Monthly Archives: October 2011
In chapter 8, Qualman warns to never “build your own Field of Nightmares by building or replicating a social network for your company.” I found this quote particularly interesting since the audiology practice where I work utilizes both a major social media tool, Facebook, as well as a company based site run by our 3rd party investors. Our 3rd party investors created a site called “The CEO” that only members can access. The site works a lot like Facebook, where there is a chat and message feature, as well as a wall to post on and personal pages. I feel in some ways Qualman is right, but not in others. I think if a company were to create a social media site for the public, it would fail because it would only cater to a fairly small population. However, for our practice, CEO is an excellent way for us to connect with other practices and audiologists in our field since it is strictly limited to those who are a part of the organization. Since the site is based around a network of practices all endorsed by the same company, we have so much to gain from one another.
I am having a hard time coming up with the main point of this week’s readings, but I realize I don’t have to have all the answers. Sharing ideas and learning is what the blog is for. Writing my blog post and reading other posts will help me understand the material better.
Our class blog hasn’t replaced our need for D2L, but the blog is a great improvement in the ways students in the class share information. D2L is necessary for uploading and downloading information, retrieving comments and grades, and other administrative tasks. In the D2L discussion board and our blog, content, namely written word is most important. Beyond words, the blog blows the discussion board out of the water.
I am enjoyed reading about the lexicon relating to information design (Spilka, p 109), and how these concepts help people understand and utilize information better. I could relate the lexicon to many things I do at my job – like; how will Dave Smith retrieve and utilize a document I send him? Or, what should the template for a proposal work with the text? I could also relate the lexicon to our blog.
In the blog, I have control over the formatting, fonts, pictures, headings, embedded media, and links. Tools for mapping and navigation are okay (I think it could be a little better). If I want to read all of Heidi’s or Robin’s posts, I can click on their names. I can look in the archives by month, or just scroll by date. I wish we could separate the posts by week a little better. I’ve noticed we can see when the most views of the blog. There are taxonomy (tagging and categorical assignment) capabilities. The blog just seems like a better learning and sharing environment than D2L.
Giving More Credit to Early Websites
I would give more credit to designers of early websites (Spilka, p 106). While early websites were rudimentary compared to websites of today, like any new thing, websites in the late 1990s were in their infancy. When websites were being created for the first time, people did not know how to best make a website—optimized for readability and usability. Before websites, a standard format was an 8.5×11 portrait-orientated piece of paper. People knew how to design for that. I compare this to the invention of cars—how long had cars been invented before people decided to run tests for safety or optimal performance?
Making Sense of the Digital Landfill
I’m still trying to make sense out of the Digital Landfill website. Are we specifically to look at January 28, 2011? In addition, the PowerPoint was okay, but it seems like it only half makes sense without the speaker (even though we have his notes).
How do you get a large group of people to write well together? This is challenge that my company faces everyday. I’m going to focus this post on Chapter 5, Content Management—Beyond Single Sourcing, by William Hart-Davidson because this chapter opened my eyes to the question of large groups writing together.
On page 141, Hart-Davidson says, “…if their expertise is used properly, technical communicators can help organizations avoid the pitfalls and prosper.” I think this statement sums up everything I’ve noticed since I’ve been out of college and in industry. A lot of companies don’t understand the value with having a technical communicator in the organization.
I think if you’re going to have a company with a content group, you need to have a couple of technical communicators involved because they tend to understand the usability that content management needs to have and they also understand what a quality document is versus a document that isn’t too necessary for the organization.
It’s weird because I used to work for a company where there were only two writers in the entire organization. My coworker and I created everything. It was nice because we didn’t have too many other people sticking their noses into the details of our content. Now I work for a company where there are 40 people creating content together for the same audience. It’s completely different than what I’m used to.
Working with 40 other writers/designers/photographers is super challenging because everyone wants something different with the document. The writer wants good content. The designer wants a nice looking page. The photographer wants certain images to be a certain size on a page. A lot of my time is spent trying to convince people that the content I create needs to be on the page.
My biggest problem with my job is that the three managers (one for each group) only understand the one aspect that he or she is in-charge of. I’m 100 percent confident that if my company put a technical communicator in-charge of all three groups, everything would get done and the quality of the documents would improve because a technical communicator understands how writing, designing, and photography work together to make a page.
The managers at my company are too old-school and they don’t listen to suggestions. I’ve told my boss that I have a lot more skills (e.g. design and understanding CMS) and they just don’t want to hear it. I think my bosses need to be educated about the field of Tech. Comm. The problem is it’s challenging to educate people that don’t want to listen.
Here’s a link to the Adobe Tech. Comm. team: http://blogs.adobe.com/techcomm/tag/adobe
They use a blog which I think is pretty cool because it allows customers and employees to interact as a group. I think a large writing group within an organization could use something like this.
So I complain a lot about my organization not using social media effectively. Well, Google turned on Google+ plus for their educational edition and the University of Minnesota jumped on board. Read the story here: http://blogs.twincities.com/yourtechweblog/2011/10/27/the-u-of-m-a-google-apps-using-school-embraces-google/
I am wondering what happens when a University doesn’t just allow its employees/students to use social media but actually encourages/expects them to by making it an available University tool? Will people be more apt to collaborate and engage if they are doing it through University provided service that is tied to their University account instead of a personal account? It’s interesting to think about.
There were two key points in Qualman readings that really hit home with me. The first one is “Be more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Oglivy; listen first, sell second.” Social media is the perfect tool for listening to your customers. It gives them an open forum to complain or praise. I’m a firm believer that if you want to be successful at business (or communication) you need to have constant contact with your customers. You need to have conversations with them so you learn about their expectations, their wants, their needs, and their desires. I like to think of social media sites as never-ending, completely-open focus group.
The other idea that I really liked is “It’s better to live in a social media life making mistakes than living in a social media life doing nothing.” This idea is not new to me. I have been screaming this idea at my coworkers for years, yet they are still in the “we need to plan or social media strategy” phase. I think they are afraid to make mistakes with social media. I tell them over and over that we just need to do it. We have a Facebook page we have nearly 300 fans, who are just waiting to engage with us, yet we continue to use it as a news delivery vehicle.
My coworkers are afraid to engage with fans on Facebook. Every time a fan comments on a news story we basically have to have a meeting to figure out how we should respond to them. I say just do it.
If you are curious you can check out my organization’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/University-of-Minnesota-Information-Technology/228749862154. It is real exciting.
I found it interesting the way Spilka brought up how Internet or computer based websites and documents are usually presented in a similar format, and without realizing it, we as users learn to expect a certain presentation when working with sources on the web. Spilka also goes on to explain that if a website or e-mail does not follow this common format “code,” we may not take it as seriously or even disregard it all together. The lack of expected format may also hinder the user’s ability to access and utilize the site for what it is meant for, causing the user to instead choose a different site to collect their information. I know personally at the workplace when I receive memos or reports from my coworkers I expect them to be in a certain format, and if they lack the format I am used to, I tend to question them rather than read and utilize their instructions or information. The same goes for websites. When I choose a site to collect information from, I tend to be drawn to the sites that keep the familiar format of starting with a home page, then from there direct the user via a list of links pertaining to each different topic the website covers. I never realized how important the format of a source could be, as well as how the format used links to my understanding and utilization of the material.
See in the above clip opponent of technology in action!
The chapter impressed me about the new revelations I learned about twitter which I didn’t know before. The rhetoric surrounding Twitter and the rhetorical implication of Twitter are becoming fascinating and are everywhere. Before I read this chapter I didn’t know that :
- Twitter is ideal for sharing quick messages with groups. Probably because I didn’t use Twitter before reading this chapter.
- Shows all signs of real cultural phenomenon reason being the notion of being widely mocked being featured on “The Daily Show”.
- Recently featured during a NASCAR race as well as receiving mass media coverage.
As if this was not enough there is that side of technical communicators perspective which I find most interesting. There are emerging rhetorical implications of Twitter.
- Twitter is public – when you post and ask for help incase you have a problem with installing something, within seconds you will get response on Twitter more than in a class settings.
- Twitter can be endlessly resorted and reorganized. Twitter is not like most messaging systems which are designed for short-lifespan messages. Popular current trends in lists, can be search via location through Twitter search.
- Twitter is powerful in the aggregate. The public tweets allow Twitter to offer new and interesting possibilities for searching which help users to find and track events too new to appear on Google.
Twitter has been a versatile discovery and its helpful in information sharing, messaging in professional settings as well as accomplishing workplace tasks.
What I learned:
- Cultural affiliations of technology – having some baseline, cultural agreements about what technologies should be allowed(p.88). The cell phone has its critics. Cell phones are not allowed in classes disturbance and in doctor’s offices, and movie theaters because they jam technologies. I like how Clark termed all these opponents of technologies.
- Another interesting point Gurak (1997), I like how Gurak showed interest in leveraging the rhetorical concepts of interpretive communities and the two key rhetorical elements namely ethos and delivery to evaluate the rhetoric used by on line communities.
- The “bridging’ between worker and tool. The argument by “Spinuzzi (2003), technical communicators have seen texts that they produce – manuals, references, instructions as bridging between worker and tool. This topic can be discussed at length and it is debatable. It reminds me of the middleman threat when it comes to the digital world.
Dave Clark’s essay on rhetoric in technology was extremely esoteric but I was able to take away some good ideas. I agree with him that technology and rhetoric are co-embedded in culture (p 85). I also agree that the words rhetoric and technology are both hard to pin down, so doing a review of the discipline is a slippery slope.
The theoretical frameworks he introduces (rhetorical analysis, technology transfer and diffusion, genre theory and activity theory) don’t seem to click into place- none of them seem to neatly apply themselves to technology rhetoric. It is true when he says, “This lack is unfortunate at a time when technical communicators more than ever need to develop and use rhetorical tools for evaluating and implementing new technologies” (p 96). However, technology (no matter how you define it) is moving so fast that, as a target, it is going to continue to be hard to nail down.
I also found it interesting that he notes that other scholars have acknowledged that current activity theory analyses are incomplete because, “… [they] ignore the circumstances in which much knowledge work is done, that is, in for-profit, hierarchical corporations” (Thralls and Blyler, 1993, p. 14).
As I sit here and type, I have no internet. I don’t know the last time this has happened to me. We have ordered an upgrade to our DSL and AT&T didn’t tell us there would be a minimum twelve-hour outage while they complete the steps. It is absolutely disconcerting. Both my husband and I had a day off: he is sick and I took a vacation day to study. When I came downstairs this morning, he said: “You’re going to have a tough day ahead.” He told me about the outage. I told him I had all my homework on my desktop. Luckily.
It has been frustrating, as I’ve worked on assignments, to not be able to hop on the internet to look up a fact, use the much easier OWL database, and take a ‘brain break’ by checking my Facebook or Pinterest.
The reason I bring all of this up is that it relates to the Qualman reading for this week. He discusses, “That old adage that you can only have two out of the following – cheap, quick, or quality – doesn’t hold true within social media …”(p 108). He’s wrong-o. For us AT&T only lets us have one: quality.
In some of our other readings, he’s talked about the “little man” being able to champion his cause on social media, however some conglomerations are so big and have such a strangle hold that it doesn’t matter if you tweet or blog about it – unless you’re already famous. AT&T won’t let me get an iPhone unless I get a data plan with it. I am in wifi range almost every waking moment of my life. I don’t need a data plan. It made my husband madder than a wet hen that they wouldn’t separate out the service, but we can’t retaliate by boycotting AT&T. We still need them for their sweet, sweet bandwidth.
As of now, I have only three and a half hours left to wait til we’re back online. Maybe. Since I’m really having a hard time with the withdrawal, it makes me wonder if – as a new media student – I am a junkie studying heroin.
Because I watched this video with my freshman today and because of Chris’s comment to Nate’s post, I thought it might be nice to share Jonathan Zittrain’s TED talk on some of the nicer things that happen on the web.
For more on the community ethos of Wikipedia or what Zittrain refers to as “random acts of kindness by geeky strangers,” be sure to watch Jimmy Wales’ TED talk too. Actually, while I’m link sharing, I also came across this story on the success of Wikipedia today.
I enjoyed chapter 5 in Qualman, it definitely hit home for me. I have used Facebook since February 2008, and it has been a part of my everyday life ever since. I found it enlightening when it noted how a major part of Facebook’s success is its ability to allow its users to “brag, compete, or look cool” without breaking any of the unacceptable social rules of our society. It is frowned upon to brag about oneself openly to others, but with social media outlets, such as Facebook, our page is our own, and if we want to brag a little, it is totally acceptable. Most of us don’t even realize we are doing it! For instance, if I do well at a rodeo or barrel race, I post that as my status. However, in real life I would never walk up to someone and begin a conversation with my recent successes. Ultimately, I believe we enjoy these social media outlets so much because it allows us to break the rules of society and create a totally “look at me” personal page with only the best pictures of ourselves, only what we like, such as activities, quotes, movies, and books, as well as posting statuses about our beliefs, feelings, and lives that we may never share if no one in the real world asks about it specifically. I have always wondered what it was exactly that made me waste sometimes hours of the day on Facebook, sometimes procrastinating other more important things (such as homework!) in order to do so. I believe Qualman sums it up perfectly. Maybe now with this new outlook I’ll be able make Facebook less of an obsession… maybe!
Social Media creates, solves long voting lines:
Qualman brought a point on political realms when he mentioned how the social media revolution played an important part to help ease the burdens of crowds and hassle which are always the norm during voting exercise. He suggested micro blogging tool to help supply real-time data on polling conditions. The mobile device was a crucial tool because it was used to send in reports. Qualman mentioned so many other alternatives which made the voting exercise to be manageable in the 2008 elections. His assertion is proved that utilizing free social media tools and placements is more timely and cost effective than traditional advertising. I like the point Qualman used to alert politicians and governments regarding the use of social media. He urged them to keep up with advancements in social media, because they will be left behind. He points out that using social media in politics pays big dividends and also he pointed out the success of Obama’s 2008 and the role of the internet which helped him to win. Social media is here to stay and we are all benefiting from it.
Qualman reminded me the importance of Face book postings when he related the Texas Longhorn offensive lineman and preventative behavior in social media. Soon after posting his racist update on his Face book profile about Barack Obama when he was elected president of the United States. I think people should know that the speed of information exchanged within social media mitigates casual schizophrenic behavior.
According to (Qualman, 123) soon after that was posted. Coach Mack Brown kicked the lineman off the team. Even though the lineman posted an apology the damage had already been done. People should know that social media cannot be used for own gain that is offensive or provocative language cannot be entertained on Face book.
I read this article in yahoo news : http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/american-faces-15-years-prison-blog-post-insulting-162308225.html. You may check it out its very important to blog with a sense of responsibility because there is always the law to punish people who are careless so that is why it is important to be ethical in whatever you do especially with social media. There is no way that you can write anything abusive and get away with it.
What I learned:
- I learned that I should not under estimate the power of social media in all what I do be it on personal or business
- Social media should be respected at all times for it might get you into trouble if you use it negatively like in the above Texas Longhorn offensive’s story.
- Ethics should be part of us as long as we move on with social media we will be at peace.
In with the old –In with the new!
I consider myself a pretty computer-savvy and up to date kind of gal; however, right out of the box, many of the concepts that R. Stanley Dicks presented refreshed my thinking. Ok, I was not surprised to find out that “Today, a majority of technical communicators are women…” (Spilka, 51). What was a wakeup call was the concept that our industry is not only about the here and now – it encompasses generations of techniques and information.
This should not have come as a surprise to me because in my own present industry, we have UPS (uninterruptible power systems) units in the field that were manufactured in the 80’s and earlier. In order to provide technical assistance, we have to utilize old manuals. Sometimes, it is necessary to recap these dusty tomes or adjust our present technology to work on these older units. One example is the ports they provide. A technician can easily communicate with a newer unit via the communications card; however, an older unit used a serial port. As many of you know, serial ports are no more standard today on a laptop than a 3 ½ inch floppy drive. This creates an element of transition and clarification when dealing with these older systems.
Present your greater worth or prepare to be outsourced!
Here is a concept that sends shivers up my spine. Then again, I suppose there are levels and levels of justification to contend with here. A company that does not make a profit cannot afford to hire and if outsourcing menial tasks keeps the boat afloat, then so be it. I know that many charge ahead with “buy American!” I agree with this sentiment; however, I am
also a realist and what is real to me is that we live in a global world, not just a local neighborhood. We no longer compete with only the talented individuals in our home town. We now compete with people all over the country and world!
It hit home with me when the book’s discussion centered on a post industrialist society and referred to technical communicators of old as “word smiths” (Spilka 54). This scenario is
nothing new to our society. There was a time when a person graduated high school (or most often not), went to the factory and worked there as unskilled labor for 40 years until they retired with a pension. These jobs have also been mostly outsourced – it is time for America to work smarter!
As many of you know, I work for a company as a Technical Sales Specialist. What is this? It is not simply a salesperson. In order to protect my job, I need to bring many skills to the table while at the same time helping to keep down costs. I do this by providing the following:
- Work from home which saves over $600 per month in office expense alone
- Maintain my own records, do my own calls and provide sales and service to my customers as:
- Main contact
- Dispatcher for Technicians
- Quoting units, services, batteries, parts and other for a variety of manufacturers
- Provide pricing, availability and freight along with tracking information for orders
- Maintain a database of technical documentation that can be distributed at need
- Handle technical calls when they arise, and whenever possible at all hours
There are other benefits that I provide as well, but in the end it is all about planned job security. I know that I cannot just sit back and do the minimum – this will flag me for replacement.
As is exemplified in the model by Zuboff and Maxim, I have already placed my customer at the center of my universe – I am ahead of the game. As a matter of fact, I would consider my
model to be one of Customer-Centered, not Corporation-Centered.
I just heard on the news this morning that Netflix abandoned its plans to split their service into two (video streaming and DVD rentals). I can’t help but wonder how much of their decision was driven by social media. I know their was tremendous opposition to their plan and clearly remember the Twitter wire lighting up with #netflix hashtags.
If you are interested the story can by found here: http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/netflix-abandons-qwikster/.
Here is one interesting line from the story. “The move baffled many and was perhaps further complicated by the fact that Netflix had no control over the @Qwikster Twitter account.”
I found the R. Stanley Dicks article in the Spilka book really interesting–especially the section on economics. Studying economics is passion of mine. While most people’s bookshelves are filled with great fiction, mine is filled with books on economics by F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Adam Smith. I know. I’m a dork. But it is probably why I found this section of the Dicks article so fascinating. It also got me thinking how technical communicators can increase profits for their organization. Dicks article touched on some of this, but there wasn’t any real advise on how to increase profits. He basically says technical communicators need to show their value. They need to show that they are more than wordsmiths. I agree.
Technical communicators are in an interesting position in their organizations, well, at least in my experience anyways. Technical communicators typically know all the different facets of the organization because they work with all the departments. I’ve put this to work for me. Because I know all the parts of the organizations, I look for connections between groups and find ways for them to collaborate. For example, I work with one group that is responsible for managing Virtual Private Network (VPN) for the University of Minnesota. They provide VPN clients for people to download and install on their computers. I manage their website and documentation. I work with another group that uses Microsoft Active Directory to manage computers (e.g., deploy software, make updates, control power usage). Because I work with both groups, I made the connection that these two groups need to work together, so the VPN group can use Active Directory to deploy their VPN clients.
That is just one example of how I make connections to get people to work together. I wouldn’t have possible if I wasn’t familiar with both departments because of my work communicating for them. This example doesn’t translate directly into increase profits (Keep in mind I work in higher ed. There are no profits.). But it does translate into savings through increased efficiency.
I like the example I gave because I think it is something realistic that technical communicators can do to show their value to their organization.
During this week’s readings, I identified a few shared themes that both authors touched on – although their approaches were very different. In this week’s post, I’ll review both authors’ ideas about two topics: middlemen and specialization.
Both authors agree that, in the new information economy, there will be fewer communication obstacles between parties in corporate relationships. That means fewer “middlemen,” no matter what relationship.
The first example of middleman elimination is in regards to internal corporate communication. According to R. Stanley Dicks in his article “The Effects of Digital Literacy” from the anthology Digital Literacy for Technical Communication, supervisors are becoming less and less necessary as knowledge workers become more savvy and come into the workplace at a similar educational level as their supervisors. During the industrial age, supervisors oversaw eight to ten workers. Dicks asserts that supervisors can now lead 30-40 workers due to their education and motivation levels (p. 67-68).
Qualman, in his book Socialnomics, makes a similar argument about the layers; however, his assertions cover the relationship between company and consumer. Web 2.0 has given customers the power to communicate directly with the company – and with their peer groups in regard to a company’s products, services and behaviors. In the past if a customer had a complaint, the only recourse they had was to contact customer service. Since customer service calls were private, one-on-one conversations the general public wouldn’t know anything about problems. Compaines could more easily get away with shoddy products or services. These days, companies need to be watchful. With the transparency of Web 2.0, customer experiences – whether good or bad – are broadcast to the world. Qualman states, “…the iddlemen are becoming less important than they’ve been in the past, and the rise in power is shifting rapidly to the social graph” (133).
The authors both touch on the idea of specialization, but approach them from very different angles.
A running theme in the Dicks reading is the idea that technical communicators must abandon the old paradigm of being solely writers and editors, and embrace a broader view of their role in the future. He asserts that technical communicators should become “symbolic-analytic workers,” who are able to “analyze, synthesize, combine, rearrange, develop, design and deliver the same information that they or others will then modify for multiple audiences” (p.54). He also claims that technical communicators may want to learn skills outside their normal purview, like “…learning about Extensible Markup Language (XML), databases, and some light programming…” (p. 70). Workers who develop these skills are less likely to be casualties of companies outsourcing writing and editing duties.
Qualman explores the importance of specialization from a company marketing perspective. He discusses the fact that many companies try have a broad appeal by advertising many of their features rather than homing in on a specialty. Rather than use scattershot marketing to hit as many potential targets as possible, these days companies have to emphasize how they’re unique, both to set themselves apart and to let their niche customers find them. “If you don’t have a niche position in a marketplace that you are attempting to defend from your competition, and you are trying to be all things to all people, then you are doomed to failure” (p 128).
As can be seen from the readings, experts are finding trends in this new information age of ours. Although their approaches are different, I think it’s interesting that these themes keep popping up on parallel tracks. Has anyone else noticed any interesting trends in our readings?
“Three Apples changed the World, one seduced Eve,one fell on Newton and the third was offered to the World,half bitten by Steve Jobs.” – BBC
After reading chapter 2 on the effects of digital literacy on the nature of technical communication work I concluded that change is inevitable in technical communication realms. The chapter explained that most documents were written with the assumption that their audience consisted of technologically savvy users. This gives the writer less work because its use did not have to be explained. I like the ease of work in all areas. Spilka mentioned the replacing of old industrial modeled organizations by support organizations with specialty in managing customer’s interactions with service and product providers. This is the reason of ease of work because all I have to do when taking vacations is to get on the internet and keep in touch with a support person who already has on file my preferences for all of the services to do everything for me. The chapter emphasized on the tutorials and three-dimensional user interfaces. Spilka mentioned that technical communicators need to reshape their status by learning technologies and methodologies like single sourcing. Single sourcing is good because it is the use of one single document as the source for multiple kinds of product support documents
Such as manuals and online help.
Outsourcing has been part of technical communication for a long time. The meaning of outsourcing: it is an effort to improve the bottom line so that a company’s profits will be higher and its stock will be more attractive to investors. Spilka brought brilliant points about methods to prevent technical communicators prevent their jobs from being outsourced. The strategy is to make sure that they do symbolic analytic work instead of commodity work. Commodity work includes routine writing describing the features and functions of a product.
Qualman incorporated quite a number of examples to promote his idea about the popularity of social media. I found Dancing Matt-Something to Chew On interesting amongst them all. The idea of Mathew Harding quitting his job to travel and filmed his dance for entertaining is unique. The video passed around by email is evident enough to promote social media. The statistics revealed that Matt’s server received 20,000 hits a day is alarming. I like the way Qualman , 27 describes the beauty of the video with no language barriers because visual rhetoric is self explanatory.
This connects well with visual rhetoric because a good visual design works the same way as an argument, conveying information without excessive elaboration. Qualman further gives a good description of Matt’s video. He said, “it really makes you feel good about us one day eventually all being connected globally”. To me it seems that with social media a person can connect anywhere. With social media we can be able to do anything because social media will always be our mouthpiece.
I like the idea that Qualman mentioned about the success of a brand because of simply associating itself with social media that is already virally successful which gives other brands something to chew on.
Qualman’s discussion of living in a “schizophrenic” world was interesting to me. I feel we all do this whether we realize it or not. I know for a fact I have different personas. I have the person I am at work, extremely professional, a little shy, and productive. Then I have the person I am on the weekends, a cowgirl hauling to rodeos and barrel races with my horses and boyfriend. Sometimes I feel as though I’m leading a double life! This got me thinking about the personas we portray of ourselves on social media sites such as Facebook. Personally I can think of several people I am subscribed to on Facebook that post statuses that seem very different than who the person is in real life. However, the subscribers that I don’t know personally, I feel as though I know them through reading their statuses… but is that a reasonable way to feel as if I “know” someone? Probably not.
Qualman brought up a whole different perspective regarding social media that I had never taken into account. He explains that we as human beings have the need to belong and yet to be an individual in order to be fulfilled. Social media plays into both of these needs, allowing each person their own “page” while also connecting them with their own networks of friends, family, coworkers, as well as complete strangers the individual may have never met. The creators of social media websites use different ways to keep the users “coming back for more” with the way they word different areas of their sites. For instance, using Facebook: we “like” each other’s postings, making the user feel as though they are getting approval from their friends. Friend requests rather than saying “subscriber” causes the user to feel as though that person is interested in their page, photos, and thoughts when the person may be a complete stranger sending out friend requests to random people so they too can feel as though they belong. I have fallen victim to Facebook, I love it! I found Qualman’s outlook on social media to be another unique way of analyzing the hold it has on our society.
I’m using the Notepad program on my computer to paste my blog post from Word to Wordpad to get rid of the formatting that carries over from Word when I paste it into the Word Press post box. I’ve tried a few times to write my blogs in the blog post box, but somehow end up clicking something I’m not supposed to and deleting what I’ve written. Does anyone have a better method?
First off, I didn’t really care for the Carliner article this week. There wasn’t anything wrong with it. I’m just getting a little tired of reading about the history of technical communication. Carliner took a little different approach with his article though, focusing the technology and how that technology shaped the field. I guess that was pretty interesting. Also, it was interesting to see how the technical communicator’s job changed as the technology changed. Now, our jobs are changing again. Web 2.0 technologies have made everyone an expert. Anyone can create content. At first, it seems as though technical communicators are being replaced with an endless supply of free labor that create content just because they like to. However, that is not the case. Technical communicators only need to adapt. We become content strategists, Communication Specialist, Social Media Curators, and so on.
I also found it interesting that the early word processing and desktop publishing tools required the use of tags, much like HTML. Eventually those complex systems became simpler WYSIWYGs. The same thing happened to web development tools. Early on, when creating website, you had to write the whole thing in HTML. But as tools advanced, you could build a website with drag-and-drop tools and WYSIWYGs. However, none of these tools work quite right for the web designer who cares about his/her code. Most drag-and-drop tools leave the code on the backend messy, which isn’t good. Messy code slows down load time. Also, messy code usually means the website will not pass accessible standards because screen readers have trouble reading the code.
I just thought I’d mention that above paragraph as an example of technology that makes technical communication easier, but isn’t quite there yet.
The description of how technology changed jobs and job titles of technical communicators made my heart to leap a bit before I finished the chapter. I had already been having a feeling my professional interests are taken away. After reading thoroughly I understood the shakeup technical communicators went through in the early seventies. This week’s essay made me fully understand why McKenzie described technological advances as a ‘revolution’ she furthermore believes that change requires fine balance (McLunann,25). The style and methods used in Spilka’s essay all the transitions made by professional communicators as Spilka well lay them out the timeline played a vital role.
Timeline 1970s to-date summarizes the occurrences especially the responsibilities of technical communicators. Upon reading the week’s reading it dawned to me that technical communicators played a very important role. The primary job for technical communicators was to document the functions and features of the systems in order to accomplish a true reflection of their role in the production of technical content. When reading I confirmed the following to be primary task for a technical writer:
- On-the-job mentoring
- Editing product specifications
- Technical writers had earlier had assistance from typing pool.
1980’s Change was inevitable: Customers increased and this changed the nature of technical communication.
It is amazing to learn that the contributing factor that the work of a technical communicator was affected by the change in markets for computers and the rise of word processing and desktop publishing.
Shifting of technical communicator’s responsibilities with new job title as information developer who also tried to influence the design of the systems to minimize barriers. I just thought this was a nice move and I appreciate that the product and technical expertise continued to be highly valued.
What I learned:
- I learned that the work of information developers was affected by the rise of word processing and automated publishing affected the way information developers prepared content.
- Late 1990’s shifting from mainframe computers to PCs was complete. Merging of the internet as primary means of communicating online
- Change of the job of the technical communicator as they worked at client sites to document installations and customized applications.
- Two categories of assignments were designers of screens, prompts, and forms with which users interacted in the application software.
The significant shift in printing came with a significant change in typing which I appreciate the idea of reduction of number of errors that comes with spell check this is the reason I believe the spell check feature was the best discovery in the writing realms.
I also discovered that more information this week about the desktop revolution that it brought ease of computer literacy. One of the remarkable part of this revolution was the word processing applications that handled the entry revision, simple formatting, and printing of documents. Technical communicators benefited from grade-level checkers.
As other standards emerged for user interfaces was an advantage because users could transfer some skills from a familiar application to a new one.
As the revolution proceeded the third phase in the development of technology for technical communication the was move to Graphical User Interfaces. Graphical interface offered advantages:
- Frame maker became the dominant desktop publishing product in the field of technical communication
- Desktop publishing programs produced plates this reduced printing costs.Check this out http://frame-makers.com/
The year 2000
Email became one of the primary means of interpersonal communication and a lot more like exchanging files through email made easy-to-use file transfer mechanisms.
Considering the central role played by technology in technical communication it is undisputed that technology has been also a tool that facilitated the work in a life of a technical communicator. It gives pride to technical communicators to know that they have been their own designers, illustrator, and production assistants and their own editors. Multitasking has played a role in technical communication. Overall the word revolution is the best description.
The Spilka reading covered a lot of ground. The forward and intro were good to put everything into context.
It’s true that the digital revolution has changed everything. After having done the digital narrative about myself, this was another way for me to see how I grew up in tandem with technology. Everything that was mentioned is stuff I worked with, dabbled in, or was away from by one degree of separation. My husband has been a computer guy since I met him, so even if I didn’t work with programs myself, I learned from him what they were and how they worked.
I was just a kid during Phase 1, was in junior high and high school during the Desktop Revolution of Phase 2, was in college and in my first jobs during Phase 3 and was working in advertising during Phase 4. How exciting to be on a parallel track with the technology that has changed the world so much.
In a lot of ways, this article has bummed me out. I am on the wrong end of the seemingly two-pronged path of technical communication. I’m on the creative side that’s being farmed out or shipped overseas. I feel that the creative skills are not valued as much as those of the technical/programmer/software engineer. In some ways even I feel like they have the “money” skills, but I think writing has to be valued differently. To communicate effectively, you need to be able to write clearly. If you want to convey meaning or persuade, you need to have a much more subtle grasp of the English language. Just like some people have talent to program script, some people can see shades of meaning within words that can make the difference between a good piece of copy and a great one.
It makes me worry about the career path that I’ve chosen. If it is of so little value, what can be done to change the field enough to be relevant again? One of the paragraphs that stuck out the most for in the introduction is the section where Spilka asks,
“How many of us fully understand all new types of technology that have sprung up in recent years?…Do the changes mean that we need to abandon skills that we have worked so hard to acquire and to set aside strategies that have worked for us in the past, but that have become outmoded? Has the time arrived that we now need to work especially hard to acquire new skills and to develop and try out new strategies?” (Spilka, p.9)
As the meme says: “Wat do?” http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/wat-do