Archive for October, 2008

Last week, I read “Feminist Criticism and Technical Communication” and wondered to myself why it had been assigned. It was so out of place compared to the other reading for the week. Well, it was. It was actually reading for this week. Which makes much more sense. If you’re curious about my thoughts on that article, look back one week.

For this week, I want to talk about”Making Academic Work Advocacy Work” and “A Different Place to Birth,” both by Mary Lay Schuster (the first with Amy Propen). I’ll start with Making Academic Work Advocacy Work.

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In this, the second post for reading this week, I will pick up exactly where I left off, with the forthcoming article by Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch titled A Work in Process: A study of the Development of Single-Source Documentation and Document Review Processes of Cardiac Devices. This article is a report on an ethnographic study (technically a case study, actually) of a writing team at a biomedical company as they transitioned over to what is called single sourcing. Basically, the way I understand it, single sourcing is where writers create a series of ‘topics’ that are then selectively chosen based on relevance for individual manuals for products, so that manuals can make more sense and be more usable, so that 230 topics could contribute to 100 manuals, rather than a single unwieldy 500 page manual (8).

Writing these topics is a collaborative exercise where feedback is given from outside readers (4), so “technical writers must negotiate social tensions and conflict as they work with others to create single source documents” (3). This means that writers had to work with people who were non-writers but experts in the field and try to develop a single document that everyone approved of. I can imagine the tension. (more…)

So there’s a lot of reading this week. Unfortunately for me, I was sick for large chunks of last week and most of the weekend, so it took me longer than usual to get through it all. But I have, and so I present now a few select comments on the things I read. I think this may end up with multiple entries

First we have Mary M. Lay’s Feminist Criticism and Technical Communication Research. Among other things, this was a description of how feminist research works, how it “might suggest new and different ways to gather and interpret data in recognizing the voices, needs, and interests of diverse women” (166). But also how feminists don’t generally believe that research is objective (167) and at the same time believe that “Gender is the primary variable” (176).

This bothers me. And while it’s very difficult to talk about feminism as a whole without being labeled “Part of the problem,” I will endeavor to forge ahead anyway. Here is my problem, generally, with feminism: I feel it goes too far. (more…)

This week I read, among other things, “Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research” by Charney, “Working Memory in an Editing Task” by Hayes and Chenowith, and caught up on my reading about Empirical research. In reading all this, the major conclusion I’ve come to is that while Empirical research is interesting, and while the conclusions this research can draw are important, reading about them is, to put it mildly, difficult.

I’m not going to review these articles here. This week, I am more reflecting on these works in and of themselves and as representations/lessons for the semester thus far. (more…)

As I read through Copyrights and Copywrongs, I found myself having a debate about the argument being presented. On the one hand, I had my academic side talking about the value of a citation culture, about the importance of fair use and the interesting developments of Open Source etc. On the other, I had my creative side talking about getting credit for my work, about controlling how someone else uses the ideas that I present. That part of me feels that copyright needs to be strong, and weakening it weakens the creative endeavor.

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Quite a bit of reading this week. Much of it was outside of what was assigned for class. But I’ll get back to that. First, let me talk about Mary Sue MacNealy’s Strategies for Empirical Research in Writing and the three articles I read. (more…)