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.
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.
by Sonia H. Stephens and Daniel P. Richards
While interactive maps are important tools for risk communication, most maps omit the lived experiences and personal stories of the community members who are most at risk. We describe a project to develop an interactive tool that juxtaposes coastal residents’ video- recorded stories about sea level rise and coastal flooding with an interactive map that shows future sea level rise projections. We outline project development including digital platform selection, project design, participant recruitment, and narrative framing, and tie our design decisions to rhetorical and ethical considerations of interest for others developing interactive tools with community participation.
by Nupoor Ranade and Jason Swarts
Professional writers adapt their skills to suit expanded professional roles that involve production and management of information, but preparation through mere skill-based training is problematic because that communication work is messy in ways that are not addressable through simple skills training. We must understand how skills “influence and shape the discursive activities surrounding their use” (Selber, 1994). This paper reports the results of a study of people trained in humanities disciplines like communication, English, writing studies, technical communication, etc., on how they have found means to employ their training in their workplace and keep what is humanistic about writing and communicating at the foreground of their interactions with information technologies. Instead of focusing on technology alone, this research encourages a unified approach to preparing students for the workplace.
by Sean Williams, Clay Spinuzzi, and Curtis Newbold
This study examined how three successful entrepreneurs/investors assessed the visual rhetoric of actual pitch decks from novice entrepreneurs. We compare their evaluations to the result of a heuristic for assessing visual rhetoric, Color CRAYONTIP. While the pitch deck is recognized as a key artifact in entrepreneurship, no studies have specifically addressed the visual design of the deck nor the key design skills novice entrepreneurs should implement to effectively persuade potential investors of the idea’s promise. This preliminary and exploratory case study begins a dialogue on this topic by performing a visual analysis of seven novice decks which were deemed successful by experienced angel investors. The analysis revealed five key skills that appear to account for the success of these decks with the reviewers: rhetorical awareness, typography, color, photography, and contrast.
This study examines a document produced by the United States Department of Homeland Security handed out to immigrant parents during the “Family Separation Policy” crisis of 2018. The article examines whether such a document could be ethically tested for usability. Ultimately, the text argues that by the standards of the Belmont Report and the best practices in usability research, such a document would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to test ethically. It argues that, while usability testing is an excellent tool for exploring how users interact with texts that can have life- changing consequences, it may also be used as a tool to perpetuate injustice and marginalize potential users.
by Richard Colby and Rebekah Shultz Colby
Changes in technology, development philosophy, and scale have required game designers to change how they communicate and mediate design decisions. Traditional game design studios used an extensive game design document (GDD), a meta-genre that described most of the game before it was developed. Current studies suggest that this is no longer the case. We conducted interviews at four independent game studios in order to share their game design documentation processes, revealing that, while an exhaustive GDD is rare, the meta-genre functions are preserved in a variety of mediated ways.
by Avery C. Edenfield
For decades, sexual violence prevention and sexual consent have been a recurrent topic on college campuses and in popular media, most recently because of the success of the #MeToo movement. As a result, institutions are deeply invested in communicating consent information. This article problematizes those institutional attempts to teach consent by comparing them to an alternative grounded in queer politics. This alternative information may provide a useful path to redesigning consent information by destabilizing categories of gender, sexuality, and even consent itself.
by Michael Meng, Stephanie Steinhardt, and Andreas Schubert
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) play a crucial role in modern software engineering. However, learning to use a new API often is a challenge for developers. In order to support the learning process effectively, we need to understand how developers use documentation when starting to work with a new API. We report an exploratory study that observed developers while they solved programming tasks involving a simple API. The results reveal differences regarding developer activities and documentation usage that a successful design strategy for API documentation needs to accommodate. Several guidelines to optimize API documentation are discussed.
by Michael Albers
East Carolina University
Michael Albers is a professor at East Carolina University, where he teaches in the professional writing program. In 1999, he completed his PhD in technical communication and rhetoric from Texas Tech University. Before coming to ECU, he taught for 8 years at the University of Memphis. He is a Senior Member of ACM. In addition to his work on CDQ, he was SIGDOC Secretary from 1999 – 2005 and the 2013 SIGDOC Conference Chair. He also chaired the Symposium on Communicating Complex Information from 2012 – 2018. Before earning his PhD, he worked for 10 years as a technical communicator, writing software documentation and performing interface design. His research interests include designing documentation on the communication of complex information.