Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why bother as a technical author?

While reading the WIDE collective’s reasons as to why we should teach digital writing, I really couldn’t find anything I disagreed with! In this day in age it is so vital to teach digital writing because it is becoming more and more relevant in our world everyday. I think these guys nailed it when giving the reasons why. There were two major reasons that stood out in my opinion:

1. Students need a full set of technical choices. Digital writing (like Yancey agrees) is more networking than any other kind of writing. It is all about the writer and their audience. By giving them different ways to outreach to their audience and get their points across, you will in turn create better writers. Not everyone is a good writer in the same way, some are better for example at writing journal articles, while others may be better at getting their point across in a quick and simple tweet.

2. Teachers need to be on students level in order to become effective mentors. If a teacher is not up to date on technology and it’s advances in writing, then they can not properly teach this type of writing. My teachers in high school were required actually to attend a conference once a year in order to learn the new advancements in classroom technology and ways to go about fostering it in their own rooms. I believe that by having teachers who were very up to date on technology and how it can affect our writings (many papers and projects were approached in this light) it left me to be a better writer and find my style more so than a generic paper and pen setting.

 

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Motivation by Murray

One major issue with Murray’s ideas is that most high school students are completely unmotivated when it comes to writing. If you don’t give kids that age proper guidelines on an assignment, 9 out of 10 ( from my personal experience in high school and working with kids this age group since starting college) are not going to bother doing it. With so many other course loads on their educational plates, if you as the teacher let your piece of the meal be so open to free will inspired, it will be hard for students to want to focus on it. It is much easier to do an assignment when you have general instructions of what the teacher is looking for, versus having to decipher what they want and hopefully figure it out correctly. I am not condoning this behavior by teenagers at this education level, I am just simple pointing out this is a normal reaction to a lack of guidelines.

Barney sums up teenagers in school pretty well:

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Motivation by Murray

One major issue with Murray’s ideas is that most high school students are completely unmotivated when it comes to writing. If you don’t give kids that age proper guidelines on an assignment, 9 out of 10 ( from my personal experience in high school and working with kids this age group since starting college) are not going to bother doing it. With so many other course loads on their educational plates, if you as the teacher let your piece of the meal be so open to free will inspired, it will be hard for students to want to focus on it. It is much easier to do an assignment when you have general instructions of what the teacher is looking for, versus having to decipher what they want and hopefully figure it out correctly. I am not condoning this behavior by teenagers at this education level, I am just simple pointing out this is a normal reaction to a lack of guidelines.

Barney sums up teenagers in school pretty well:

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Yielding Yancey

A quote that sticks out for me in Yancey’s writing is “Through writing, we are.” I would agree that writing outside of school is extremely important and necessary in order to function as a proper member of society. It would be very difficult to live your life avoiding writing anything. Even if it is writing an angry letter on a subject you are passionate about to your local congressman/woman or penning a note as to why your child is absent for school today, writing is important and a part of our everyday lives whether we like to acknowledge it or not.

One of the major points Yancey makes is that since writing is so interwoven in us being a functioning society, we need to constantly keep up in the changing game of it. In one of her bullets on page 7 she discusses how composing digitally is much more public composure than writing a letter alone in the privacy of your bedroom. This changes our model of composing because we become more aware of the fact that our digital writing will always be accessible to an audience. A good example of this is a post one could write on their Facebook page. Even if you are marked as private or are writing directly to a certain friends page, many different audiences from future employers to the NSA (dramatic but true) can have possible future or current access to that writing. If anything we become more aware of the possibility of an audience who can hold our writing against us. This may in fact turn us on to become more politically or socially aware writers who are more sensitized to who our writing can be read by.

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Deplorable Documentation

It’s interesting that the author of this article starts off by claiming this document by formal criteria standards is a perfect example of technical communication document. Not many documents from this awful time in history are considered well written in the moral or ethical sense, but many of them can be considered well written in the formal sense of composition and structure.

When first starting this document I was reminded of a short film my senior class viewed on our Holocaust history day. We visited a synagogue and watched a sad silent short reel. It showed a Jewish grade school teacher and his young Jewish class. They were out at recess when a ambulance pulled up driven by Nazi officers. They ordered everyone in the back of the van. They then took a rubber hose and fit it from the exhaust pipe into the back of the closed off van where the children and his class were held. It was understood by the viewers that this was a mobilized chamber used to murder Jewish victims. This in my mind is exactly what “Just” the author of the document, was talking about when requesting updates on Nazi vans. The main feelings that come to me when reading the van is sadness and surprise. I am obviously sad that so many people met their fates in such deplorable ways. I am also surprised that not only humans would do this to other humans so willingly (as if enjoying it) but also how creative the means they go to are. One would not normally think a van to be a certain death trap as the Nazi’s have created them to be.

While I agree with Katz that the document’s morals and ethics are deplorable and completely wrong, I also agree that the document in question is very well written. I do not believe I would call it perfect based on the fact that technical communication is concerned about the good ethics and morals of a document, which this one obviously lacks, but it is prefect in the formal sense. Like Katz, I agree that the writer “Just” goes about writing this rhetorically in a near perfect fashion. He not only writes clearly and efficiently but also very formal rhetoric.

While the author of the document does write well and with a purpose, he is severely lacking in Ethos in his document. In a almost brilliantly yet disgustingly way, this is done on purpose to this and many other Nazi documents. By using such technical terms and non-specific nouns, they are not clearly spelling out the crimes they are committing. If one were to come across this document without any knowledge of it’s context, it would be very difficult to tell that they were talking about murdering people.