Archive for June, 2010

Today I’m looking at Arthur Quinn’s great book Figures of Speech: 60 ways to turn a phrase. It’s a very short book about style, about the different ways to play with words and when to do them. More importantly, it’s a pretty comprehensive glossary of terms, so that I know that when I spell something wrong intentionally, what I’m doing is called ennallage (5), and when I repeat the same word in different grammatical schemes, it’s called isocolon (77) and if I repeat a word or phrase immediately, that’s epizeuxis (80).

Quinn writes his book with his tongue firmly pressed against his cheek, moving very cleverly through all 60 of these figures of speech by talking about them, around them, and providing copious examples of them, drawing from the Bible, Shakespeare, Euripides, Twain, Marlowe; he shows us these figures at work in language throughout our cultural history. (more…)

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Stephanie Schnieder wrote Usable Pedagogies: Usability, Rhetoric, and Sociocultural Pedagogy in the Technical Writing Classroom, which seems in theme with the last couple entries. So I’ll start there.

The article  is essentially about how usability can support a sociocultural pedagogy. It presents ways in which usability can help with technical writing. Specifically, it suggests that “usability theory not only encourages us to look at the social and polical aspects of technical documentation and information design but also provides a pedagical frame ‘specific to the field'” (448). The more usable something is, the easier it is to teach. Students are users, after all. (more…)

Originally, the last entry was going to include all four sources (those two and these two). But it ended up taking so long to talk about those two that these got bumped. I have no idea why I’m telling you this.

The first article I’m looking at here is Jeff Rice’s Cyborgography: A pedagogy of the Home Page. The article is mostly about the establishment of identity online, specifically through the use of a home page. Rice quotes Jakob Nielsen (2002) when he says “if the homepage doesn’t communicate what users can do and why they should care about the website, you might as well not have a website at all” (62). And Nielsen here makes a good point: if someone comes to a page and has no idea what they can do, they’ll leave. Without knowledge of what a site is for, it may as well ot be there.

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This entry is going to cover two articles. There’s Anonymity versus Commitment: the dangers of education on the Internet by Hubert L. Dreyfus (2002), and Respond Now! E-mail, Acceleration, and a Pedagogy of Patience by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock (2004). So there is at least a common theme: online pedagogy. Which I’m interested in. I included the years because in a field like this, things change really fast, and so I need to remind myself to read these guys on their own terms, not the way the world is  six or eight years later. (more…)

About a year and a half ago, I started working on this whole idea of question asking online. It has led me to what I believe is my larger project, namely online communication. But it started here, and it started with me reading up on the whole idea of Q&A online. Which started with two articles: High Performance Question/Answering and Evaluation in Nautral Language Generation: The Question Generation Task. I’m not sure I’d say these are foundational texts for the field, but they made up my foundation, in that they were the first ones I read. (more…)

Looking at two articles by Whitney Quesenbery: The Five Dimensions of Usability, which is chapter 4 from Content & complexity: information design in technical communication By Michael J. Albers, Beth Mazur. and What does Usability Mean: Looking Beyond ‘Ease of Use.

The Five Dimensions of Usability are that something must be Effective, Efficient, Engaging, Error Tolerant, and Easy to Learn (84-88). So basically, if something fits all of these (inter-related) dimensions, something is very usable. (more…)

The following several entries are going to be mini reviews of things I’ve read, so that I have references for myself during my exams. Today, I’m looking at two works by Ed Schiappa. I’m not planning to talk about Ed (who is a nice guy), just about his work. Specifically, The “Stronger and Weaker” Logoi Fragment and Toward an Understanding of Sophistic Theories of Rhetoric.

We’ll start with Logoi. For reference, these quotations all come from the book The Major Fragments of Protagorus by Ed Schiappa; the source I’m looking at is actually chapter 6 from that book.

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