Chapters 1 & 2

One of the things that I like about this book is that it makes a solid point of recognizing that “technical communications” is so much more than just writing. I remember realizing that when I was going through my undergrad courses and we had to learn desktop publishing programs, such as Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, because they aided in the presentation of our information by making the information more easily accessible and, dare I say, more interesting. In looking at the text clouds designed in Chapter 1 as well as the work patterns in Chapter 2, both speak back to that point. Presentation of information helps it to be better understood, which is one of several items that makes technical communication so important. One of the things that I found so interesting about the ideal of creating text clouds is that they can be designed to show a large picture by including many terms or a smaller picture by limiting the focus of the terms (the book calls this “adjusting the granularity”).

When I worked in Oil and Gas, my position was titled “Information Developer.” I have never seen that title used anywhere else before I read Chapter 2 of this book. I actually had a hard time using that title outside of my workplace, because people kept guessing that it meant something akin to software developer and I got tired of explaining that was incorrect. My job as an Information Developer was very much like the example in the book: we were in charge of taking reports written by geologist and geophysicists and placing the text and any supporting media into the company’s report template. When I read the portion in Chapter 2 that discusses Technical Communicators work as information designers, that is exactly what we were doing. Working with the company’s template, we would have to format the text and images, make sure the text made sense in that placement, as well as manipulate any photographs and seismic charts the authors had accompanying their report to maintain the integrity of the image, but have the image still fit into the actual physical copy of the report. Sometimes this would prove challenging, as the charts would vary in size and not always be presented on a nice, neat, 8.5”by 11” page. “Making something new and adding value are the hallmarks of distributed work in technical communication.” (pg 53). Making the author’s paper into a company report added value to the company as these reports would be used in different stakeholder engagements as well as published in scientific journals.  

I see my experience with that job as also relating to the second pattern of Technical Communicators work as user advocates. When I eventually began editing the reports, as well as when I was formatting the reports, I had to make sure that the information was user friendly. The audience was primarily other scientists and people in the oil and gas field, so usage of jargon that would ordinarily be frowned upon was allowed, as it made the report more attractive to the audience for which it was intended.

While I do not have any real world experience with the third pattern of Technical Communicators work as stewards of writing activity in organizations, this is a concept I would like to learn more about. I support any instance in which I can help my community or my workplace become stronger writers/communicators.

6 thoughts on “Chapters 1 & 2

  1. biberbunch93 says:

    How wonderful that you have real world experience in this field. In chapter 2, I was exhausted just reading Elena’s narrative. Since you related to her duties, it must be validating to see the respect given to this field which functions behind the scenes. I look forward to following your blog because you will add a different perspective. I also want to compliment you on the format of your blog; it is visually appealing.

    Like

  2. Seize the day says:

    Tisha, I had the same feeling going my digital rhetoric class when we had to design websites using HTML! Just like you, I thought we were to learn some writing skills. I love your “information developer” story. It is just so hard to explain what a technical communicator does to those who have never heard about technical communication. I want to thank you for what you have done and are doing advocating the enhancement of user experience and your dedication to your workplace on technical communication. Looking forward to reading more from you!

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  3. christijwilliams says:

    Hi Tisha,
    I really felt like I got a bird’s eye view into your professional life. Your story gave a tangible definition to the technical communicator role to me. Thank you for sharing and making the text come alive in a different way. I really like the layout of your blog, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. imonts10 says:

    Tisha,
    I had to laugh a little when I read your post because I had just made a comment on someone else’s post about how I didn’t think I had ever met someone with a job as a technical communicator. I went on to make the point that the job changes so much that the job title of a technical communicator was probably constantly evolving and maybe I had met a technical communicator without actually knowing it.
    Thank you for providing your real world experience on this topic. I, like many others, was very confused about the roles and responsibilities about people in the technical communications field and this helped clarify some things for me. It really does seem like the act of writing is just a small part of this career path. Being able to manipulate existing text and data and communicate with other departments inside of a company seem like much more relevant skills necessary to be successful in this field.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jkbains20 says:

    Tisha- Like others have mentioned, I really appreciated your real life example. Your description of an “Information Developer” in the oil and gas field made the idea of technical writing a little more concrete!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hahaney says:

    I enjoyed that you identify with being much more than a wordsmith and that you are adding actual value to a document and making it user-friendly, which is a really important role.

    Like

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