Overview for Today
Today is about information design. This is an introduction only, but I should mention we do teach a course on it: ENGL 4182 “Information Design & Digital Publishing.” This course will give you an in-depth look at principles of design. Remember, I, Robot is coming up, and I know you’ve all finished reading it. Let’s try to follow this:
Using Visuals in Technical Communication
It’s probably obvious to mention that visuals are an important component of Technical Communication. Some people forget that visuals communicate information about technologies and technical subjects. Think about all the illustrations, charts, graphs, etc. that you’ve seen. Why do you think an author included them?
Notice the first two bullet points in Ch. 6. (p. 112). Effective repetition, huh? Let’s head over to the Famous Visual Page to continue our discussion.
Thinking about the Digital Void…I Mean World
Time permitting, we’ll head back to the research page on source credibility:
- Source Credibility (scroll to the bottom of Epistemology page)
- What do you think about these Websites?
English Department Webpages:
Also, what problems could arise if you used Dr. Eastin’s monitor as the “typical” monitor for users of your webpage?
- That monitor was huge–friggin enormous circa 2006. Now, it’s not as rare as it was. However, it’s important to remember that your audience will access your information in various ways, including on mobile devices. One expectation I have is that students will access this class website and Canvas on a desktop or laptop.
A Note or Two on E-mailing and CMD/CMC*
*CMD–Computer Mediated Discourse
CMC–Computer Mediated Communication
A good friend of mine, a software sales person, has very specific guidelines for the employees he supervises:
- Keep them short
- Change the Reply Subject to something more accurate
- Make them correct so the reader isn’t confused
- Use e-mail when appropriate…let’s discuss
Is there a difference between how men and women participate more in cyberspace? In the early 2000s, there was quite a bit of talk about the “digital divide,” which focused on how white middle-to-upper class males used the internet the most. The feeling was that not having access to the internet would be detrimental to one’s chances for success. Because of the near ubiquity of mobile communication devices, this “divide” shrank; however, we learned during the pandemic that people had disproportionate access to reliable internet connections. I don’t think it’s beneficial to consider mere access as the standard for closing the digital divide. Homeless individuals have “access” to the internet. One’s phone is able to access the internet. What I would like you to reflect on is your level of access. Consider the ways you normally access the internet and for what purposes. For instance, I have lots of access:
- Home computer (desktop with scanner, printer, and 27-in monitor)
- Office computer (laptop with docking station and two 27-in monitors)
- Mobile phone
The above ways I access the internet offer me advantages over those who only have mobile phone access and, even worse, wi-fi only mobile phone access. Moving to remote teaching wasn’t ideal because there’s more we can do face-to-face, but I had all the resources I needed to do it. I even bought a green screen! Also, I only had one 6-hour period in the past 18 months where Spectrum’s internet went down…from 6 am to Noon, so I barely noticed. Therefore, we can say I have very reliable access to the internet and a variety of ways to access the internet for my work, social, and entertainment needs.
Anther aspect of the “digital divide” deals with gender differences. Again, back in the early 2000s, many researchers claimed that men used the internet more than women, and the differences were very pronounced globally and especially in developing countries. An essay in The Internet Encyclopedia (2004) titled “Gender and Internet Usage” by
Ruby Roy Dholakia, Nikhilesh Dholakia, and Nir Kshetri noted the huge discrepancy of men’s and women’s internet usage in developing countries, but noted that there was more or less equal usage in the United States and Canada. However, they also pointed out that men’s and women’s behaviors online mimicked their offline behaviors. For instance, men and women made online purchases roughly equal to each other; however, “men report greater purchases of technical products online and women purchase more apparel” (p. 19). I wonder if this still holds true. Consider your online purchases in the past year. What did you purchase the most? Here’s my rough estimate:
- Technical products (computers, computer accessories, appliances): 80%
- Books and media: 15%
- Food: 5% (yes, I rarely ordered food online, and I never used a delivery service like DoorDash or GrubHub)
- Apparel: 0% (but a friend sent me a t-shirt in the mail)
Blogs and IM/texting: I realize these are different things/activities, but I often think about them together. Maybe that’s just my peculiarity, but what do you think about the value (in terms of communication) for each?
Keep Up with the Syllabus
Your I, Robot essays are due Thursday, 6/17, so I hope you used your weekend wiser (why not “more wise”?) than I did. Make sure you’ve previewed the I, Robot discussion page to better understand the reasons why this novel is important to Technical Communication. I’m more than happy to explain the reasons further if you just don’t seem to get it. Much will relate to our discussions on the rhetoric of technology, but we’ll also discuss how I, Robot is germane to the nuts & bolts of technical communication. Also, your Proposal, Visual, and Annotated Bibliographies are due on Monday, 6/21.