Archive for the ‘Readings’ Category

Tomorrow at a god awful hour of the morning, I board a plane that, through a series of other destinations, will eventually get me to San Francisco. At least, that’s the plan-there’s a chance the snow will decide otherwise. But most likely, I’m off to the C’s.

This is not my first conference, but it is one of the scariest. It’s without a doubt the biggest conference I’ve ever been to. So I’ve done more preparation for this than I have for any other conference. I may even have a power point presentation (though I am limiting myself to 7 slides, including a title screen).

In the meantime, though, I wanted to get back to my ‘class planning’ project.

Last time around, I came up with course goals. The next step is reading lists. (more…)

Though not yet finished my reading for this week, I wanted to blog about two of the articles I am reading. The first is by Jennifer Daryl Slack, David James Miller, and Jeffrey Doak. It’s called “Technical Communicator as Author: Meaning, Power, Authority.” The second is “Extreme Usability and Technical Communication” by Bradley Dilger. Both are within Critical Power Tools edited by J. Black Scott, Bernadette Longo, and Katherine V. Wills.

So, first Slack Miller and Doak. (more…)

Critical Power Tools, part one

Posted: February 10, 2009 in Readings, Review, School
Tags: , ,

Today’s post is about the foreword, introduction, and three chapters of Critical Power Tools by J. Blake Scott, Bernadette Longo, and Katherine V. Wills. The reason this is part one is that I will be coming back to the rest of the book in a few weeks.

Part of my interest in this work is that I’m seeking an understanding of “Scientific and Technical Communication.” I’m a Rhetoric person, which grew out of my Philosophy background. I’m okay with sticking with Rhetoric, but I want to understand STC as well. Which is why I was very pleased to read that “technical communication is like Foucauldian power/knowledge system in that it relies on the invisibility of the relationships by which it includes and excludes, by which it orders, measures, and discipline” (x). (more…)

On Great Writing

Posted: February 6, 2009 in Pedagogy, Readings, Review, School, writing

I have more to say about my own stuff, but first I wanted to talk about a nice little book that I just read. It’s called On Great Writing (On the Sublime) and is by this guy named Longinus. No, not the Roman soldier who supposedly stabbed Jesus on the cross. I mean Longinus, the writing teacher. I’m pretty sure they’re different people.

I’m being a bit flippant here. On Great Writing is an incredible book, and fantastically important. So much so that I’m amazed it has taken me this long to be exposed to it.  (Though I suppose if I’d ever had a copy of Rhetorical Tradition I would’ve seen it). This book, short as it is (58 pages of text, the Grube translation) very quickly establishes itself and shows why it has been so influential for so many thinkers. (more…)

So I’ve started researching on my own. This is the first time I’ve really had this kind of freedom. I imagine it won’t last forever, but for now all I have is a general topic: question and answer. Specifically as it relates to the internet. But I started looking, and I’ve found a few articles.  So far I’ve read two: “Questions and Question Asking in Verbal Discourse: a Cross-Disciplinary Review” by Greg P. Kearsley, and “Beyond student perceptions: issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course” by Anthony G. Picciano.

I’ve also started reading Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.


The reading for this week was chapters from Carol Berkenkotter’s upcoming Patient Tales and a chapter on researching through discourse and textual analysis. I’ll start there.

Discourse and Textual Analysis are where I feel most comfortable. They don’t involve human subjects, they proceed at the pace of the researcher, and they involve close attention to detail. Add to that some rather extensive background in this sort of thing (it is pretty much exclusively how my Philosophy training was focused), and you have a pretty understandable love of this kind of research. This is the stuff that feels like research. The books spread out across the huge desk, the notes, the piles and piles of papers. Sifting through mountains of text, looking for that one perfect quotation. There’s an honesty to it, I think. A visceral joy that may not come with other kinds of research.

I’m not saying other research is inferior, nor do I want to imply that it isn’t “real”; there’s a lot that other types of research can do that discourse analysis can’t. DA is, in many, many ways, very limited. It’s a first step, usually. A jumping off point for research to begin from. Other things, like Case Studies, offer a whole lot more. What I’m saying is that different research methods work better than others for specific projects. You have to pick what method to use for each project. That feels about as obvious as saying that the sky is blue, but I know for students (myself included) this is a lesson that has to be learned. Well, not exactly learned as pointed out.

Now let me talk about Berkenkotter…


Technical Cyberspace

Posted: November 3, 2008 in Methods, Readings, Review, School
Tags: ,

This week was a mercifully light one for reading. The only article to read was Laura Gurak and Christine Silker’s “Technical Communication Research in Cyberspace.” Which is good, because I also spent time working on my research proposal. But that’s for another post. For right now, let me talk about cyberspace. (more…)