“Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions…” Nietzsche

What is your attitude toward empiricism? Is it possible to understand socially constructed knowledge through statistics? Or is empiricism more than statistics?

Passion and reason – Blyler and Charney. While Blyler passionately argues for radical, critical research, Charney takes the path of advocating a more rational, moderate, multi-method approach to research; one that acknowledges the shortcomings of each method in isolation, yet does not devalue any method in its entirety. During the reading of the passionately written, citation-heavy article by Blyler, I frequently was reminded of Foucault’s definition of discourse (read: rhetoric) as epistemic and as a form of social action. Blyler really calls for a sort of metadiscursive research approach that seems to have the ability to shed all discursive practice in which the researcher is embedded. To me that sounds super-human. Enter Nietzsche, alleging all truths to be allusions, a ‘fact’ (LOL) of which we are completely unaware, and, thus, rendering Blyler’s passionate call for the seeking of more accurate truths, founded in the realization of subjectivity and subject participation, also an allusion. Sigh. Continue reading “Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions…” Nietzsche

Synergies among methodoly proposals (Harrison/Sullivan)

My interest in the social media aspects of Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 technologies with respect to organizational knowledge management has naturally led me to the closer examination of the rhetorical situation and fitting responses to communicative exigences. With this as my baggage when reading Harrison, I found myself nodding almost throughout the entire article. She says, “The rhetorical situation places contextual boundaries around singular events and thus focuses our attention at tn analytic level below that of “organization.” Audiences, exigencies, and constraints forming rhetorical situations may arise within organizations, but the idea of organizations as social units forming a broader context for rhetoric cannot be accommodated to this approach.” (p. 257/8) Continue reading Synergies among methodoly proposals (Harrison/Sullivan)

Rhet sitch – right on!

Driskill, Selzer, Winsor, and others in the ‘Workplace Studies’ section focus on nonacademic writing, not on technical writers per se. What effect does this focus have on the research, methods, and conclusions of these authors?

Driskill urges an increased focus on the rhetorical aspects of a situation when determining the writing context. I could not agree more, specifically, in the realm of communicative exigences. In order to find the fitting response (Bitzer, 1968) to a communicative exigence in an organizational context, one needs to be very clear of the particular rhetorical situation. I see the lack of this at my workplace frequently. However, until now, that social media have entered the workplace, no one dared or even thought of changing the status quo, i.e. the perceived adequacy of communication was not challenged. An example of what I mean by this became apparent by the introduction of the corporate blog. The communication perceived as adequate when addressing issues with engineers was that it could not sound light, it had to be impersonal and must sound ‘corporate’. I don’t know of any empirical studies that verified this perception.

With introduction of the blog, however, little by little the technology allowed for the rhetorical situation to emerge. Almost through the backdoor, a lighter tone emerged in the conversation facilitated by the technology. Judging from the number of contribution and comments, it became apparent that an existant communicative exigence had found its fitting response. Not top-down, but rather bottom-up. In short, I completely agree with Driskill that we have to be much more analytic in determining the rhetorical needs in an organizational setting in order to develop the right kind of communication for that particular situation.

writers’ attitudes toward technical communication (Miller/Herndl)

In the these and the previous readings, much time has been devoted the topic of finding an adequate space and place for a Technical Communication program at a university. Often, the debate attempts to create dichotomies: Technical Writing vs. Literature, Humanities vs. Sciences, positivism vs. constructivism, rhetoric vs. science, techne vs. ars, objectivism vs. subjectivism, deductive reasoning vs. inductive reasoning. We have heard opposing views of what constitutes knowledge and how knowledge gets created. Invention yes, invention no. Is language knowledge or does language merely transport knowledge? Continue reading writers’ attitudes toward technical communication (Miller/Herndl)

An inscribed history for TC – a blessing and a curse

Is having an inscribed history (or a set of them) important to forming our discipline? If so, why? If not, why? What form of disciplinary history would you prefer to see?

I find this question to be quite significant in general but more so, now, after having read several of the selections in Central Works. Clearly, there is a need for a history to establish a discipline, to give the discipline a foundation, to give it reason for existence, to allow for extrapolation and future development. Further, an inscribed history establishes patterns, processes, and theories that validate the discipline. However, the inscribed history itself may stand in the way of progress because of how and by whom it was written. Continue reading An inscribed history for TC – a blessing and a curse

What’s technical about TC (Dobrin) – A response

What are the implications of Dobrin’s definition of tech comm for our identity as a profession of ‘tech writers’ or a discipline of ‘tech comm’? In what ways might or might not Slack’s ‘articulation’ (Thayer) be a workable response?

Dobrin’s definition of tech comm attempts to give technical writers organizational power by affording them the status of subject matter expert. “Technical writing is writing that accommodates technology to the user.” Curiously, but quite fittingly, Dobrin mentions the fact that the verb allows for syntactic wiggleroom in the invertibility of the direct and indirect objects. I would like to add one more facet of the verb ‘to accommodate’, it implies active contribution on the part of the accommodator and that clearly aligns itself with Slack’s definition of articulation. The technical communicator negotiates meaning with the information sender and the information receiver. This is an active process that clearly presumes subject matter expertise. Subject matter expertise is perceived as value added and, thus, conveys organizational power. With organizational power comes recognition and influence, both invaluable to implement progress and change. Continue reading What’s technical about TC (Dobrin) – A response

Konstanze Alex Brown