Sorry for posting this several weeks late. It’s been a very intense and overwhelming time for me life-wise and I have been struggling across the board. I also didn’t have the Critical Power Tools book so a huge thank you to Temp for letting me borrow her copy!
In evaluating the book overall, I was not surprised that the authors elected to discuss the “critical power tools” needed to be successful in the context of where technical communication and cultural studies meet. As other readings and class discussions have shown, we are now at a cultural crossroads due to expansive migration and continuous traveling across borders and regions. For this reason, we need technical communication more than ever before and we also need technical communication as a field to reflect the diversified cultures we come across each day.
In the introduction, the author discusses technical communication scholarship at the crossroads of cultural studies, introduces technical communication’s hyperpragmatist legacy, and acknowledges the limitations of hyperpragmatism and the contributions of cultural studies. As I was reading the section, particularly on the contributions of cultural studies, I found myself agreeing to the authors’ justification on cultural studies. At least it seemed and felt like justification? Or maybe just detailed explanation? Whatever, we want to call it, I was a little surprised by it. Yes, I agreed to it, but was the justification really all that needed? I mean it’s cultural studies. We live, breathe, eat in it every day. Food for thought.
In Chapter 1, Slack, Miller, & Doak discuss the relevance of communication theory, the changing conceptions of meaning and power through transmission, then through translation, and finally through articulation, and the implications for pedagogy and practice. I found this chapter to be really interesting, I had never considered the roles of transmission, translation, and articulation so thoroughly and what exactly the impact of those roles would be on pedagogy and practice.
In Chapter 2, Digler discusses extreme usability and technical communication by defining usability and extreme usability and articulating extreme usability in a variety of ways including as a quality possessed by technology and as a methodology. Digler concludes that the relationship between extreme usability and technical communication is complemented in a cultural studies approach.
Chapter 3 was by far my favorite. Any discussion regarding technology and it’s impact on technical communication and vice versa immediately raises my interest. Overall, I thought Moses and Katz did a great job articulating the role of email and how our way of communicating has been impacted by it. This is something I do struggle with often since there is a desire to be friendly and person, but also a need to be professional too. It’s a difficult balancing act and one I am still working on figuring out.