Experience Report: Technical Content Marketing Along the Technology Adoption Lifecycle

by Scott A. Mogull.
This article provides an overview of technical content marketing and examines the audiences and messaging for technical product messaging, which differ from general consumer products. Notably, technical products, particularly those in innovative categories, require a varying marketing strategy throughout the technology adoption lifecycle as products appeal to customers with different attitudes towards technologies. Especially, content marketing for innovative technologies requires an understanding of the technical consumers’ (or audiences’) psychological motivations and needs, which have yet to be reviewed in the technical communication literature. In this article, the foundations of marketing innovative technical products are explored, with a specific focus on the messaging strategies as it changes to educate and persuade different categories of technology consumers during different phases of the technology adoption lifecycle. For new technical products and categories of products, the messages and channels of information evolve as the technical innovation progresses from the early market to a mainstream market, with both requiring adaptation to different audience segments and in response to emerging competitive pressures. For the majority of technical innovations, the technical content marketing strategy and messaging is a long-term investment for change to reach different consumer groups at the appropriate stage of the technical product life cycle.

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.

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.

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.

Political Technical Communication and Ideographic Communication Design in a Pre-digital Congressional Campaign

by Ryan Cheek
Building on the work of technical communication scholars concerned with social justice and electoral politics, this article examines the Coray for Congress (1994) campaign as a case study to argue in support of a more formal disciplinary commitment to political technical communication (PxTC). Specifically, I closely analyze the ideographic communication design of pre-digital PxTC artifacts from the campaign archive. The type of pre-digital political communication design products analyzed in this article are ubiquitous even today. The implications of four dominant ideographs are analyzed in this case study: , , , and . Key takeaways for PxTC practitioners, educators, and scholars are discussed.

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.

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.

Upcoming Dates