Three key words came into mind during and after our readings for this week: adaptability, flexibility, and reflexivity. Conversationally, these could all encompass or provoke this fundamentality of open-mindedness and thinking outside of the box – a concept which I’m slowly but surely beginning to understand is so important within the field of technical and professional communication. In this view, Max’s case (page 126) could exemplify just how this very thinking outside the box could help him and the task at hand in terms of completion and success in transmission or transformation of information to said users.
Admittedly, when I first ready “usability specialist” (pg 125), I didn’t really know what that meant or entailed; however, the more I read, the more the text was able to dissect the complexities of the situation and Max’s problems faced. I thought it quite provocative how he seemed quite impatient (“the users just don’t get it” (125)) as this is probably something I would say or think if I had spent that time time and effort on trying to accommodate the users needs. But, as we see later on and as the chapter breaks down nicely what Max needs and should do in terms of meta-analysis and heuristic, as well as the importance placed on theorizing, it was cool to learn how Max could approach this certain problem and in what ways he could help resolve them.
To my understanding, in short, chapter five provides us with the very reasoning as to why and how the principality of theory is so focal in the professional field of technical communication. At first I was abit confused with this (and maybe we could talk more about in class) but I think what this particular chapter is highlighting to us is how, as technical communicators, they must first ask as many questions about the task at hand as possible (what is overall goal, who is my audience, what is the outcome, what purpose are we trying to accomplish with this text, etc.,), and maybe come up with a theoretical framework to build off when creating a documentation. Consequently, the primary focus is then placed upon the needs and wants of the audience, i.e the users of that document (or at least that’s what I got from it!).
On a side note, I really liked how this chapter identifies theory as it can be a rather complex and scary thing – about half way down page 129, Porter simplifies theory as a kind of “colour filter you use, that you must use in order to comprehend and analyze human behaviours, social events, or texts.” Moreover, on page 135, Porter sheds light on how writing is a “deceptively simple term” which I could not agree more with – personally, over past year or so (going from undergraduate to graduate in the English field of study), the realization of the many different facets of writing has become increasingly clear to me, in that it’s not just about literature (as we talked about in class briefly the other day).
Notably, Porter also helped clear a few cobwebs for me on what exactly usability specialist is as I previously mentioned I was abit confused with this term. Perhaps it indeed implies the analytical, critical, reflexive, metacognitive, and possibly more ways of thinking within the technical communicative sphere. One thing I will definitely take away from this particular chapter is the importance of being open-minded and self-reflective as a technical communicator. Yes, these traits are probably required for many, if not all, professions today, but I think, as Porter mentioned, that people tend to overlook the complexities and different levels of meta-analyzing that are involved in technical communication. With this in mind too, perhaps one of the most significant things I’ve learned about this professional field thus far (if I am thinking about this in terms of future career goals) is the amount of patience required in every aspect in order to be as successful as possible.
Touching briefly upon Longo and Fountain’s articulation on the history of technical communication, I really enjoyed reading this one. In all aspects of life, in varuious subject matters, or in numerous fields of study across the academic spectrum, I hold firm to the belief that without knowing and understanding history, we cannot move forward in the present. In other words, in order to understand the present, we must look to the past. On a side note and from a personal standpoint, my research interests are fundamentally based on the history of racism and colonialism so a lot of what I choose to write about in a rhetorical sense is based on historical aspects. In this way, I could maybe take the questions underlined on page 166 (half way down) into my writing process. I think it’s fair to say that people often neglect the history of something/one so it is important to be aware of it and take action to help augment progression and eventually succession in whatever is placed in front of us. With that being said, on a writing and textual standnpoint, I thought it was pretty cool how in this chapter we are told to look at the history of a text – not a person or a country or an interesting topic – a written piece of text, which can be quite a new concept (for me anyway!).