Jim Henry’s Writing Workplace Cultures – Technically Speaking left me somewhat confused yet enlightened at the same time. One key thing that really caught my attention was the idea of “writerly sensibilities” in relation to language and our interpretation of reality as they “shape discourse and as discourses shape them” (203). This term is quite unfamiliar to me and maybe this is because of such limitation of the institutional culture experienced in academic structure that Henry notes on page 202. To try to get a better handle on what was going on here, I looked up (good old Google) first what the definition of sensibility was as I think the ‘writerly’ was causing some confusion. Sensibility, according to the Merriam-Webster, is the “ability to feel and understand emotions” or the “kinds of feelings [we] have when [we] hear, see, read, or think about something.” Thus, paired with “writerly,” this intensifies or merely signifies the meaning, doing, understanding, and practicing of writing itself. Taking it into the technical communication realm, Henry references Gee, Hull, and Lankshear view of the new work order being “largely about trying to create new social identities or new kinds of people” (206). The latter of that quote calls for a pretty interesting discussion point – what does he mean by ‘new kinds of people?’ in the classroom? In workplace? Intellectually? Does he mean new ways f thinking? Professionally?
Speaking of institutions and that academic culture, I really liked how he addressed this shift of composition from production to process as he so rightly asks, “Why wouldn’t we want to afford student-writers the “real” experience of writing as we knew it – as n encounter with readers, as a response to feedback, [and above all], as a route to new visions” (202). So, in simpler terms, I think Henry is proposing new ways, theories, practices, and methods of writing predominantly through the postmodernist lens.
Further, I think Henry poses a fundamental call to the work remaining to “correct [the]underestimation of technical writing’s potential and prowess” (208) and how technical writing has in recent and past years be perceived as undervalued with a “neglected population” (209) of writers within he field. In this way, he stresses the importance of technical communication educators to equip their students with rhetorical, theoretical, and organizational knowledge (209) so as to take that know-how savvy into the professional realm.
Perhaps what really drew me in within this chapter was the questions highlighted on page 212 as Henry cites Cynthia L. Selfe and Richard Sefle, Jr. pertaining to writerly sensibility in the domain of ethics and responsibility. I think each question is vital in the research and practicing of technical communication and can be of much use for future thought/conversation (and maybe even for final projects – such questions help create that theoretical space when thinking about my own final project and how to go about it). To end on Hnery, page 214 underlines some key things to take away, such as “language is the very material from which realties are socially constructed” and he goes further into how and why writing, particular technical writing/communication, is imperative in knowledge making/creating/building.
In t light, Grabill’s chapter serves as useful perspective on research and how it “produces culture and… its own possibilities for change” (167). As students, scholars, learners, knowledge finders and makers, I think we can see how important research is both within and outside our own workplace/space. More so, as Grabill points our, how such research and methodological practice can make a “significant contribution to public life” and communities. To this end, I think his prime example of the community-based research in his TOSC’s project provided that exemplification of the different ways in which how to approach how technical information is communicated to the community. Personally, I liked this approach – it reminded me of our conversation with Dr. Sackey in regards to how he went about his research methodology for a certain project (can’t remember which on exactly but I do remember him saying how he interacted with the local community and asked them to essentially peer review the texts and documents and asked for constructive feedback, thereby engaging in community-based research; a collaborative effort in way).