The events of September 11, 2001, provide enough case material for hundreds of cases that are applicable in Technical and Professional Communication courses. I developed the case described in this article to give students a real-world look at how corporations communicate in a crisis-in this case, a crisis of extraordinary proportions. The foundation for the case is the public communication via press releases from American Airlines and United Airlines via their press releases within the 24 hours following the first plane's crash into the World Trade Center. The activities provided allow students to produce appropriate corporate communication, in this case, press releases, using the details of the situation. They also provide a variety of ways to use crisis-response strategies, such as Coombs', to analyze, critique, compare and contrast how each airline constructed the messages it conveyed on this fateful day. This case study demonstrates how crucial each word of a message can be and allows students to reach concrete decisions about why a crisis-response plan, along with the accompanying crisis-response strategies and the resulting communication products are essential for any corporation.
In 1989 a bipartisan group of US congressmen attempted to use
high-definition television (HDTV) as a vehicle to redirect government
policy toward the consumer electronics industry. The authors explore why
that effort ultimately failed. It is noted that important technical
issues were rarely reflected accurately in the public policy debate. In
spite of efforts by the IEEE, engineers were largely absent from the
debate and failed to influence it. Technical arguments were carried on
primarily by those who did not understand the technical issues involved
or who distorted them to fit an established political philosophy. How
technical information about HDTV was used by the participants, and how
political factors set the terms by which technical information could or
could not be presented are examined. How engineers might have made a
more effective technical case for HDTV is considered
In this qualitative content analysis, I examined 55 articles with
keywords relating to collaboration published in the 1990-1999 issues of
five major technical communication journals. I considered the frequency,
types of research, and themes in the 55-article collection. My analysis
reveals differences in the authors' discussions of collaboration
depending on whether the collaboration occurred in the classroom or the
workplace. I also found that most of the 55 articles were more concerned
with collaborative practice than with theoretical discussions of
collaboration. Suggestions for future research include investigating how
experienced workplace collaborators and experienced teachers of
collaborative skills in technical communication courses solve the
nonroutine problems that occur when practice becomes difficult. From
these investigations, researchers might determine what constitutes
expertise in collaboration
Modern tools for sending the written word across distances have
given communicators new ways to reach audiences within organizations and
across organizational boundaries. The ways in which communicators must
now rethink the sources of information available for their messages, the
way they create messages, and the networks through which they distribute
their messages are discussed. The steps that the US Department of
Agriculture Forest Service went through when it created a unit to
distribute information on public opinion to its managers in more than
900 field offices nationwide are outlined
Many organizations are constantly changing their web presence. Despite the frequency of these redesigns, there appears to be little evidence to explain what kinds of changes are incorporated into each updated version of a web presence. To understand how commercial organizations transform their web presence, we conduct a content analysis and a cluster analysis of press releases describing redesign initiatives in the late 1990s. Findings suggest that the majority of companies redesigned their web presence to expand information and change navigation protocols. Surprisingly, the addition of interactive features such as online ordering and community communication channels is present in only 20% of the redesign cases studied. According to the groups provided by the cluster analysis, most of the changes reported in these press releases are centered on improving the usability of the web presence. Based on this evidence we conclude that initial transformations to commercial websites were more driven by the need to effectively communicate new information than by the addition of e-commerce features.
Technical and professional writing pedagogies have traditionally understood collaborative writing as an aggregate, cooperative venture between writers and subject matter experts. In contrast, this tutorial argues that Web 2.0 technologies offer technical and professional communication pedagogies more advantageous conceptions and practices of collaborative writing. The tutorial analyzes how new media technologies create a different collaborative writing environment and then discusses how these environments help collaborative writing methods create an alternative writing situation. The study concludes by examining the outcomes of student Web 2.0 research projects and by offering technical and professional writing instructors new pedagogical strategies for teaching collaborative writing.
This short paperback book is divided into 14 chapters and 2 exhibits. The book is designed to provide answers to two key questions - First, how do we reduce the number of emails we find in our mailbox each day, and ,second, how do we teach others to present information in the most effective manner? The solution, according to the authors, is simple: bottom line. In simple terms, it means bringing the subject to the front of the e-mail so that the reader finds the answer to the question "Why should I be interested? quickly. The authors develop a number of approaches that are suitable for most e-mail communication. The authors extend the concept to other business writing as well, but they admit there are circumstances that may require different approaches. The takeaway message is a good one for engineers, technical communicators, and managers alike. The book is an excellent addition to one's reading list and the local library's reference shelf.
This book is the published version of Gina Poncini's Ph.D. thesis, completed at University of Birmingham, UK. It provides an account of a research project in the traditional manner and substantial referencing of the literature. The work is motivated by the observation that work and business are becoming more difficult as a result of globalization, which has forced more people to confront the language and cultural interaction issues caused by working with people from other national backgrounds. Poncini examines the issue by presenting one particular company's experience. The book is divided into nine chapters. In Chapter 2, Poncini presents the view that a multinational business meeting is a distinctive structure that represents a unified culture in itself. Later chapters outline the methodology of the work, examine the use of personal pronouns, and investigate the use of specialized lexis. The use of language that expresses evaluation of subject matter is discussed, as well as the three major frames of reference of the communication structures used in the meetings. Poncini concludes by asserting that meetings form some kind of new culture, or are at least characterized by the participants' shared cultural practices, which is probably related to the individual benefit derived from achieving group success through coherence of the overall group. The text is a valuable contribution because it forces the reader to think more deeply and subtly about the nature of intercultural interactions.
Gerhard Buurman pulls together 19 separate interaction design articles into a surprisingly coherent whole. The book begins with articles on the history of information and interaction design, proceeds to articles on interaction design theory, and then ambles into the bulk of its contents: current research. Finally, Caroline Schubinger provides a nice conclusion to this disparate material. Overall, the book provides an accessible starting point for those new to the field while offering challenges to current researchers and theorists. The diversity of articles is at once the book's greatest asset and its greatest failing. It demands a reader willing to allow these articles to interact on their own terms.
This book is somewhat like a ghostly voice reminding the reader of lessons learned long ago, lessons that may have been forgotten in the hectic pace of business today. The authors blend manners and etiquette very nicely, making it difficult to tell one from the other unless the particular subject matter is looked at in context with a particular circumstance. The book consists of eight chapters, each covering a particular aspect of business etiquette. Among the topics covered are: successful meetings; basic business dining etiquette; special dining events; communication etiquette; and cross-cultural etiquette. The book offers the reader very little in new information, but provides a quick reminder for someone about to undertake an assignment, as well as some added bits of information to consider before the event. The book is worth reading, probably more than once, and is a welcome addition to the library.
This book discusses the technology behind portals and grid networks, describes grid technology's evolution, and helps readers make managerial decisions. It has 18 chapters and is divided into four sections. "The Toolset," consisting of three chapters, gives readers basic knowledge necessary to read the rest of the sections. In Section II, entitled "Web Services as Shared Resources," the authors describe web services in terms of a multi-tier architecture and discuss implementation. Section III, "Putting Portals on the Web," associates portals with web services, and thoroughly describes portals, including historical background, development framework, application platforms, maintenance, and management. The final section, "Grids as Virtual Organizations," covers grid goals, grid networks and applications, and web services as grid platforms. The book could be more reader-friendly by making sure all acronyms are escorted by their full names the first time they appear and providing more explanation of new ideas and concepts. Despite the slight flaws, the book is an excellent read and recommended for project managers, web architects, and IT students.
This soft-cover text provides an interesting look at technical communication around the world on a country-by-country basis. The authors generally follow the same sequence of questions, but not always. Deviations from this sequence can cause some problems when the reader is trying to compare two or more countries' laws, educational programs, or salary structures. The volume would have been more convenient as a reference text if the editors had merged the individual reports into a sequence of chapters covering the material. There is a recurring theme of educational requirements for the technical documentation writer and the fundamental lack of formal education of this type in most of the countries discussed. Even with its noted drawbacks, the book is informative and a good read for those who have chosen technical communication as a career path.
This book examines the place of mobile telephone technology in Japanese society. It is a compilation of chapters by various authors, most of whom work in social sciences or humanities in Japanese universities. The book is divided into five sections, representing a logical development of the methodology for investigating and presenting the issues developed by the editors: "The Social and Cultural Construction of Technological Systems"; "Cultures and Imaginaries"; "Social Networks and Relationships"; "Practice and Place"; and "Emergent Developments." The book is a very interesting exploration of the interaction between Japanese society and mobile telephony technology, discussing the kinds of uses and the impact of the changed possibilities effected by the existence and deployment of the technology.
Alan G. Gross, who wrote the classic 1990 work, Rhetoric of Science, returns almost two decades later with this text, in which he maintains and improves the coherence and thoughtfulness of his rhetorical approach to science. No longer a prophet, Gross returns as a seriously considered critic of scientific practice from the rhetorical perspective. His move from the revolutionary periphery of scientific study toward the its center begins as he backs away from the more radical statements of his earlier text. His choice of case studies also dampen the revolutionary tone, with the focus on historical examples. Additionally, the chapters have an impressive coverage. Gross deftly synthesizes so many of the different federalized domains of knowledge into single coherent arguments. The book is useful in two respects. First, it possesses tremendous historical significance, having set a tone that helped to legitimize the rhetorical study of science. Second, the book is useful for its insights into how literal and visual technologies of representation help to invent, legitimate, promote, and popularize scientific work.
This concise 181-page book introduces guidelines for those interested in improving their status in the hierarchy of modern, technology-driven organizations. The book is divided into five parts. Part One is an introduction to the guidelines needed to succeed in technological hierarchies. Part Two consists of 11 chapters that present the tale of I. M. Sharp, who went from being an average high school student to being a successful technocrat. Part Three consists of seven chapters that introduce a methodology that technologists can use in the management of high-technology projects. Part Four consists of six chapters that explain how to select projects, evaluate ideas, and thrive in a technological organization. Part Five consists of three chapters that summarize all the laws, corollaries, rules, and precepts presented in the book, serving as an excellent reference. The ideas in the book are presented in brief, practical, and reader-friendly format and the examples facilitate the understanding of the key points covered. The book will certainly interest readers who are looking for a career in a technology-driven organization.
In this book, the author mentors his readers in principles of designing a web portfolio, a multimedia vehicle that allows individuals and companies to show their work across geographical boundaries. He outlines a modular process for developing a web portfolio and explains common pitfalls that can interfere with the process. Topics covered include: conceptualization; information design and visual design; content, collection, development and management; web page design; functionality; uploading and testing sites; and portfolio launch and promotion. This practical book is worth the time and price.
This book outlines what public relations professionals think it means to do the right thing and what they truly must do to advance their careers. The authors talked with almost 200 "diverse professionals" and received survey responses from more than 1,000 others. The 11 chapters if the book not only present the authors' research, but also they provide background on the public relations profession. The book provides extensive information in an organized manner and includes relevant data charts throughout the book to call out highlights of the research. Those who manage public relations or communications activities will find this book relevant to the work they do.
Expectations for a book in its 6th edition are relatively high: it must have more than casual merit to garner continued editions, and this book meets most expectations quite nicely. Structure, content, and presentation combine for an effective text for those practicing technical communication (or pursuing the educational prerequisites for such a career plan). Some of the topics covered include: resources for technical communication; visual communication; workplace literacy; collaboration and ethics; document design; the need for good definitions; description; instructions, procedures, and process explanations; the different types of reports; letters, memos, and email; and career communication (a.k.a. resume writing) and oral presentations. The text is well written and should prove useful to the practicing technical writer, regardless of the particular industry in which he or she is employed. It will be referred to on a regular basis.
This 160-page book acquaints readers with the tools, techniques, and the discipline of project management. The first two chapters get readers up to speed by listing and defining vocabulary terms. The elements of project management are then presented: planning the project; developing a mission, vision, goals, and objectives for a project; using the work breakdown structure to plan a project; scheduling project work; producing a workable schedule; project control and evaluation; and project control using earned value analysis. Three chapters focus on managing the people who work on projects. While the book lays out the fundamentals in an accessible way for general readers, it will by no means give potential project managers all that they need to know.
This book addresses a wide spectrum of issues in technical communication, ranging from specific visual elements to the entire research process, from brief memos to formal proposals. Part I, "Communication in the Workplace," starts with how to prepare an effective technical document and deliver the essential information. In Part II, "The Research Process," the author outlines both the procedural and the inquiry stages of the research. Part III, "Structural and Style Elements," focuses on strategies for organizing and conveying messages that users can follow and understand: partitioning and classifying, outlining, storyboarding, paragraphing, sequencing, chunking, and creating an overview. Part IV, "Visual, Design, and Usability Elements," further enhances the discussion in Part II about technical documents. The author talks about the rhetorical implications of graphics and page design so that readers can learn to enhance a document's access, appeal, and visual impact for audiences. Part V, "Specific Documents and Applications," is a rich "think tank" of applications in technical communications. The author offers instructions on almost all the writing styles you can think of - from memos, instant messages, and webpages, to resumes, letters, and proposals. The last part, "A Brief Handbook with Addition Sample Documents," has three appendices that once again address the writing process, editing, and research findings documentation. Readers can also find a wealth of resources on the book's companion website: www.alongman.com/lannonweb. This book presents a panorama of technical communication, providing readers with a look at every aspect of this profession. It is not only a comprehensive textbook for classroom teaching, but also a valuable reference book for instructors and working professionals.
This book explains the paper and electronic portfolio-building process, using the portfolio for job seeking, and relevant legal and ethical issues. Included in its nine chapters are the following topics: an overview of the importance of portfolios, their various types and formats, and strategies to organize a portfolio; creating a personal identity; the content, design, and structure of portfolios; revising and improving portfolio quality; representing skills and expertise in electronic portfolios; ethical and legal issues; strategies for getting feedback; and the use of portfolios for job hunting. Each chapter opens with an introduction and closes with a summary of the key ideas. Much of the information is explained in tables and as checklists, making it efficient to find particular information of readers' interest. Another unique feature is that each chapter is relatively independent. This book is recommended for technical and professional communication students and practitioners who seek a practical guide on portfolio creation.
This book bridges two fields - the management of teams and the use of collaborative software tools to support work in the virtual team environment. It is divided into two parts: the first addressing the managing of virtual teams and the second an evaluation of software tools to support the virtual teams. Chapter 1 discusses team dynamics in a virtual team. Chapter 2 concerns the establishment of a virtual team. Chapter 3 discusses the choice of particular collaborative tools. Chapter 4 addresses decisions about communicating with the team, while Chapter 5 addresses the issues of coordinating the team. In Chapter 6, the authors advocate the use of a wiki for authorship of documents, while in Chapter 7, they discuss the conduct of project reviews. Chapter 8 concerns the processes required to manage risk and change, while Chapter 9 wraps up Part 1 by discussing the evaluation of projects. Part 2 describes the general classes of tools available, the variety of features available in tools, and the interaction of those features with different types of of situations presented in virtual team work. The chapters of this part deal with the general approach used by the authors, the issues of installation, customization and security, collaborative software suites, meeting and communication tools, information broadcasting tools, information sharing tools, information gathering tools, "push" technologies, and wikis. The guidance provided in this book will be of considerable assistance to anyone making decisions about appropriate tools to support collaborative virtual teamwork.