Along the Cow Path: Technical Communication Within a Jewish Cemetery

by Alexander Slotkin
Technical communication and user experience studies traditionally uphold Western onto-epistemological distinctions between technical users and objects. Recent calls for the inclusion of cultural approaches to technical communication, however, have asked scholars to consider the influence cultural knowledge has on communication design. This article takes up these calls by reading technical documentation through new materialist and Indigenous ways of knowing. Using a prominent Jewish cemetery in Gainesville, Florida as a case study, this article treats technical artifacts and subjects as co-constitutive, arguing for the cultural and material agency of technical documentation design in mediating and shaping user experience.

Implementing a transactional design model to ensure the mindful development of public-facing science communication projects

by Claire Lauer.
This paper introduces the concept of transactional design—integrating Druschke’s “transactional” model of rhetoric and science and Kinsella’s model of “public expertise”—to demonstrate how technical communication and user experience (UX) designers and researchers can play an essential role in helping scientists cultivate meaningful relationships with members of the public toward the goal of making scientific content more accessible and actionable. This paper reports on the challenges that arose when a water modeling system built for experts was adapted for a public museum audience. It discusses specific issues the UX team had in contending with outdated “deficit” and “conduit” models of communication when working with scientists to adapt the system; it provides a checklist for steps that technical communication and UX designers and researchers—as those who best understand audiences and work directly with users—can champion the idea of transactional design to setup knowledge-making partnerships toward the co-construction of public-facing scientific communication projects.

Official Statement from SIGDOC: A Response to Injustice

Official Statement from SIGDOC: A Response to Injustice
SIGDOC stands in solidarity with Black members of SIGDOC and the larger Black community across the United States and around the globe in the ongoing fight for justice for the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Tony McDade, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and far too many others. State-sanctioned anti-Black violence is the manifestation of systemic White supremacy in all its forms in the United States and across the globe. Black lives matter.

Prototyping and Public Art: Design and Field Studies in Locative Media

by Brett Oppegaard
This experience report shares lessons learned from a multi-staged prototyping process, over a five-year period, that involved the creation and iterative development of a mobile platform and dozens of prototype examples of interactive locative-media artifacts, including locative journalism. Thematically linked to a public art collection, the mobile app was designed as a research instrument aimed at an external audience of passersby, actively using smartphones. This paper documents and outlines key decisions made about the platform and content in response to observed experiences. It also identifies emergent areas of research potential intertwined in the undertaking of such a prototyping process.

Using Bayesian Induction Methods in Risk Assessment and Communication

by J.D. Applen
Bayes’s theorem allows us to use subjective thinking to find numerical values to formulate assessments of risk. It is more than a mathematical formula; it can be thought of as an iterative process that challenges us to imagine the potential for “unknown, unknowns.” The heuristics involved in this process can be enhanced if they take into consideration some of the established risk assessment and communication models used today in technical communication that are concerned with the social construction of meaning and the kairos involved in rhetorical situations. Understanding the connection between Bayesian analysis and risk communication will allow us to better convey the potential for risk that is based on probabilistic assumptions.

CDQ Issue 8-1 is now live!

We are happy to announce the latest issue of Communication Design Quarterly (Volume 8 Issue 1) is now live. Featuring work by Daniel P. Richards, Derek G. Ross, Sonia H. Stephens, Jennifer Roth Miller, Brandy Dieterle, Jennifer deWinter, Stephanie Vie, Ryan Cheek, and Ella Browning.

Social Media in Professional, Technical, and Scientific Communication Programs: A Heuristic to Guide Future Use

by Jennifer Roth Miller, Brandy Dieterle, Jennifer deWinter, and Stephanie Vie
This article reports on the results of a research study supported by a CPTSC research grant that analyzed programmatic use of social media in professional, technical, and scientific communication programs (TPCs). This mixed-methods study included a survey of TPC program administrators (n = 29), an inventory of TPCs’ social media account use (n = 70), and an inventory of TPCs’ course offerings that included social media (n = 27). Results showed that programmatic use of social media requires strategic consideration, particularly in order to generate two-way communication, a goal of many of the TPCs studied. To that end, our article generates questions and guiding suggestions (drawn from our three-part study) to guide administrators who wish to include social media in their TPC.