Rhetorical Hedonism and Gray Genres

by Jimmy Butts and Josephine Walwema.
As technical genres continue to grow and morph in promising new directions, we attempt an analysis of what are typically viewed as mundane genres. We use the term gray genres, which we find useful for interrogating texts that tend to fall in categories that tend toward a blandness that is invariably difficult to quantify. We use hedonism, along with a historical accounting for this value from its classical rhetorical lineage and run it up to contemporary applications. We posit that playful stylistic choices—while typically discouraged in more technical spaces—actually improves the rhetorical canon of delivery for informative documents. We close with case studies that offer close readings of a few attempts at employing hedonistic tactics within typical gray genres.

A Machine Learning Algorithm for Sorting Online Comments via Topic Modeling

by Junzhe Zhu, Elizabeth Wickes, and John R. Gallagher.
This article uses a machine learning algorithm to demonstrate a proof-of-concept case for moderating and managing online comments as a form of content moderation, which is an emerging area of interest for technical and professional communication (TPC) researchers. The algorithm sorts comments by topical similarity to a reference comment/article rather than display comments by linear time and popularity. This approach has the practical benefit of enabling TPC researchers to reconceptualize content display systems in dynamic ways.

CDQ Issue 9-1 is now live!

We are happy to announce the latest issue of Communication Design Quarterly (Volume 9 Issue 1) is now live! Featuring work by Shannon Butts, Madison Jones, Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq, Breeanne Matheson, Mai Ibrahim, Temple West, Elisa Cogbill-Seiders, and Elizabeth E. Weems

Decolonizing Decoloniality: Considering the (Mis)use of Decolonial Frameworks in TPC Scholarship

by Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq and Breeanne Matheson
As the field of technical and professional communication (TPC) has moved toward more inclusive perspectives, the use of decolonial frameworks has increased rapidly. However, TPC scholarship designed using decolonial frameworks lacks a clear, centralized definition and may overgeneralize and/or marginalize Indigenous concerns. Using a corpus analysis of TPC texts, we assess the ways that the field uses “decolonial” and propose a centralized definition of “decolonial” that focuses on rematriation of Indigenous land and knowledges. Further, we offer a heuristic that aids scholars in communication design appropriate for decolonial research and teaching strategies.

Deep Mapping for Environmental Communication Design

by Shannon Butts and Madison Jones.
This article shares lessons from designing EcoTour, a multimedia environmental advocacy project in a state park, and it describes theoretical, practical, and pedagogical connections between locative media and community-engaged design. While maps can help share information about places, people, and change, they also limit how we visualize complex stories. Using deep mapping, and blending augmented reality with digital maps, EcoTour helps people understand big problems like climate change within the context of their local community. This article demonstrates the rhetorical potential of community-engaged design strategies to affect users, prompt action, and create more democratic discourse in environmental communication.

2020 Career Advancement Research Grant Award Winners

The SIGDOC executive committee is pleased to announce the winners of the two Career Advancement Research Grants for 2020. Congratulations to Sweta Baniya, Ph.D for the project “Exploring Risk and Crisis Communication Practices of Transnational Feminists in Ensuring Equity and Justice During COVID-19” and to Avery Edenfield, Ph.D for the project “Queer Becomings: The Ethics, Rhetoric, and Materiality of Care in Trans Networks.” 
Congratulations again to both winners! We are excited to see this project come to fruition and are pleased to support it.

Hybrid Collectivity: Hacking Environmental Risk Visualization for the Anthropocene

by Lynda Olman and Danielle DeVasto.
In this essay, we propose a hack of existing models of environmental risk communication so that they will better address Anthropocene risks. We focus our discussion on a key area of risk communication: environmental risk visualization (ERV). Drawing on social-constructionist theories of risk and our own research on ERVs, we assemble criteria for designing and evaluating ERVs based on their hybrid collectivity—meaning their ability to collect agents around themselves over time and across traditional Modern divides between human/nonhuman, expert/nonexpert, and nature/culture. We test the criteria on two ERVs from the 2011 Fukushima disaster and discuss the resulting promises and challenges of an approach to risk communication motivated by hybrid collectivity.