Narrative in Tech Comm

A common thread among this week’s readings is a focus on the applicability of narrative as a methodological resource in technical communication. This is uncharted, but exciting  territory. As a group, I think these three chapters highlight some possibilities as well as expose some problems. First, these arguments foreground values other than those that are typically privileged in technical and profession

al communication.  Jones and Walton cite Scott, Longo, and Wills assertion that the field needs “approaches that historicize technical communication’s roles in hegemonic power relations—approaches that are openly critical of nonegalitarian, unethical practices and subject positions, that promote values other than conformity, efficiency, and effectiveness, and that account for technical communication’s broader cultural conditions, circulation and effects” (qtd on pg 336). Their work proposes that narrative steps into this space by responding to that call and achieving “a subjective, reflexive, and critical way of conceptualizing what technical communication is, what technical communication does, and why technical communication matters” (qtd on pg 336). I totally agree. I think this shift is the gateway for what Moore’s and Moeller’s articles achieve. Moore’s work demonstrates the potential narrative has to make connections to the people who will use technical documents and to reflect their experiences in ways that improve design. Moeller’s argument reframes one of the most common and important aspects business structures as a narrative: a brand absolutely creates a narrative that  technical communicators, community members, and documents must all act as characters within. Seeing the usefulness in narrative can help us take the critical stance that Moeller’s adopts in her approach to the Race for the Cure branding of the Susan G. Komen foundation. For me, the exposure of this problem in tech comm was really the most robust space for further exploration. I am more interested in tech comm outside of its traditional science and business spaces. And it is within these government and community spaces, where the goals of technical communication might have more civic-oriented consequences  that we’re are least critical of technical documents and their impact on people. Moeller’s challenge to our blind privileging of altruism at the expense of specific groups of vulnerable people opens up new avenues of inquiry and exploration that I want to pursue.

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