Week 3 – Reading Response

Selfe and Selfe used the first part of Chapter 1 to give a better understanding of technical communication. This proved to be near impossible as (early on) technical communication was given no single definition but one which describes it as an in-depth description of the mapping/studying of “boundaries, artifacts, and identities that constitute the field” (19). In my reading, I noticed that the chapter actually switches goals. The beginning attempts to define technical communication even though it states that the field – at this moment- is far too large to compact into a concrete description. The last part of the chapter continues in its efforts to bring further understanding to the field of technical comm, but it does so by implementing visual representation (text-clouds) of the first part of the chapter. Though I understand what the authors were attempting to do here, I would feel conflicted if I did not voice my concerns with the “flow” of the information provided. There seemed to be an almost instant switch from what constitutes technical comm to the utilization of text clouds (it just seemed so awkward!). Granted the use of text clouds and its incorporation within the text gives more insight, I could not help but notice that when everything was said and done technical communication (despite obvious efforts) was still poorly defined and left to be interpreted by the reader. This in itself helped me be able to see where this becomes a problem for those within the field, as it must be difficult to be dedicated to something that you cannot quite put into words.

I will say, on another note, that the text clouds interested me because I can recall seeing them in major texts. Until reading this, I never realized how prevalent these maps actually are. They do tend to give readers large amounts of information at once, but the sequence in which text clouds were used within this particular chapter made understanding technical writing techniques even more confusing.

Now as for Chapter 2 and Chapter 4, I found it inevitable in asking myself if (or better yet, HOW) work patterns and practices will change in the years to come as well as how this change will affect the development of both technical communication and those dedicated to its advancement (especially since we are becoming a more technologically advanced society). All three professionals mentioned in Chapter 4 were considered technical writers to some extent but were given a number of secretarial – and even managerial – jobs. I feel as though it would be safe to say at this point that being a technical writer puts one in a position of multi-tasking, but I can only wonder if this is where some of the confusion lies. This entire reading assignment this week has attempted to make technical comm and the professions within the field clearer to outsiders; however, there seems to be conflict everywhere you turn, including within the field itself. There is conflict in relevance (to different fields), employee/employer expectations, and so on and so forth. Early thinking on my end brought about the idea that perhaps the first step to defining technical comm is to put less emphasis on the writing part since just about all of the readings agree that writing is but a small percentage of work being done, but because writing and working with a number of mediums/texts is at the core of the field this is innately impossible. In all honesty, I feel as though this conflict that the field is experiencing lies primarily in what Chapter 1 attempted to do and what Cook, Cook, Minson, and Wilson write as “a crucial step to becoming a profession” (101). Taking the time to define technical communication and all that is has to offer would make things easier for not only those employed within the field but also for those who are currently studying the field and/or preparing to enter it. How exactly does this come about though? My answer would be to continue studies around technical communication and begin separating its tasks and job titles so that it won’t all be clumped together. As mentioned previously, it will be interesting to see where the field goes as we begin incorporating even more technology. Many of the jobs that were mentioned in Chapter 4 by the three professionals may not even be required for tech professionals in the future. I question, at this point, if organization of the field is the key to finally being able to define it.


One comment

  1. ranadabwan · January 28, 2016

    Thank you, Constance! Reading your respond helped me realize that I am not really lost! I keep reading and still do not understand what technical or professional communication exactly is. I thought I had a problem understanding it because it is the first time I read about it, but your response helped me understand that it is normal to be lost.


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