Project Four: Visual Ethics


It is a requirement of ENG 3050 that we have at least one assignment that takes into account the intersecton of technical communication and ethics. Although we will have some opportunities to take up the general questions about how the kinds of writing and persuasion that occur in the composition of technical communication can have negative and positive impacts on various individuals, as well as how far one can or should go in using data to forward a particular proposal, these discussions, like most of those on this topic, stress the negative possibilities (or ethical challenges) of technical communication. Project 4 is designed to emphasize the positive possibilities for technical communication to emphasize some area of contemporary life that can be reasonably referred to as involving ethics (ethical judgment, ethical responsibility, aids to ethical decision-making, etc.). this project you (or your team) will create an image or active visualization that is meant to  influence its audience to think about the ethical dimensions of a particular situation.  Your deliverables for this assignment will be composed of the image/visualization itself plus a short (1-2 page, single-spaced description of the data used in the image, its potential audience, and what effect you were hoping it would produce on that audience).


Although most the projects for this course have given you free-reign to choose subject matter, I think it is safe to say that this is the assignment that gives you the largest degree of freedom in choosing a topic and a delivery-mechanism. We’ll look at a few different examples of possible approaches over the next couple of weeks as well as a few different technologies/applications you might use for this project.


Your image/visualization should be designed for a digital format (e.g., designed so that it can be accessed on online, as a page on our wiki, hosted on another site, or on a unique web page you have created). The document you produce to provide context for the assignment should detail the following categories:

  • What information is represented in this visual?
  • Where did you find the info/data used in the visual?
  • How/why does this visual involve a question or consideration relevant to ethical thinking/decision-making?
  • For what audience did you design this visual?
  • What effect to you want the visual to have on this audience?
  • What strategic decisions do you make in its design in order to produce this effect?



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