3050 Session Two: Purpose and Audience 9/2/14

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Today’s Agenda:

  • Problems with wordpress or wikipedia?
  • Syllabus questions
  • Review of Chapters 1 & 3 of Technical Communication
  • Introduction to Project One
  • Team Formations

What is Technical Communication?

Essential Aspects:

  • Produced for a practical purpose (to inform, explain, instruct)
  • Directed toward (a) particular audience(s)
  • Focused on “usability” of final product and/or or persuasive power in influence the decisions of stakeholders (rather than aesthetic concerns, enjoyment, etc.)

 Common Aspects:

  • Uses several popular genres of writing/communication (memo, report, instruction set, white paper, proposal, progress report, etc)
  • Employs visuals, graphics, formatting techniques
  • Often requires collaboration
  • Increasingly produced in a digital environment
  • Deadline driven

 

Reader-Centered Strategies for Effective Technical Communication (part one)

We’ll discuss this in greater detail in later classes

  • Help readers find key information quickly
  • Use an accessible writing style

 

Defining the Objective of a Technical Communication:

 

  • What task will your communication help a reader perform?
  • What information does your reader desire/require?
    • What is your reader already likely to know?
    • What will need to be explained to them?
  • How will your reader “read” the communication (skim for key points? read from beginning to end? read in a hurry?)?
  • How will your reader use the information you are providing (as a reference? to perform a certain action? to make a decision?)?
  • What constraints/affordances are provided you as a writer, given your task and the genre of your writing and/or its delivery mechanism?

(See Figure 3.1 in Text or download the Writer’s Guide here.)

Beginning Project One

Memo for Project One:

Between now and midnight of Wednesday 9/3/14 you will compose a memo (300-500 words, single spaced) with information about the following:

  1. group membership and your group’s decision on the “rank-and-yank” question as well as any other essential information about how you plan to collaborate productively (e.g., settle problems, delegate work);
  2. the topic you have chosen for Project One and why you think this is an appropriate topic given the expertise of your group and the constrains of Wikipedia as an open-author knowledge base (see, in particular, the questions listed above under “Defining the Objective of a Technical Communication” for guidance on this question);
  3. the challenges of the assignment, as you see them, given the constraints of Wikipedia entries in general and your chosen topic in particular; and
  4. your strategies for overcoming the challenges you have identified.

You have already read a chapter on writing effective memos in Technical Communication. See also here and here for other useful information on memo writing.

Before leaving class today, please provide me with the following information by filling out the form below or on a slip of paper.

Homework:

  • READ for Thursday:
    • Markel on Writing Definitions pages 564 – 571 & 574-579
    • Using this list, or Google, find a blog related to your major, career path, or personal interest.  Read a post or two to get a feel for the blog and blogger(s). Post the URL of your chosen blog on your wordpress site.
  • WRITE:
    • Upload Project One Memo to your blog by 11:59 pm, Wed. 9/3/14
    • Write an evaluation (@ 300-500 words) describing the blog you found above.  Identify and describe the following:
      • Readers and their characteristics
      • What the blogger(s) want their readers to do
      • The ways the blogger(s) influence readers’ attitudes and actions
      • How well these objectives were met (or not).
      • Post this to your wordpress or other blog by 11:59 pm, Mon. 9/8/14
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