usable technical writing is vital to the continuation of strong technical communication.

    2. and us-ing boilerplates

      Boilerplates are an interesting and overlooked way that text is re-used in work settings in ways that would fall outside the parameters of traditional ideas about plagairism. A real-world example of a boilerplate would be sample bequest language. Oftentimes, nonprofit organizations will include sample bequest language that can be copied verbatim when an individuals makes a bequest in their last will and testament. It is extremely common to see identical sample bequest language in different sources, but it is accepted as text that is standard enough to be directly copied. There is no stated author or copyright on this form of boilerplate language. The challenge for students and technical communicators is in determining which texts are accepted as standard, especially outside of legal texts like bequest language.

    3. the “rules” that students have learned about plagia-rism.

      Here is an infographic that displays some of the guidelines that students are taught to follow in order to not plagiarize. A major problem displayed in the infographic is the fact that there is no reference to copyright and intellectual property laws, or the fair use doctrine. Instead, it is ingrained in the minds of students that they should avoid plagiarism, "cherry picking," and "copycatting" at all costs. http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Infographic_Did-I-Plagiarize1.jpg

    4. We need to help students to distinguishbetween intellectual “theft” and common and ethical com-posing practices in the workplace by talking more explic-itly about the gray areas that exist between original com-position, plagiarism, copying, and reusing text inprofessional contexts

      In order for students to understand ethical practices that involve reusing others' work, they need to understand the fair use doctrine. In Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, the authors describe "fair use" as a doctrine that allows individuals to use excerpts of authors' work without permission under certain circumstances. If the author using others' work is doing so for educational purposes, which is the case in students' work, it is typically determined to be fair use. However, one must also consider whether the copyrighted work being used is factual, how much is being used, and how widely distributed the new use of the copyrighted work may be. The closer a text utilizing others' work follows these criteria, the more likely it is to be declared as fair use.

      Arola, C. (2014). Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.

    5. tudent writers move toward membership ofa discourse community by using other writers’ texts anddrawing from multiple voices, demonstrating the type ofintertextuality that rhetorical theorist Bakhtin (1986) recog-nizes as inherent to language

      In Wickman's "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication", the author discusses the importance of students collaborating in order to tackle the "wicked problem" of the Gulf Oil Spill. In that context, the collaboration was helpful because students came from a variety of disciplines. Here, student writers enter a "discourse community" within a single area of study, but the general benefit applies. Although a student might using resources centered on a single topic, they would still come from a variety of viewpoints and research paradigms. For example, one author may have focused on positivist, quantitative research, while another may have focused on anti-positivist, qualitative research, which would produce different results, despite focusing on the same subject.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    6. This definition reveals that many, if not most, acts ofwriting in the workplace may not belong to them as authors.This shift of authorship from the individual to the organizationno doubt supports acts of copying and re-use common inthose settings, and, of course, further complicates no-tions of plagiarism in the workplace.

      As noted in Herrington's "Copyright, Free Speech, and Democracy", there are other implications for technical communicators when authorship is determined to be an employer and not an individual. She notes that in cases of corporate authorship, the work is not granted the same copyright protections as work produced by individuals (in the legal sense, as corporation-authored work is often created by individuals too). In this case, a technical writer working for an employer would not be able to make copyright or authorship claims for his or her work, as the employer has the final say over content and modes of production.

      Herrington, TyAnna. "Copyright, Free Speech, and Democracy: Eldred v. Ashcroft and Its Implications for Technical Communicators." Technical Communication Quarterly 20.1 (2011): 47-72. Web.

    7. Rather, I contend thatmore nuanced understandings of textual ownership and au-thorship will help students, particularly advanced technicalcommunication students, to make more seamless transitionsinto the workplace setting.

      A tool to help students understand sharing and "nuanced understandings of technical ownership" could potentially be the use of the Creative Commons, as described in Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. In using the Creative Commons, students can practice curating texts and documents that derive from a variety of sources, without having to adhere to fair use doctrine and copyright rules. According to their website, the Creative Commons unlocks the "full potential of the internet to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity," which falls in line with general goals of technical communicators. In using the Creative Commons as a learning tool, students can become comfortable with the non-linear, collaborative techniques utilized in technical communication and workplace settings. It would also prepare students for when they are required to adhere to the fair use doctrine, as they would already be well-versed in re-using media and texts. For more on the Creative Commons, visit their website here: https://creativecommons.org/

      Arola, C. (2014). Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.

    8. Single sourcing, then, complicates the writing process,and subsequently the role of the writer as author, in newand challenging ways. As single sourcing relies on a morenuanced notion of audience, content, and form, it alsonecessarily relies on a complex understanding of author-ship, ownership, and textual production and use.

      Whether done in a group or alone, single sourcing positions the writer as not only an author, but as a content manager. Technical communicators must work as content managers to not only present text in a way that best addresses a rhetorical situation, but to also creatively organize and manage content to effectively fit within several documents simultaneously. Technical communicators must consider which information should be emphasized or understated, and what kinds of content are best suited for certain modes and mediums.

    9. suchdiscussions are presented separately from discussions ofplagiarism. Discussing such legal affordances, in thecontext of discussions about plagiarism, could help stu-dents to recognize the ways in which the legality ofcopying is context-specific, dependent on the terms of agiven circumstance of copying and re-use.

      I believe this is central to helping students understand plagiarism. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, students are taught to fear plagiarism above all else. Because fear of plagiarism is so instilled in students, it becomes difficult for them to transition from an academic setting to the workplace, especially when they engage in technical communication. One of the most effective concepts within modern technical communication is the collaborative, "re-using," and re-purposing approach that contrasts academic writing. Discussing plagiarism as a part of a larger conversation about copyright, authorship and fair use would allow students to better understand why it is so important for authors to be given credit for their work as well as how fair use doctrine can aid in the creation of multimodal, effective technical documents and media.

    10. I am attempting to bring to light the gray areas thatexist between what is considered “plagiarism” and therange of composing activities that require the copying andre-use of existing materials in the workplace.

      I like that Reyman noted that certain activities in technical "require" copying and re-use of previous work. In terms of research papers, good resources give a paper credibility and strengthen an argument. For technical communicators, using and re-purposing existing materials creates rhetorically stronger and better informed content. For example, when technical communicators create documents in order to increase product usability, they can reference and build upon the work of previous technical communicators. At the same time, they can use previous work to identify weaknesses that have led to poor usability, thus ensuring that their work is the best possible route towards increased usability.

  4. techwritingf16.robinwharton.net techwritingf16.robinwharton.net
    1. It is a complex and pro-found piece of thinking and an expression of the American national ideal. The in-tellectual property clause embodies hope in our nation as a strong, intelligent forcefor expanding understanding and knowledge, and it reflects the desire to enableegalitarian access to information to make possible the dialogic enterprise neces-sary for democracy.

      I think that this is a really unique interpretation of the "American national ideal." First, Herrington notes that the copyright clause allows the United States to become stronger intellectually, which leads to overall strength of a nation. Second, he notes that is also is an example of the strive for egalitarianism and democracy, which is a unique, but accurate, take on the copyright clause. Intellectual property laws and the copyright clause allow individuals to take credit for their work and prohibit them from taking credit for the work of others. While the laws are broken occasionally and copyright infringements do happen, the laws themselves symbolize the American ideals of equality and a democracy in which everyone has a voice.

    2. This complex interrelationship of elements that drive intellectual property law ap-plication has been recently interpreted by the Supreme Court’s decision inEldredv. Ashcroft(2003).

      In short, Eldred v. Ashcroft ruled that the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act does not violate the copyright clause or the first amendment right to free speech. The 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act extended copyright term to seventy years after a creator's death. For the full text of the ruling, see the opinion of the court, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg:


    3. The First Amendment exists to ensure that the government is inhibited from cre-ating restrictions that limit public debate. It provides two levels of scrutiny (protec-tion) for speech, the most well protected being content-based speech, and least strin-gently protected, content-neutral speech. Content-neutral regulations are those thatdo not target specific speech, parties who speak, or topics of speech but restrictspeech generally, regardless of its content.

      I think it is important to understand the strict scrutiny imposed on legislature that limits "content-based" speech and the mid-level scrutiny imposed on legislature limiting "content-neutral" speech in a more general sense, outside of the Eldred v. Ashcroft case. A copyright extension would limit access to a variety of media, making it a content-neutral limitation. That being said, constitutionality of that type of restriction should be subject to the O'Brien Test. According to that test, a restriction is only constitutional if

      1. Congress has authority to create the restriction
      2. The restriction is to promote a significant government interest
      3. Said interest is not meant to limit free expression
      4. The restriction is not imposed further than necessary to carry out the government interest.

      Although these criteria seem reasonable, I question what the "significant government interest" would be in extending copyrights. I also wonder if the interest would be worth the negative implications of the statute for technical communicators and other media curators. For more information on the O'Brien test, here is a brief summary: http://mspillman.iweb.bsu.edu/news409/FirstAmendTests.pdf

    4. At times, they create original, even expressive, works such asimages, graphic presentations, advertising copy, and other forms of communica-tion that are clearly representative of viewpoints and are creative efforts of thosewho develop them. At other times, technical communicators may do rote-levelwork, compiling reports of others or filling in the blanks of forms and thus pro-viding no original content.

      Technical communicators have a unique position in terms of the post-Eldred interpretations of copyright and fair use. Sometimes, authorship is clear, and technical communicators are guaranteed speech protection and can maintain copyright claims. However, sometimes original, expressive pieces that would typically fall under the "clear authorship" umbrella of work may be composed in a work for hire setting. In that case, the author is deemed to be the corporation or employer, which means the technical communicator is not granted authorship rights, even if the piece was created individually. The same rule applies for routine and administrative texts written by technical communicators in a workplace setting.

    5. In addition, the Court indicatedobliquely that it would support creation of original work over the use of the work ofothers (Eldred v. Ashcroft, 2003, headnote 9a–9b). The Court has emphasized origi-nality as a basis for First Amendment protection, consistent with the concept that in-dividual speech garners greater protection than does commercial speech. In addition,if the speech is not original, it is more difficult to make a claim of representation ofthe speaker (exercising a free-speech right) rather than mere repetition of another’srepresentative words.

      Here, it appears that the Court sees original work and the use of others' work as in opposition to one another. However, as noted in "Rethinking Plagiarism in Technical Communication," technical communicators blur the lines of original content, as effective products and documents build upon the work of other technical communicators in order to present new information. However, because of the "re-use" of other content, the newly-generated content cannot be determined to be completely original, even though it would likely be more effective than completely original technical content. Similarly, a decent study in a peer-reviewed journal typically contains a "literature review" section at the beginning of the article. In doing so, background is provided for the new information or findings presented. In citing previous documents in a literature review, new information is more credible, even though the full body of text is not entirely original.

      Reyman, Jessica. "Rethinking Plagiarism for Technical Communication." Technical Communication 55.1 (2008): 61-67. Web.

    6. This interplay between the First Amendment and fair use makes it possible fortechnical communicators to create new products in response to those of others as ameans to represent themselves and their employers in the workplace.

      In Reyman's "Rethinking Plagiarism for Technical Communication," the author discusses the ways that college students have been programmed to fear plagiarism, despite the non-conventional definitions of plagiarism within technical communication. Such definitions allow technical communicators to build upon the work of other authors, which enables them to work within a particular discourse to present new information or interpretations and expansions of other information. The fair use doctrine noted here is the appropriate avenue for technical communicators to re-use copyrighted work in order to produce better texts and products.

      Reyman, Jessica. "Rethinking Plagiarism for Technical Communication." Technical Communication 55.1 (2008): 61-67. Web.

    7. The Court found that the traditional contours of the intellectual property provisionprovided a proper mechanism for allowing copyright holders to benefit from theirwork while limiting holders’ control by way of fair use.

      In the beginning of the article, the implications of Eldred v. Ashcroft appeared to be relatively severe for technical communicators, as the 20-year extension to copyrights would significantly limit the sources available to them. However the fact that the fair use doctrine still applies after the ruling provides technical communicators with a "loophole" in the sense that they can still re-use and re-purpose texts within the parameters of the fair use doctrine. In Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, the first prong of the fair use doctrine states that the purpose of a text must be used for "educational, nonprofit, criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research." One could argue that the vast majority of technical communication falls under at least one of these uses. However, there is still a chance that one could argue that technical communication is about capitalism and product sales, which brings into question whether the "loophole" will remain as future Supreme Courts interpret copyright law.

      Arola, C. (2014). Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.

    8. The Nationpublished 400 words of verba-tim quotes from the book, eliciting a copyright infringement suit from Harper &Row. The Court decided that, althoughThe Nationused 400 words of a 500-pagebook written by a public figure who was speaking about particularly politicallycharged issues of critical importance to the public, the use was still a copyright in-fringement, noting that the author’s expression maintains protection, even whenhe is a public figure, and pointed to the extensive investment of effort, time, andfunds from both the author and publisher, who were on the eve of publishing thework for public consumption.

      It is peculiar that this was declared unconstitutional for several reasons when the fair use doctrine is applied. First, The Nation, which is an informative political news magazine, published the text in order to inform the public, and likely to critique it. Both of these uses are allowed under the first prong of the fair use doctrine as described in Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Second, the magazine only published a small portion of the 500-page book, which is also allowed under the doctrine. However, it is unclear whether the book had been officially published, and it is likely that The Nation's use of the quotes would reach a large audience, so it fails the fair use doctrine in that regard. Because it only meets two of the four criteria, it is a tricky case, but I still believe it fell close enough within the fair use doctrine to be considered constitutional.

      Arola, C. (2014). Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.

    9. The discourses created by technical communicators have not been considered au-thored discourses; the technical communicator may be a transmitter of messages or atranslator of meanings, but he or she is not⎯or at least not until now⎯considered tobe an author.

      Here, Slack, Miller, & Doak describe the role of technical communicators as the transmitters of messages, not authors. However, as this was stated in 1993, I believe that the role of technical communicators has evolved over time. In "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication," Wickman discusses the role of technical communication in solving "wicked problems." In Sullivan's "Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing," she argues that technical communicators have a distinct role in promoting increased product usability. In both articles, a major theme is that the technical communicator is an individual curator with a unique set of ideals and goals, which proves that technical communicators are seen as authors more than ever before. To get a better understanding of the role of technical communicators as authors, refer to this infographic: http://stuffwriterslike.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/future-of-technical-writing.png

      Sullivan, Patricia (1989). Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 32(4).

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    10. The purpose of freedom of speech...istopromote a democratic culture. . . [which]is more than representative of institutions of democracy

      As acampbell30 also noted regarding this quote, we often think of cultural production and distribution at the aggregate level, but individual rights such as free speech allow individuals to participate in democracy. In terms of technical communicators, they have the opportunity to produce social change, whether intentionally or not. While activism and protest come to mind when one thinks of the term "social change," social change often flies under the radar. Social change that could be produced by technical communicators could be the ways that we gather information digitally or a slow cultural shift in the American writing process.

  5. Sep 2016
    1. Two steps can be used to situate those studies vis-a-vis the landscape of usability research, an analysis of the context sur- rounding a particular study and an analysis of the structure of the study itself. The reason for dividing this “situating” into a two-step process arises out of the multidisciplinary na- ture of the usability research project. When we are working inside a discipline, everyone shares values and goals, a com- mon educational platform, and a common world view. We cannot assume that commonality in multidisciplinary work. Thus, the step of articulating the context of a study helps us to better understand why a study is as it is.

      This paragraph is noteworthy for two reasons:

      1. I agree with the author's suggestion that the context surrounding a particular study and the structure of the study need to be analyzed separately because the usability research does not fall under one discipline. For example, a study involving 100 female freshman CIS Majors at Georgia State University would produce very different results from a study of 100 random people off of the street. Because the produced data would clearly vary, a context analysis is necessary.
      2. This paragraph reminds me of a concept in sociological research: disaggregated versus aggregated data. Aggregated data is a collection of data that has been summarized and "watered down" or generalized, while disaggregated data has been broken apart into subgroups. It can help researchers fully understand trends and findings, while providing data that more accurately represents a population. If the context and structure were not analyzed seperately, results would likely resemble aggregated data that does not accurately represent the sample.
    2. A problem with classical fieldwork is that it is founded on interviews and notes taken by the researcher (after the obser- vation). It assumes that the people are competent in their grasp of their own culture, and that the researcher participates until shehe understands the culture enough to go back and tell us about it. This assumption has trouble when the study deals with the introduction of new elements into a culture. Then the “natives” are not expert informants. Further, the inter- actions with the machine and the documentation are so rapid and complex that it is difficult for the researcher to capture the problems in notes after the fact. Thus, classical methodology is in the process of being adapted to the needs of studying usability. Successful adaptation is needed if field studies are to make a robust contribution to usability

      I am assuming "classical fieldwork" refers to the somewhat standard method of surveying within sociology and anthropology. It is true that surveys/interpersonal interviews have been an effective method of data collection for both of the disciplines, in part, because of the nature of the data collected. In several of my sociology courses, I have conducted extensive research on social problems and patterns of behavior. Although i researched a variety of issues, they all had one thing in common- data was related to interpersonal interactions within social systems and institutions. However, usability research focuses on human-computer relations, rather than interpersonal ones. Although this method of data collection has worked in sociology, it would likely not work at all in this case. I agree that new methods should be utilized, but i am unsure of how to best represent usability data without unintentionally aggregating it.

    3. Users may work nat- urally, or they may be asked to talk aloud as they use the sys- tem (user protocol) or read the text (reader protocol). These methods of observation help answer questions related to what happens when a user tries to use a product. They can capture the time it takes, the actions taken, and the success the user had. If the user talks aloud, they can also tap the strategies and reasons for action. But they do not necessarily answer questions about the user’s response to the product.

      I understand that this formal method of observation may "catch" data that informal observation and note taking may miss, but i question the accuracy of the data found. For example, If i was instructed to use a new website while just being observed, I would face the challenge of navigating the website purely based on common sense. If i was told to read the text or talk aloud while navigating the website, I would feel somewhat "guided." It would also slow my pace, giving me more time to comprehend text and find pages within the site. Although i'd be able to better navigate the site, it would not accurately reflect the usability of the site in a real-world setting.

    4. The answer can be yes. This answer is tied, in part, to the effort to test products early in the cycle. Many researchers, in technical communication and elsewhere, are arguing for ear- lier and more exploratory testing. We know from published research that product research is developing methods rapidly. But so few of the product tests are published. Because so few are published, as a group we have fewer methods for en- hancing product development than we as individuals actually employ.

      I agree with the hypothesis that usability research can develop methods for enhancing product development. As i noted above, testing usability towards the beginning of the product development process would allow for the development of products to be increasingly based on the results of the usability testing, while testing after development likely leads to very minor improvements on products. Here, Sullivan noted that although research is developing quickly, only a handful of tests have been published. However, i see this as an advantage, rather than a burden, for usability testers. With few precedent findings, usability testers could employ experimental, rather than "tried and true," methods of testing. By thinking creatively and across disciplines, new methods of usability testing could be formed and more effective products could be created.

    5. 256 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION, VOL. 32, NO. 4, DECEMBER 1989 Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing


      In Patricia Sullivan’s article, “Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing,” she began by discussing the need for a broader interpretation of usability because of its complex nature. Next, she asks “what is it that we are doing in relation to others who study usability, and what might we need to be doing?” First, she notes that technical writers should contribute to research regarding the broader concept of usability. Because a broader interpretation of usability also means a larger body of information to tackle, studies should be situated within the umbrella of usability research, but both the context of a study and the study in and of itself should be analyzed as well. Analyzing the context of a study allows researchers to understand the choices made within the study, such as the chosen population. Analyzing the structure of the study allows researchers to understand factors such a study’s focus and constrains. However, depending on the identity of the group that conducts the study, such as sociologists or psychologists, different questions may be raised. For example, in the interdisciplinary group of human-computer interaction, all researchers are concerned with interface design, but may approach it differently by employing various methods and asking differing questions. Sociologists focus their studies on usability and how people interact with computers via observational techniques, while marketers focus their usability research on specific products and services. Technical communicators focus their research on the educational documents regarding a system and “how users employ those aids to help them learn a system.” The research of technical communicators is often interdisciplinary, so research methods are consulted as guides, rather than as set rules of practice. Researchers can then employ any combination of methods that they see fit in their research. Some research methods for usability studies include surveying, observation, keystroke records, and computer text analysis. The various methods can be organized into three models of research. First, the product development model pertains to the product development process of engineering, so it utilizes lab-based research methods. The cognitive model is based on the work of human-computer interaction psychologists, whose focus is on finished, developed products. The cultural model, often used by sociologists, utilizes field work in order to study “normal use” usability. Each model is also related to certain types of questions. For example, the cultural model is often connected to questions regarding the environment, or context, of a study. In closing, Sullivan addresses three questions pertaining to usability research. First, she argues that usability research can “develop methods for enhancing product development,” particularly if usability is tested earlier in the product development process. Second, she claims that she is unsure of whether or not usability research can be used as a “model” for studying “naturally occurring” usability until more field research is conducted on the subject. In closing, Sullivan enthusiastically argues that usability could become more “central” to the writing process in general due to advances in usability research. When technical communicators are aware of users and when usability research is implemented at the front-end of the writing cycle, technical communicators are able to produce significantly more effective and usable documents.

    6. As technical communicators, we are always going to be more interested in issues related to the development of usable ed- ucational materials and interfaces. The challenge for us is to figure out how to incorporate the growing knowledge of users into the development of manuals and interfaces.

      Earlier in my annotations, i mentioned the ways in which marketers understand audiences by constructing personas. The concept of personas is somewhat relative to this passage as well. However, the challenge of "incorporating the growing knowledge of users," seems far more complex than persona construction. Instead of having to create imaginary figures to make predictions about the traits of an audience, technical communicators must do almost the inverse and navigate and narrow down a wealth of information pertaining to users in order to determine what is applicable for developing a manual or interface. Here, the process of communicating with one another to decide on how findings connect to documents is similar to the rhetorical concept of dialectic, which i mentioned in greater detail in Wickman's "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication". Collaboration between technical communicators, like traditional dialectic, helps rhetors organize and process information in order to form effective arguments, or in this case, manuals and interfaces.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    7. a cumulative study that informs future writing, then every usability test can con- tribute to that writer’s knowledge of users. It becomes a way of building a concrete theory of audience. Such a concrete theory of audience can lead writers to change the ways in which they think about manuals in the early stages of writing. They may read more about user behavior before starting to work on a project to a new group of users. They may, for example, ask for more testing of competitors’ pack- ages before shaping their own documentation. They may run exploratory user tests on modules that take experimental ap- proaches, or on the basic language that is central to the book, or on the outline of the text

      Beginning on the last sentence of page 7, this closing addresses the importance for technical writers engaged in usability testing to learn about users.Although technical writing is often viewed as more expository than rhetorical,an excellent document regarding usability or usability testing effectively addresses the rhetorical situation, or the "set of circumstances in which an author creates a text," according to Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. An important factor within the rhetorical situation is the audience, or in this case, users. Technical writers must consider primary audiences, such as users reading a manual for a software or product, as well as secondary audiences, such as students studying technical writing who may come across the manual. Although consideration of audience is vital to reaching primary audiences, it can also produce more effective technical writers in the future by successfully addressing rhetorical situations.

      Arola, C. (2014). Analyzing Multimodal Projects. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, 20-40.

    8. These methods are used alone or put in combination with others to study the question of interest. In practice, most lab- oratory and field studies blend together direct questioning and observation methods into one study.

      In Chad Wickman's article, "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication," he author noted that his students worked on tackling the "wicked problem" within groups, and that many of the groups contains students of varying disciplines. The interdisciplinary groups proved to be beneficial because each student had different experiences, areas of expertise, and proposed solutions for consequences of the oil spill, so they were able to effectively collaborate. Similarly, Sullivan notes here that multiple methods can be used in usability research. When individuals from varying backgrounds, such as cognitive psychologists and engineers, collaborate in usability research, they most likely have different ideas about which methods to use. Because of this, interdisciplinary groups of usability researchers are able to select the best combination of methods to reach the concerns of all of the researchers, which in turn, would improve usability overall.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    9. its strictest cognitive psychologists aim to build theories of users or of learning and its strictest engineers aim to build systems that solve problems they notice.

      This practice in human-computer interaction reminds me of a concept that is utilized in marketing known as "creating personas," which is further discussed in the link below. When marketers want to test whether a product or service reaches audiences, they create templates or "composite sketches," of imaginary individuals within the target audiences. Personas constructed by marketers include basic information such as age, gender, and marital status, as well as personal information such as their interests and hobbies. In terms of human-computer interaction, it sounds like cognitive psychologists also make personas or "theories of users," in order to increase usability. Although Sullivan noted that problems may arise due to the differing goals of cognitive psychologists and engineers, engineers could use information gathered from the psychologists' theories to create more effective solution-based systems.

      Lee, K. (2015). The Complete, Actionable Guide to Marketing Personas. Buffer Social. https://blog.bufferapp.com/marketing-personas-beginners-guide

    10. callid for usability to follow the lead of engineering and insert usability into the product development cycle at an earlier phase.

      Including usability testing earlier in the product development cycle would position usability testing as a fundamental stage of product development, instead of as a "finalizing" step before a product is introduced into the market. Traditionally, the product development cycle of six chronological steps was as follows, according to James Duval of Business2Community.com:

      1. Idea Generation
      2. Research
      3. Product Development/Assembly
      4. Usability Testing
      5. Analysis of Findings
      6. Introduction into the marketplace

      Because usability testing occurs after the development of the product, it is clear that the testing would only motivate develops to make minimal changes to a product. Recently, many engineers have utilized a new product development cycle that tests the usability of the potential product before it is actually developed, according to ProductLifeCycleStages.com. After it is developed, the marketability of the product is also tested. When usability testing is at the forefront of product development, the user-centered approach maximizes the potential for growth and allows developers to more effectively plan for the implementation of a product.

      Duval, J. (2013). Eight Simple Steps for New Product Development. Business 2 Community. www.business2community.com/product-management/eight-simple-steps-for-new-product-development-0560298#fGOcuH6At5eDoUyc.97

      New Product Development.(2016). Product Life Cycle Stages. Living Better Media. http://productlifecyclestages.com/new-product-development-stages/

  6. techwritingf16.robinwharton.net techwritingf16.robinwharton.net
    1. Rather, they needto be addressed continuously, through careful scrutiny and ongoing action thatextends beyond the proximity of our immediate communities—and beyond thescope of course requirements and classroom assignments. What follows is anattempt to show how the wicked problems framework worked for my coursesand how it might be modified to accommodate other types of inquiry in theteaching of technical and professional communication.

      I find this statement central to tackling wicked problems such as homelessness and environmental problems within a classroom. Oftentimes, when students are asked to propose a solution to a problem in a persuasive essay format, students can research a narrow issue to find a reasonable solution that could potentially fix it. When students must address a wicked problem, it is a different story. Not only must students address the issue from the perspective of several disciplines, but they must also consider the longevity of solutions to problems and news ways to address wicked problems as society and circumstances evolve. Wicked problems are not problems that can be solved with a single solution, but rather with multiple solutions that constantly change and grow in scope over time.

    2. A relatedissue involved the individual proposals that each group made based on theirresearch. It might make sense, for instance, to limit fishing in the Gulf if marinelife were contaminated by the oil or chemical dispersants; yet it also makes senseto keep workers in the fishing industry from being laid off. The research processthus became an object of deliberation and tapped into issues of problem definitionand policy planning that we were forced to confront throughout the term

      This statement exemplifies the difficulty of policy making regarding the oil spill as well as general policy making in the United States. In regards to Wickman's example, limiting fishing in the gulf would seem to be a viable option to nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. However, sociologists, activists, and workers would be concerned about fishermen losing jobs. Many people are under the impression that policymakers must only consider public opinion in regards to the political binary of liberal/conservative, but countless groups are affected by policy changes in various ways. For instance, Wickman's example of limiting fishing in the gulf would affect several other groups indirectly. If fishing was limited in the gulf, local grocers and restaurants would experience profit decrease, which would then negatively affect the local economy.

    3. “wicked problemsare not objectively given but their formulation already depends on the viewpointof those presenting them” [17, p. 6]. When we choose to address incidents likethe Gulf spill, we accordingly take part in a rhetorical act in which we definespecific issues according to perspectives that have been shaped by social, cultural,disciplinary, and political factors (to name a few)

      Coyne's statement here appears to be both a cornerstone of wicked problems as well as a weakness. First, as noted earlier in the article, wicked problems differ from tame problems in their complexity. As Coyne noted, the issues within a wicked problem are constructed, depending on "social, cultural, disciplinary, and political factors." Therefore, there is not one single problem or solution to the gulf spill because people will view the issues and circumstances within the problem differently. For example, as Wickman noted, nutritionists may be concerned with the effect of the spill on the safety of fish for human consumption, while engineers may be concerned with the technical errors that caused the spill in the first place. Second, the non-objective nature and social construction of wicked problems could make it difficult to declare certain problems wicked, even if they fit the criteria. For example, to many people, global warming is a complex wicked problem, but to some people, it is not a problem at all and is actually a myth. Although only a small subset of people in the United States believe that global warming is a myth, the fact that "wicked problem deniers" may exist should be considered in addressing any wicked problem.

    4. Indeed, students researched the Gulf spill and its effects in different ways: frominterviews with business owners along the coast to surveys that attempted todetermine perceived risks and consumption habits of everyday citizens in thecoastal states more generally. Through these activities, they learned to defineproblems in concrete ways and pose questions similar to those raised by expertsin their fields; they also learned to situate their inquiries in relation to otherproblems that continued to arise throughout the duration of our course—andthat would continue to arise well after the course came to an end.

      Wickman's decision to use the Gulf spill as the wicked problem for his class projects was a very smart one. Earlier in the article, i noted that the Gulf spill is a very difficult wicked problem to tackle because it is a current event, rather than a historical event, like the space shuttle Challenger. Because the issue is so current, academic resources pertaining to the spill would be limited, so students would have to research creatively. Luckily, Wickman and his students live in the gulf area, so they had the privilege to gain insight from primary sources and in-field research by interviewing individual business owners affected by the Gulf spill. Because the students utilized their location to produce better data, it is likely that their projects were much stronger than they would be if Wickman's class was in the Midwest. Also, their firsthand experiences with the Gulf spill and hands-on research would add to the credibility, or ethos, of their projects.

    5. Similar to the Challenger tragedy, the explosion onboard Deepwater Horizonled to disastrous consequences.

      Because of the similarities to the Gulf spill, Wickman could have used the Challenger tragedy of 1986 as the wicked problem for his class project. However, because of the timing of the Gulf spill, it proved to be a much more difficult task than hypothetically addressing the issues of the Challenger tragedy. Because the Gulf spill is such a recent occurrence, less concrete, accurate information is available about the Gulf spill. In part, this is due to the urgency of publications regarding the spill, meaning that proper fact-checking was no deemed as vital as getting the story out as fast as possible. Addressing the Gulf spill as a wicked problem is also more challenging than addressing the Challenger explosion because effects of the spill continue today. The long-term impact of the Gulf spill is still a mystery, so in tackling the wicked problem, students must also predict all of the possible effects of the spill 5, 10, and even 15 years down the road.



      Chad Wickman’s article, “Wicked Problems in Technical Communication,” begins by discussing problem-based inquiry as a method for teaching technical communication. In teaching problem-based inquiry, students can become equipped to address real –world problems in both the classroom and professional settings. Many non-linear, complex problems such as the Gulf spill, can be defined as “wicked,” because they are “ill-defined,” and lack concrete solutions. Based off of Ritel and Webber’s “Dilemmas for a General Theory of Planning,” Wickman further explains the definition of a wicked problem by comparing their “10 Characteristics of Wicked Problems,” to the Gulf spill via a chart on the following two pages. Next, Wickman discusses Richard Buchannan’s concept of “placements,” which act as commonplaces for students or researchers to utilize in addressing wicked problems at the invention stage. In the following section, Wickman explores how he utilized the wicked problems framework for addressing the Gulf spill in his technical communication class. He established several objectives for the Gulf spill project, such as addressing a wicked problem with multiple potential solutions, “understanding problem-definition as a rhetorical and methodological activity, and applying general rules of technical communication and rhetoric “toward documents that are designed to address particular audiences and situations.” In addressing a wicked problem that was also local in nature, Wickman’s students were able to engage in broadening their overall social consciousness, while learning technical writing skills that would prove beneficial in academic and professional settings. During the Gulf spill project, students worked in interdisciplinary groups and utilized a variety of data-collecting methods to promote solutions that address the multiple varying issues that occurred as a result of the Gulf spill. In closing, Wickman noted one benefit of addressing wicked problems. By engaging with a wicked problem like the Gulf spill, students can learn effective ways to address complicated, unforeseen problems in the future as well as the importance of research and writing when it comes to solving complex, large-scale problems.

    7. I will show how this framework can be used,specifically, to help students develop strategies for rhetorical invention; defineproblems and develop sustainable research projects; refine their disciplinaryexpertise and abilities to take part in inter-disciplinary collaborations; respondto multiple audiences through their writing; and write for social action.

      In Patricia Sullivan's article, "Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing," she noted that usability researchers, and especially technical communicators who study usability, must strategically develop plans of action utilizing a variety of methods, to effectively find a solution a problem of usability. Similarly, Wickman's students also had to develop a rhetorical strategy in order to tackle the wicked problem of the Gulf spill. However, addressing a usability problem has one major advantage over addressing a wicked problem: testing. For example, if a website has proven to be hard for users to navigate, technical communicators and other usability testers can conduct experiments that test proposed solutions by analyzing individuals' responses to changes in the website. In regards to a wicked problems, students cannot test whether or not limiting fishing in the gulf would be beneficial to the local population. Instead, they can only predict the results of potential solutions.

      Sullivan, Patricia (1989). Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 32(4).

    8. Buchanan has argued that both rhetoric and designare productive arts that, together, help to unite words with things and bring theoryinto line with practice. He also suggests that despite this potential, “traditionalrhetoricians have been slow to recognize their resources for exploring the newdirections of technology” and, further, have not fully “considered the way inwhich design—as the intellectual and practical art that provides discipline in thecreation of the human-made world—employs rhetorical doctrines and devices”[19, pp. 187-188]. Scholars of rhetoric and technical communicationhaveinfact drawn on principles of design in their research and teaching [20-22]. Evenso, these developments often reflect disciplinary imperatives (e.g., adapting tothe needs of multimedia environments) rather than interdisciplinary problemsolving applied to issues in the public sphere.

      Although design is not the first thing that comes to mind in regards to addressing a wicked problem, it is a key tool in addressing rhetorical situations, especially in multimodal and non-linear projects. According to Writer/Designer: A Guide to Multimodal Projects, a rhetorical situation is the "set of circumstances in which an author creates a text." The five design concepts, emphasis, contrast, organization, alignment, and proximity do not look applicable to the oil spill project in Wickman's class at first glance. However, they can all be utilized to produce rhetorically strong projects addressing the wicked problem. For example, students should use the design concept of contrast when drafting multiple documents for the project. By noting within texts how one document contrasts another, both documents will appear rhetorically stronger and a connection between multiple documents will be made.

      Arola, C. (2014). Analyzing Multimodal Projects. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, 20-40.

    9. According to Buchanan, placements are systematic yet flexible tools for invention.Similar to rhetoricaltopoi, they serve as loci, or commonplaces, where studentscan initiate their inquiry, gather data, create arguments, and, importantly, developnovel ways of thinking about novel problems. Under this description, placementsconstrain meaning but are not determinate; thus, they do not re-inscribe existingmethods or ways of thinking, but, rather, facilitate invention and discovery in theface of wicked problems

      By using Buchanan's method of placement, students can incorporate one of the five canons of rhetoric in their projects. The first canon, invention, is rooted in "invenire" which means "to find." At this "finding" stage, students begin to develop and explore their argument utilizing topoi, or topics, such as cause and effect. Similarly, Buchanan's placements, act as loci, or "commonplaces" regarding "signs, things, actions, and thoughts." These commonplaces act as starting points for students to generate ideas within the invention stage. Because wicked problems are so complex, it is difficult to know where to begin from a rhetorical standpoint, but Buchanan's placements are like prompts that get students to brainstorm about different aspects of the oil spill. One excellent aspect of the placements is the fact that students can begin by examining and researching any one of the four placements. This breaks down the concept issue into a more manageable and organized process.

      Burton, G. O. The Five Canons. Silva Rhetoricae, Brigham Young University. http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Canons/Invention.htm

    10. The Gulf spill elicited an extensive response from citizens, advocacy groups,and environmental organizations around the world. Living and working in acoastal state, I also found that members of my university community respondedto it in their own, more localized ways. Some were engineers who developedstrategies to cap the ruptured well and keep oil from seeping into the coastalestuaries; some were sociologists who interviewed citizens along the coast abouttheir perceptions of the incident; and others were communication experts whoexamined how mass media discourse shaped public understanding of BritishPetroleum’s activities in the Gulf. The spill warranted these varied approaches: itwas not a problem that could be fixed, let alone solved, in any simple sense of theterm. By August 2010, then, at the start of our Fall term, students on campus wereabsorbing information about the incident through multiple avenues (e.g., throughfriends and relatives along the coast, through their classes) and were thus learningabout it as a multi-dimensional problem that could be addressed through theirdisciplines and, eventually, through the rhetorical expertise they would developthrough their experience in the technical writing classroom.

      Because the author lives in the gulf area, he was able to see both localized and global responses to the gulf spill. On a university campus, he was also able to witness the various reactions to the spill among several disciplines. His students were also able to absorb information about the oil spill through multiple avenues. Because the spill was such a "wicked problem," it could not be solved in one particular discipline or with one simple solution, so it is important that multiple disciplines were engaged in discussing potential solutions. The concept of multiple disciplines engaging with a wicked problem reminds me of the concept of "dialectic," or a conversation between several people in an effort to find a truth or "essence," of an idea (such as in Plato's Gorgias). In this situation, solutions could likely be found if as many people as possible, from a variety of disciplines, were to engage in a dialogue to narrow down potential solutions.

  7. Aug 2016
    1. New London Group Modes:

      1. linguistic (writing, speech, sign language)
      2. gestural (sign language)
      3. visual (writing, sign language,
      4. spatial (architecture)
      5. aural (speech, music, flashing lights)
      6. tactile (not in new london group, braille)
    1. The second-fourth paragraphs on page six refer back to the opening statement from Dr. L. Because the students' written record keeping system seemed administrative in nature, the professors did not consider it literacy.Instead, the professors simply claimed that the students lacked literary skills. in an earlier paragraph, a professor noted that students often connected words via arrows instead of sentences. I believe that this became habit because of students' experience with record keeping. Among students at the veterinary college, use of key words and connecting symbols (arrows) became perfectly acceptable forms of communication.

    1. Writer is a limited term that assumes a single channel. Communicator is a much broader term that includes visual and other channels.

      I agree with this statement, especially because visual communication mediums, such as infographics, are forms of technical communication, but may not fall under the narrow field of "writing."

    2. all communication – whether it is primarily ‘technical’ or whether it better fits another genre – is multidisciplinary and constantly evolving. Then we should simply get on with our work” (Ecker 1995).

      I understand her perspective because it seems that technical communication is an ever-growing field, so it is difficult to narrow it down into one definition.

    3. In his book Technical Communication, Mike Markel notes that technical communication is a form of composition and the foundation of all composition is rhetoric, “Technical communication is not a strange and exotic form of encryption; it is simply another kind of composition. It follows, then, that technical communication and composition share the same foundation: rhetoric” (Markel 2007).

      I am curious as to how rhetoric can be the foundation of technical communication because TC seems to be mostly expository.

    1. What all technical communicators have in common is a user-centered approach to providing the right information, in the right way, at the right time to make someone’s life easier and more productive.

      I like how this statement explains how all technical writers, despite working in a variety of fields, have the same purpose. It also simply demonstrates the importance of technical writing.