Session Descriptions

Women in Technical Communication Featured Speaker — Saturday, 9/27, 8:00 AM – 8:50 AM

Annette Vee

The dream of coding for everyone and the legacy of mass literacy campaigns, Made with Code, Yes We Code, Black Girls Code and countless other initiatives are aiming to introduce coding to women and minorities, populations historically underrepresented in the technology sector. These programs contend that “everyone should learn to code,” and they justify their claims by drawing parallels to the ubiquity and utility of reading and writing. This is no recent phenomenon. Since the 1960s, computer enthusiasts have employed the concept of “literacy” to underscore the importance, flexibility, and power of writing for and with computers. What does it mean for both coding and literacy to be linked together in this popular discourse? In this talk, I trace short histories of mass programming and mass literacy campaigns to highlight the similarities in their driving ideologies over time. While the ideology behind many contemporary coding campaigns echoes Silicon Valley values, I argue that reaching back to the more lofty goals of earlier literacy campaigns—literacy for citizenship, intellectual development, and as a moral good—may help to further the goal of coding for everyone.

Session 1: Conference Keynote — Saturday, 9/27, 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM

Patricia Sullivan, 2014 Rigo Award Winner

Session 2.1: Delivering Technical Information Across Diverse Contexts & Networks — Saturday, 9/27, 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM

Social Justice in Technologies of Prenatal Care: Toward a User Centered Approach to Technical Communication in Home Pregnancy Testing

This article explores the question increasingly posed by technical communications scholars: “What practices can technical communicators engage in to promote social justice in the contexts of health and medical communication?”. In the specific instance of home pregnancy test packaging and instructions, the lack of attention to social justice concerns is evidenced when comparing this system-centered technical communication to user-centered online health forums wherein users discuss their lived experiences with the tests, expressing frustration to outright fear. Here, a case study of three brands of home pregnancy tests’ packaging offers findings that the technical communication of home pregnancy tests violates an ethic of care to the user. This article proposes that the health and medical communication be brought into alignment with the user-centered, participatory models of online health forums in order to promote social justice in the context of the home pregnancy test.

Dawn Opel


Women, Religion, and Professional Communication: Communication Design for the Female Relief Society, 1842–1920

My archival research internship experience with a women’s discourses project suggests that professional documentation is a vital part of building and maintaining organizations. The historical sources I examined from a religious institution’s women’s organization displayed a variety of professional communication genres, all of them working to make the larger organization successful and functional. Organizational communication worked to simultaneously promote women’s industrial independence while tying women to the larger organization by promoting identities for participating women. These forms of communication ultimately united and disciplined the women of the organization, allowing them to share religious best practices, domestic techniques, and community values with one another. There is much work to be done on the history of professional communication in archives, including how it has been used to design religious organizations.

Emily Petersen


An Analysis of Twitter Conversations at Academic Conferences

Academic conference organizers encourage tweeting during conference presentations to promote access and engagement. In this paper, I provide a methodological framework for analyzing Twitter conversations during academic conferences. An analysis of tweets archived during the 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication is included as an example. Tweets using the #4C14 hashtag (N=13,175) were analyzed to determine 1) when people tweet the most during academic conferences, 2) what sessions they tweet about most during academic conferences, and 3) what people tweet about at conferences during times of high Twitter activity. Results suggest conference attendees tweet most frequently during the middle of each day during the conference, presentations related to technology yield high Twitter activity, and retweeting particular sessions extended presentations far beyond the designated time blocks of each conference panel. These results provide valuable information for conference organizers and experience architects interested in promoting participatory digital spaces during academic conferences.

Laura Gonzales

Session 2.2: Research Posters I — Saturday, 9/27, 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM

Stories from the Workplace: Using Mini-modules Online to Increase Student Motivation and Learning

In this poster presentation, we describe the incorporation of video modules into three professional communication classrooms. These modules were designed to give students access to professional practitioners and their views about the changing role of communication in the 21st century workplace. We incorporated these modules into both professional communication courses (junior/senior level technical communication course) and courses in the disciplines (freshman and senior engineering design courses). The poster presentation discusses the design and integration of the modules and how the inclusions of these mini-modules has the potential to affect student perceptions, motivation and learning about key principles in professional communication.

Jonathan Balzotti & Janet Roberts


Rhetorical Functions of Hashtag Forms Across Social Media Applications

This study analyzes the complex rhetorical practice of hashtag use across social media platforms and emphasizes the implications for UX designers and technical communicators working with social media. Specifically, we document and analyze the ways that users extend the function of hashtagging beyond findability toward meta-communication, effectively co-designing the hashtagging feature and helping social media designers develop new possibilities for hashtags as communicative tools. Qualitatively-collected data from five popular social media applications (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest) are used to investigate how users implement hashtags in different contexts in order to achieve particular rhetorical purposes. Using a grounded approach, we identify 5 primary categories of “metacommunicative” hashtags and suggest how experience architects might incorporate them into future social media designs.

Alice Daer, Rebecca Hoffman, & Seth Goodman


Doing UX: A Workflow for Teaching and Training

In this interactive poster, I describe the ways, things, and points of impact involved with teaching and training UX experts. Specifically, I present methods for introducing professionals from any background to key UX knowledge-making practices (ways); deliverables and concepts that professionals new to UX should be able to create (things); and means of sustaining this work within organizations (impact). This workflow has been developed through my own work teaching classes in UX within higher education, and through collaboration with UX training programs in industry.

Guiseppe Getto


Evidence of Things Not Seen: Mapping Sentiment Across Time in Unstructured Texts about the Herbicide Agent

Increasingly, technical communicators have investigated ways to collect and analyze the tone or sentiment of digital content including blog posts, tweets, Facebook status updates and news. Sentiment analysis has many applications for the technical communicator, among them flame detection, new product or brand perception, influence analysis, and resource management. Measuring the shifts in attitudes, beliefs, and feelings among key stakeholder groups holds great promise for technical communicators and rhetoricians who seek to measure not just volume, but the valiance of messages. Even so, automating sentiment analysis is fraught with difficulties and subjective choices that can call into question the statistical validity of one’s findings. This poster reports data findings of a sentiment analysis conducted on a corpus of 1200 unstructured, digitized texts on the topic of the herbicide Agent Orange.

Sarah Beth Hopton


Architect, Developer, Designer: The Anatomy of UX in Industry Job Postings

User Experience is a quickly evolving, interdisciplinary field that combines psychology, communication, social science, design, technology, and other specialized knowledge areas in an attempt to better understand the way users interact with information products and how practitioners can better design such products. However, User Experience/Information Architect jobs commonly ask for applicants whose degrees are in technical disciplines, such as computer science, rather than technical communication. The field isn’t always aware of the unique qualifications that non-computer science majors can bring to these often technology-intensive jobs. This poster will present the results of an investigation of over 1000 “user experience” job ads, collected in the fall of 2013, to identify the job titles, educational and experience requirements, technological competencies, and soft qualifications sought of user experience/information architect jobs. The data can help us better understand the anatomy of this emerging field and, in turn, articulate the value–added of graduates from technical communication and related programs.

Claire Lauer & Eva Brumberger

Session 3.1: Brokering Communication Design–from Stakeholders to Users & Back Again — Saturday, 9/27, 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Brokering ISUComm Sites: Toward the Creation of a Large-Scale ePortfolio Platform for Multimodal Composition

This report outlines the authors’ experiences developing a pilot of ISUComm Sites, an electronic portfolio platform currently in development for ISUComm foundation courses at Iowa State University. Since 2007, ISUComm has sought to better teach the electronic mode of communication to our students through such a platform, but for some time the project had stalled. This changed in the spring of 2014, when the authors of this article developed and piloted a WordPress installation created both for and by teachers of ISUComm courses. This platform affords students the capability to build online portfolios that showcase their developing identities as scholars and professionals. But to be successful, our project needed brokers, or graduate students who use their experience as system developers and teachers to negotiate between stakeholders and users at all levels of implementation and development.

Bryan Lutz, Rebecca O’Connell, & Eric York


Session 3.2: Three Perspectives on Communication Design Contexts & Ontologies

Business process modeling: Vocabulary problem and requirements specification?

Process models are composed of graphical elements and words. However, words used to name elements during process design have potentially ambiguous meanings, which might result in quality problems. We believe that ontologies might serve as a means to address this problem. This paper discusses aspects related to words used to represent concepts in labels and why ontologies can improve this representation. Also, we analyze how the requirements specifications can influence the terms used during modeling. The discussion regarding ontologies is conceptual. We performed an experiment to analyze empirically the vocabulary problem in the context of process models. In the experiment the selection of terms represented with different levels of explicitness in requirements specifications was evaluated. Our findings suggest that the vocabulary problem occurs in process models. Also, different levels of explicitness of terms in specifications affect labels written by people but are not sufficient to solve the vocabulary problem.

Jonas Gassen, Jan Mendling, Lucinéia Thom,& José Oliverira.


All of the Things: Engaging Complex Assemblages in Communication Design

In this paper, we compare sociocultural theories of communication and user experience design to scholarship from associative approaches, new materialisms, and object-oriented ontologies. We argue for a more expansive and symmetrical perspective on communication design—one that broadens the scope of potential actors that affect user experiences, and their effects on communicative activities. We posit three ways in which this perspective may be operationalized: (a) accounting for the missing masses, (b) designing for flat ontologies and radical symmetry, and (c) designing for interagentivity. Finally, we offer an initial heuristic for deploying such approaches and discuss scenarios in which they may prove fruitful.

Bria McNely & Nathaniel Rivers


Translating Art Installation into ICT: Lessons Learned from an Experience at Workspace

Interactive digital art can create innovative ways to stimulate and engage audience, what could benefit the space where the installation is done. Aiming at promoting the adoption of non-used places through pleasant experiences, we considered an art project that promotes people engagement to make them become the community’s wishes expression. We focus on understanding the process to translate the essence of an artistic expression using Information and Communications Technology (ICT). We translated this artistic expression into digital art installation within a socially ‘abandoned’ space at a workplace. The biggest challenge is to understand how people interact with the dynamic art-system, that, potentially, it leads audience to experience a highly intimate relationship with the installation and the space. Preliminary results reveal a similar behavior in the audience at both installations, which highlights the potential of ICT to translate the essence of an artistic expression and promote the adoption of a space.

Vinicius Ferreira, Junia Anacleto, & Andre Bueno


Session 4: Ignite Talks — Saturday, 9/27, 3:15 PM – 4:45 PM

Yes, We’re Going to Talk about Candy Crush: Surveillance, Social Games, and Screen Segmentation,

Social and mobile gaming has increased rapidly in the past few years, with over two billion social and mobile gamers globally. The number of paying consumers is also growing exponentially, with cross-screen monetization in games driving revenue to over $21 billion USD per year. Alongside this explosive growth in social, mobile gameplay, user-experience (UX) tracking grows ever more sophisticated in its surveillance of players. Rather than dismiss these games as shallow, this talk will describe why we need to begin paying attention to the design, marketing, and perpetual beta state of social games.

Stephanie Vie


The Dynamic Materialities of Programming Practices

Programmers design and write communication environments for diverse audiences, but their practices also produce discourses and cultures influencing their design decisions. How can researchers better understand the negotiated space between programming practices and user experiences? This talk makes the case for the methodological value of the material as a unit of analysis to investigate in situ programming practices.

Chris Lindgren


What Does Topic-based Authoring Bring for Global Technical Communication?

As the adoption of topic-based approaches to developing, managing, and publishing content is gaining a critical mass in technical communication work groups, what are the implications of these approaches for designing information products for users around the globe? Based on the results of a survey of technical communication practitioners, this talk will examine the advantages and downsides of topic-based authoring for multilingual quality and their rhetorical and business implications.

Tatiana Batova


What Do People Do All Day…At a Supercomputing Center?

Walking through a supercomputing center is a surreal experience. On the one hand there is a warehouse containing one of the world’s fastest supercomputers; on the other hand there are people stacked around this warehouse in offices talking and typing and producing documents. Both exist because of the other, but what are the strands that connect them? How does symbolic-analytic work (knowledge work) become and sustain a supercomputing machine? How does a supercomputing machine justify its existence to management? These questions motivate a new research project to  trace the threads of these translations in pursuit of an answer to how we use signs to build things.

Sarah Read

Designing a Parsable World: Physical, Linguistic, and Procedural Infrastructures

What happens if we make more of our processes, work, lives and selves parsable, or readable and digestible by computers? By drawing analogies between a potential future infrastructure based on computer-friendly procedures and established physical and linguistic infrastructures like roadways and alphabets, this talk suggests that there are scale and distribution advantages to rendering our world more parsable.

Annette Vee



Dave Jones



Kathie Gossett


Session 5: Featured Speaker — Sunday, 9/28, 9:00 AM – 9:50 AM

Social norms influence student journalists’ perception of wearable technologies

In this presentation, the author presents results of a study about student journalist perceptions of the wearable technology Google Glass. She presents the first set of results of an ongoing research project designed to determine what factors play the largest roles in student decision making processes about whether or not to use a new technology. Survey results of students in a semester-long capstone journalism course are presented. Results indicate that students’ perceptions of social norms related to the new technology shaped early use of the wearable device. After becoming more familiar with Glass and using the device in training sessions, student social norm apprehensions did not decrease.

Jennifer Ware


Session 6.1: Understanding & Designing Effective Distributed Communication— Sunday, 9/28, 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Unifying the Shift and Constrain Strategies in Focus+Context Exploratory Search

In this paper we discuss two existing exploration strategies – Shift and Constrain – employed by Focus+Context techniques, and how they are supported in the user interface of Saffron, a web-based system enabling exploration of academic topics, authors, and publications. The Shift strategy enables the user to shift focus between different resources while the Constrain strategy enables the user to constrain the focus. Current systems typically support only one of these approaches or include them as separate interaction modes. Saffron supports both strategies in a unified user interface. An initial user study indicates that participants use and appreciate both strategies being supported simultaneously.

Krystian Samp, Cedric Beuzit, & Jodi Schneider


An Exploratory Look at Online Instruction Delivery Across Electronic Devices

We present the results from a usability pilot study to determine if students will perform better accessing and synthesizing course materials between laptops and mobile devices, and also to determine whether or not the students’ satisfaction will be higher on mobile devices than laptops. From the results of the study, we highlight some potential gaps in online instruction delivery across devices.

Jack Labriola, Michael McCarthy, & Chinwe Obi


Session 6.2: Research Posters II

Institutional Review Boards: Human Subjects and Their Texts

This interactive poster serves to showcase the evolving roles Institutional Review Boards (IRB) have in research on texts, both physical and digital. Overtime, the awareness of and adherence to IRB has grown in technical and professional communication research and scholarship. Part of this growth can be attributed to need (research is more and more being conducted in laces such as hospitals, where privacy is vital). However, recent cases, such as the PANS article regarding Facebook and emotion manipulation, indicate that the user experience of certain products call traditional IRB policies in to question. In particular, questions about text production, dissemination, and subsequent research on texts indicate that IRB policies have not evolved to meet the demands of present research culture. Moreover, this poster suggests that the narratives and extensions of IRBs preclude and exclude serious consideration of texts by their very design and representation to researchers. This poster examines how IRBs communicate policies to a technical and professional communication researcher, and, in light of new research methodologies, researchers can develop extensions to IRB protocol internal to the field. Ultimately, this poster aims to ensure ethical treatment of human subjects particularly as participants, and as authors of texts, used in research.

Johanna Phelps-Hillen


Capturing the Ephemeral: Using Digital Tools to Record Sites of Participatory Memory

Due to their ever-changing status, sites of public memory are difficult to capture and archive. This poster brief focuses on determining methods for successfully recording the changes in these spaces using various digital platforms. By exploring and testing these platforms, we hope to discover which space offers the best way to discuss and record a site. The findings of this research will offer insight on how best to capture and discuss spaces that undergo frequent change.

Liza Potts & Christine Scales


Porn Architecture: User Tagging and Filtering in Two Online Pornography Communities

This poster brief describes ongoing research on user taxonomies in free internet pornography, examining tagging and filtering systems in two digital porn bulletin boards on the social network Reddit. These two communities—r/PornVids, a board for mainstream porn, and r/ChickFlixxx, a board for woman-friendly or feminist porn—offer unique insight into not only porn consumption patterns, but also ways of sorting pornography according to distinctly gendered preferences. The researcher concludes by describing future directions for empirical inquiry into internet pornography, making a case for the importance of affective considerations in user research and interface design.

Allegra Smith


Applying the Cognitive Dimensions of API Usability to Improve API Documentation Planning

This interactive poster explores the application of the 12 cognitive dimensions of API usability [1] to API documentation planning by using the dimensions to identify and characterize the factors that influence the documentation that an API requires. The many factors to consider make it difficult to estimate the documentation an API requires and even when the documentation requirements can be estimated, it can be difficult to present to stakeholders an objective basis for the estimate. The cognitive dimensions of API usability have been used to characterize an API and its users and to communicate these characteristics to stakeholders. It follows that the same dimensions could also help identify the documentation required to provide the software developers who use the API with a satisfactory and successful experience.

Bob Watson

Session 7.1: Modeling Contemporary Communication Design — Sunday 10:00 AM -11:15 AM

Identifying how U.S. nonprofit organizations operate within the Information Process Maturity Model

In this paper, the researcher investigates grant writers’ perspectives on knowledge management practices within nonprofit organizations. The researcher uses survey data (n = 448) to assess how organizations operate within JoAnn Hackos’s Information Process Maturity Model (IPMM) [1]. The paper asks, how do proposal writers perceive current documentation efforts within their organizations? Is there a relationship between an organization’s annual operating budget and employees’ satisfaction with documentation efforts? Results indicate that most nonprofit organizations fall within the Ad hoc and/or Rudimentary stage of the IPMM. However, this classification may be due to grant writers’ preferences to create individual rather than organizational documentation systems. Organizational documentation practices have both short- and long-term economic implications for the nonprofit industry, particularly fundraising, where employee turnover is a problem.

Sarah Gunning


A Mobile Banking Model in the Cloud for Financial Inclusion in India

This paper discusses the role of financial inclusion in a country like India and mobile banking as a means to attain it. The paper discusses the increasing penetration of mobile phones and the key considerations of use of mobile banking. The paper proposes an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) based mobile banking model in the cloud suitable for a developing country like India. The World Development Indicators show increasing penetration of mobile phones in both the developed and the developing world. This model can perform the basic formal banking operations with less dependence on external agents or business correspondents. The model assumes the availability of internet facility in the mobile phones. IVR based models in the cloud are very rare. Most of the existing models use mobile Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Amitava Ghosh, Sourya Joyee De, & Ambuj Mahanti


Session 7.2: Genre Research in Contemporary Communication Design

Characterizing Web-Based Tutorials: Exploring Quality, Community, and Showcasing Strategies

End-user authored tutorials are increasingly becoming the norm for assisting users with learning software applications, but little is known about the quality of these tutorials. Using quality metrics derived from previous work, we characterize a sample of Photoshop tutorials, a popular image-manipulation program with one of the largest showings of web-based tutorials. We also explore how these characteristics differ across four tutorial sources, representing those that are, i) written by a close-knit online community; ii) written by expert users; iii) most likely to be found; and iv) representative of the general population of tutorials. Our analysis reveals that expert users generally write higher quality tutorials, and that many of the tutorials in our sample suffer from some important limitations, such as lacking attempts to help users avoid common errors. We also find that a single five-star rating system did not sufficiently distinguish quality between the tutorials. Building on this later finding, we propose and evaluate a rating approach based on multiple criteria, finding strong initial support for such an approach.

Matthew Lount & Andrea Bunt


Genre cycling: The infrastructural function of an operational assessment review and reporting process at a federal scientific research supercomputing user facility

This paper proposes a new conceptualization of how multiple genres interrelate to coordinate and mediate the functioning of an organization. Based on the case of the operational assessment review process at a federally-funded scientific supercomputing facility, this paper strives to differentiate the function of organizational genres to maintain the infrastructural operations of an organization from the function of genres to mediate the production of an organization’s mission-based output.

Sarah Read & Michael Papka

Session 8: Big Data & the Design of Communication Workshop (Free)

Facilitators: Brent Faber & Michael Salvo