Week 4 readings

I actually find that this week’s reading makes sense more than any previous readings. I even could relate to some of the points discussed away from the fact that I am not a technical communicator. In chapter 5, the discussion starts with what is “theory”. Different perspectives about what theory is are offered, and I find the part that states that theory is_a critique of common sense and more of an act of complicating what is initially perceived as normal_interesting because I can argue that taking something as normal can be a theory by itself against which another theory is measured or produced. I think that any theory whether it is proved scientifically or just by a set of analysis is subject to questioning and contradiction. There is no ultimate or universal theory. It is due to the fact that people would approach a situation from different perspectives that makes the existences of a universal theory relatively impossible. In an ESL/EFL classroom, which is a situation I can relate to, it is theorized that when students sit in a circle, there would be more interactive engagement with the instructor. However, I can take a social or cultural perspective and question this theory because I know from experience that female students in some contexts do not feel comfortable in such as situation and interact less in the classroom. Both views might be true and their suitability changes with the change of the context.

The reading also discusses how a theory can be a framework to approach a certain situation. Herein the importance of rhetorical theory to technical communicators is situated. With technical communication initial view of writing as a construction of identity, a technical communicator faced a problem understanding their “audience” needs. However, rhetorical theory, which puts forward the questions of effectively a document would work with the intended audience, helped technical communicators fill the gap between their work and their audience needs. In the same way a theory can help in the problem-solving situation, history can also provide answers for a current situation. Tracing back history can help situate a problem within a context that best explains what might work well or not depending on past events and experiences. History, therefore, can affect the work of technical communicators. The history of the workplace can have an influence on the technical communicators work and the decisions they make to accomplish their work effectively. For instance, when Rita, the technical communicator whose task is to develop ICU protocol document, started to trace the history of the exiting protocol, she could, for instance, identify the problems of the current protocol (i.e., poor design) and she could also identify the main purpose for developing this protocol and the organization’s historical and cultural goals. Thus, tracing history of the workplace can better situate the technical communicator’s work and enhance it.

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