Almost all of today was spent doing homework for me. I read the Peeples' text -- three very, very dense papers entitled, "What's Practical About Technical Writing?" "Whose Ideas? The Technical Writer's Expertise in Inventio," and "The Technical Communicator as Author: Meaning, Power, Authority."
I had to read several paragraphs in all three of these papers several times to "get" them, and had to take copious notes while reading as I couldn't remember what was in one article after starting the next, much less try to remember anything about all three of them for Monday night's class.
The Technical Communicator as Author: Meaning, Power, Authority
By Jennifer Daryl Slack, David James Miller, Jeffrey Doak
Michigan Technological University
Peeples, pp. 80-89
Communication Theory Summary:
- The most clearly delineated, extensively studied and critiqued
- Concerned with the possibilities and problems in conveying meaning from one point to another
- The sender has the power, which is evidenced when the receiver behaves in the intended manner of the message
- Meaning is a "fixed entity," moving "whole cloth" from origin to destination (but sender may encode message poorly, or receiver may decode message poorly, or noise may be introduced either literally by the transmission vehicle or figuratively by, for instance, the receiver being distracted while decoding it)
- View dominated the early stages of the theory and practice of technical communication from the late 1800s to the 1950s, but persisting to the presence
- In this view technical writing and engineering writing are treated as synonymous
- The technical writers job in this view is to assure that messages are encoded well, and transmitted with minimal noise (actually, be transparent and become the clear channel)
- The invisibility of the technical writer keeps the engineer visible, further supporting the notion that technical writers do not add value
- Not explicitly stated in this view is that the receiver is treated as a passive recipient
- Concerned with constitution of meaning in the interpretation and reinterpretation of the message
- Power is negotiated between the sender and the receiver as meaning is produced through the interaction of sender and receiver
- In this view, activity of the receiver is considered just as constitutive (construction of meaning) of the communication process as is the activity of the sender
- "Privileging" the encoding process (Stuart Hall): "dominate decoding," "oppositional decoding," "aberrant decoding," and "negotiated decoding." Sounds like positivist.
- "Equally constitutive" encoding (John Fiske, Bakhtin): Heteroglossia – all utterances… are functions of a matrix of forces practically impossible to recoup, and Polysemy – a text is not merely a bearer of meanings, but rather limits an arena within which the meanings can be found… within those terms there is considerable space for the negotiation of meaning. Sounds like it's toward critical theory and constructivism.
- Power, then, is the practice of making meaning. Because both encoders and decoders generate meaning, both exercise power.
- In this view the technical communicator must work to bring decodings into symmetry with the encodings, but the decoders are always active in the process and can disrupt by decoding differently. This is why the push to "know your audience," so that you can minimize that disruption.
- Concerned with the ongoing struggle to articulate and rearticulate meaning
- Technical communicator is complicit in an ongoing articulation and re-articulations of relations of power
- Context is determined not only by the sender and receiver, but also by the mediator, which is no longer just the technical communicator, but the channels (such as media and technologies) of transmission as well.
- A specific, particular set of articulations constitutes an identity chain. Train cars that make up the chain are arranged (or articulated) in a particular way, which are though, nonnecessary. That is, there is no absolute necessity that they be connected in just that way and no guarantees that they will remain connected that way.
- Some articulations are more resistant to re-articulation than others, and they are said to be more tenacious. The more tenacious an articulation is the longer it remains intact and effective.
- This view contains the attribution of an author, while the other two don't.
- Sounds like some critical theory and some constructivism.
I read Dicks' chapter on Estimating, which I needed to know before doing my paper that's due for Tuesday night's class. I fell asleep after that, from about 5:00 - 7:00.
We showered, and a couple of cocktails, and headed out to Flex for dancing. It was dead in there, but we actually had 5 or 6 dancers there, so started dancing at around 8:30 instead of the normal 9:15 or so, even though we're supposed to start at 8:00. It eventually got quite crowded, and we got to dance much later than usual. We usually stop at 10:30 or 11, but Brigner said just after 11 that if we move the fan so he can open the pool table, we could keep dancing. We danced probably for another half hour, and then Adam stopped playing songs that we knew dances to.
Joe and Steve came between 10 and 10:30, and after dancing we spent time talking with them. Doug and his friend Robert also came after a while. Eventually we all went over to CCs, where lots more drinking flirting took place.
Oh yeah, we stopped at the hot dog stand on the way there, and got a quick dog. During the evening, I did a couple of dances with Steve. For a few minutes, me, Joe and Doug went into the piano lounge where the girl who was Diane Champion's partner at the time of Diane's death was performing. She sang "Seasons of Love" from Rent, which I love. "Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes..."
I'm not sure what time Robert and I left CCs -- some time after 2, maybe 2:30. We stopped at the IHOP. It was totally jammed in there, but we got seated fairly quickly. Unfortunately, we did not get waited on fairly quickly, though. This waiter, who was a total spaz "darting here and there -- fast, but not organized) who was trying to "chill with the brothers" at this one big table, plus be a waiter. It appeared the he was "brokering" cell phone numbers between one "or more) of the guys at his table of six with some chickie-poohs on the other side of the restaurant. Something like that.
We eventually got our food, of which mine was somewhat disappointing. Fortunately, it came with pancakes, which were delicious -- especially with the butter that came on them, and the butter pecan syrup I poured on top of them. Yum. After some drama getting our check we bugged out of there. I think we got home close to 3:45 and to bed by 4:00.