63.3, August 2016

Recent & Relevant24 min read

Lyn Gattis, Editor

The following articles on technical communication have appeared recently in other journals. The abstracts are prepared by volunteer journal monitors. If you would like to contribute, contact Lyn Gattis at LynGattis@MissouriState.edu.

“Recent & Relevant” does not supply copies of cited articles. However, most publishers supply reprints, tear sheets, or copies at nominal cost. Lists of publishers’ addresses, covering nearly all the articles we have cited, appear in Ulrich’s international periodicals directory.


Joining forces across organizational divides

Chambers, H. (2016). Best Practices, 18(1), 11–13. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

“As anyone who has ever worked in a multinational company can attest, collaboration across functional divides can be fraught with politics and bureaucracy. Even the best of intentions or the highest level of sponsorship won’t bring the expected results unless some key dimensions are in place. . . .” In this sample case, the author describes a collaborative effort “between two very different teams, one from Marketing and the other from Consumer Support.” Over time, “positive social interaction” between the two teams ultimately built the trust necessary for the teams to “come together and work towards a common goal. . . . [O]ne should never underestimate the power of inclusion and how important it is for people to be heard in any team effort.”

Lyn Gattis

Team communication platforms and emergent social collaboration practices

Anders, A. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(2), 224–261. doi: 10.1177/2329488415627273

“Team communication platforms (TCPs), including the Slack software service, are an emergent class of social collaboration technology that combine features of multiple enterprise social media including social networking platforms and instant messaging. The media capabilities of these platforms, including integrations for diverse information and communication technologies, enable affordances for both highly adaptable and centralized team communication practices. In order to understand emergent practices in TCPs, this study offers a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the reflective practice of early adopter organizations and individuals based on a sample of self-published blog posts. Results indicate that TCPs enable affordances for communication visibility that support situated knowledge sharing and collaborative workflows. TCPs also enable affordances for multicommunication and attention allocation including flexible scaling of media modality and synchronicity. This latter affordance is conceptualized as polysynchronicity, a term that describes the dynamic synchronicity characteristic of communication practices in TCP.”

Katherine Wertz


Constructing organizational identity on internal social media: A case study of coworker communication in Jyske Bank

Madsen, V. T. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(2), 200–223. doi: 10.1177/2329488415627272

“This study explored how coworkers use internal social media (ISM) to contribute to the construction of organizational identity. The study analyzed 3 months of interactions among coworkers at a large Danish bank on ISM. In addition, 17 coworkers were interviewed to provide additional understanding about the online interactions. The study found that these coworkers constructed organizational identity when they challenge, negotiate, and discuss organizational issues on ISM. They use phrases from vision and mission statements to support their arguments and to push the understanding of organizational identity so that it is in line with their perceptions of what the bank really is or should be. Some of these discussions on ISM develop into organizational stories, which are shared and discussed in informal, in-person conversations among coworkers. The stories become narratives, which contribute to the organizational identity, help coworkers make sense of the organization, and help them identify with the organization.”

Katherine Wertz

Crowdsourcing strategizing: Communication technology affordances and the communicative constitution of organizational strategy

Aten, K., & Thomas, G. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(2), 148–180. doi: 10.1177/2329488415627269

“Disruptive environmental trends are forcing organizations to be more innovative in their approaches to organizational strategy generation. Rather than using a traditional top-down approach, some organizations are turning to open strategizing, which involves a large number of stakeholders who communicate in transparent, virtual environments. This study used a case analysis to explore one organization’s use of crowdsourcing technology in a move from a traditional to an open strategizing approach. Drawing on technology affordance and communicative-as-constitutive perspectives, [the authors] identified individual and collective crowdsourcing technology affordances for strategizing. Subsequently, [the authors] explored how the technology affordances influenced organizational strategizing. Results showed that crowdsourced strategy was constituted as multivoice, divergent, egalitarian, and inclusive.”

Katherine Wertz

Introduction: Communicating reproduction [special issue]

Hopwood, N., Jones, P. M., Kassell, L., & Secord, J. (2015). Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 89(3), 379–404. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2015.0064

“Communication should be central to histories of reproduction, because it has structured how people do and do not reproduce. Yet communication has been so pervasive, and so various, that it is often taken for granted and the historical specificities overlooked. Making communication a frame for histories of reproduction can draw a fragmented field together, including by putting the promotion of esoteric ideas on a par with other practical activities. Paying communication close attention can revitalize the history of reproduction over the long term by highlighting continuities as well as the complex connections between new technologies and new approaches. Themes such as the power of storytelling, the claiming and challenging of expertise, and relations between knowledge and ignorance, secrecy and propriety also invite further study.”

Edward A. Malone

Social collaboration in intranets: The impact of social exchange and group norms on internal communication

Uysal, N. (2016). International Journal of Business Communication, 53(2), 181–199. doi: 10.1177/2329488415627270

“Employees increasingly interact through social networking platforms in the workplace. A distinguishing feature of these platforms is their ability to build a sense of community (SOC)—the feelings of membership, influence, integration, and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection. Yet much remains to be understood as to the way these platforms contribute to building a SOC at workplaces. This study examines whether organizational members exhibit community-like behaviors and processes in intranet communication. The study also tests a theoretical model in which members’ perceptions of the group’s norms affect the antecedents of SOC. The results of a survey of 112 employees revealed that both exchanging and observing support increased feelings of SOC. Furthermore, the perception of group norms mediated the relationship between observing and exchanging support and SOC. This study contributes to the field of business communication by applying a theory-based framework to intranets and empirically testing the role of group norms in shaping online communication behaviors at workplaces.”

Katherine Wertz


Illustrating beauty and utility: Visual rhetoric in two medical texts written in China’s Northern Song dynasty, 960–1127

Zhang, Y. (2016). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 46(2), 172–205. doi: 10.1177/0047281616633599

“This article examines illustrations in two medical texts written in China’s Northern Song dynasty. Compared with medical books produced in previous dynasties, these two texts incorporated more illustrations with enhanced beauty and usability. These visual features, [the author] argue[s], carried rhetorical attributes that helped these texts negotiate their way into printing, circulation, and becoming canonical in their own genres. At the same time, they also facilitated efficient and accurate reading through reduced visual clutter and enhanced accuracy and thus appealed to both the elite and the public readership. The article reviews these visual strategies and their implication for technical communication today.”

Anita Ford

Introduction: Beyond illustrations: Doing anatomy with images and objects [special issue]

Berkowitz, C. (2015). Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 89(2), 165–170. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2015.0057

“This forum engages with a central component of medical science and medical practice—the visualization of anatomy, pathology, and disease. It is about the collaborations among surgeons, medical men, and anatomists that were necessary to visualization, and about the authority bestowed upon an image or object that stands for a part of the body or a disease, and also bestowed upon the author of that object or image. It considers aesthetic choices and their social and epistemic contexts and consequences. But it is also about our practices as historians. How do we move beyond thinking of images and objects as simply illustrative? How do we pursue historical inquiry with them? And what are we responsible for conveying about their making and purpose in the images we ourselves display in our books and articles? This introduction provides a brief outline of the themes that structure the three articles collected [in the special issue] and begins to frame answers to such questions.”

Edward A. Malone

Typographic features of text and their contribution to the legibility of academic reading materials: An empirical study

Lonsdale, M. (2016). Visible Language, 50(1). [online] [doi: none]

“An experimental study provided evidence that text layout affects performance when reading text to search for specific information under time pressure in an examination-type situation. The present paper reports a second experimental study conducted to ascertain whether this effect extends to similar academic reading materials and situations that, contrary to examinations, are performed under no time pressure. Three layouts were used for comparison, which replicated real-life examination materials and represented three distinct levels of legibility. The results revealed that text layout affects performance under conditions of search reading even when time pressure is absent. Moreover, participants performed better with the layout conforming to legibility guidelines and considered this layout to be the easiest to use and the most attractive. In order to understand these findings, an attempt is made to specify a theoretical model of reading in academic-type situations. The model identifies and analyses the stages of the reading process that might be affected by typographic layout and adopts the hypothesis that such effect takes place at the perceptual level of reading. The outcomes from this study will prove useful to those involved in the development of written materials used in academia such as textbooks, journal articles, magazines, and tests.”

Lyn Gattis


E-book perceptions and use in STEM and non-STEM disciplines: A comparative follow-up study

Carroll, A. J., Corlett-Rivera, K., Hackman, T., & Zou, J. (2016). Libraries and the Academy, 16(1), 131–162. doi: 10.1353/pla.2016.0002

“This article describes the results of a survey that gathered data on perceptions and use of e-books from undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff. The investigators analyzed the results based on user affiliate status and subject discipline and compared the results with the findings of a similar, smaller-scale study conducted in 2012. The study concludes with a discussion of the major findings and their implications for academic libraries and publishers, as well as areas for further inquiry.”

Edward A. Malone

Revising a content-management course for a content strategy world

Gonzales, L., Potts, L., Hart-Davidson, B., & McLeod, M. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(1), 56–67. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2537098

“This teaching case describes the evolution of a course on content strategy aimed at advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the digital and professional writing programs at Michigan State University.” Over time, the focus of the course (reflecting changing industry practices) has shifted from writing Web content to single sourcing to enterprise content management systems; the case examines how the course’s current focus on content strategy can “reflect current practices in industry while maintaining grounding for the course in academic research.” The most recent version of the course “specifically addresses three themes identified from the literature—emphasizing the role of the content strategist as an Editor-in-Chief, differentiating the needs of clients and users, and designing for reuse.” The authors conclude, “A course on content strategy that incorporates current industry perspectives helps graduate and undergraduate professional writing students become more adequately prepared for their future professions working with organizations.”

Rhonda Stanton

Information management

Content strategy—A unifying vision [special issue]

Batova, T., & Andersen, R. (eds). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(1), 2–6. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2540727

“The papers in this special section focus on effective content strategies. As a unifying vision and action plan, content strategy brings together various specialized writing communities, including professional and technical communication, marketing communication, and web development, ideally breaking disciplinary silos and biases and promoting convergence of these four key dimensions of practice. Component content management, an interdisciplinary area of practice that focuses on creating and managing information as small components rather than documents, has brought significant changes to professional and technical communication work since 2008. One major change is the move toward integrating organizational and user-generated content as well as disciplines and departments, expertise and roles, and business processes and tools. As stakeholders with various backgrounds across organizational units increasingly work together to create and publish content components, they need a unifying approach that fulfills business goals, organization requirements, and user needs. Content strategy has been proposed as that unifying approach.”

Rhonda Stanton

Content strategy: An integrative literature review

Clark, D. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(1), 7–23. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2537080

This article examines two research questions: “How is content strategy defined and described in professional and scholarly literature? What do these definitions and descriptions suggest about the direction of the field of professional and technical communication?” Using classical rhetorical theory as the study’s theoretical foundation, the author reviewed peer-reviewed and trade literature on content strategy, including definitions of content and content strategy. Despite some lack of clarity in the definitions, the author finds that “three areas of consensus exist among the definitions” and explains them. “The literature suggests that content strategy provides a pathway to make the work of technical communicators more central to organizations.”

Rhonda Stanton

iFixit myself: User-generated content strategy in “The Free Repair Guide for Everything”

Getto, G., & Labriola, J. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(1), 37–55. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2527259

“This study investigates the phenomenon of user-generated content strategy in an open-source, wiki-based content-management system (CMS) for the repair of technological devices (http://ifixit.com). By ‘user-generated content strategy,’ [the authors] mean processes for developing systems for producing, moderating, and encouraging user-generated content.” The researchers investigated how content is managed and organized in “an open-source, wiki-based content-management system that relies on content generated by a wide variety of users” and also what content rules or logic might “emerge from a qualitative case study of such a CMS.” [The authors] “conducted a content audit of iFixit’s main educational initiative, the Technical Writing Project (http://edu.ifixit.com) to identify strategies iFixit uses to organize content in this initiative.” They also “supplemented the audit with interviews with student participants in the project and iFixit technical writing staff to find out what technologies and other affordances affected users of the iFixit Technical Writing Project. . . . Lessons for organizations who wish to encourage user-generated content include developing strategies that protect users from the worst consequences of their actions, that encourage participation, and that allow for experienced users to vet new content.”

Rhonda Stanton

International standards for information development and content management

Hackos, J. T. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(1), 24–36. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2527278

“Why are standards and standards development important for information development and management?” This article suggests seven key lessons about how to use standards to “manage content development . . . support the development of content . . . review and test information . . . manage agile information development . . . manage the development of documentation . . . select and implement a content-management system . . . [and] hire information developers who understand the importance of using standards.” The author concludes that “[s]tandards provide a means for information developers to ensure that they are managing and developing content effectively. Implementing standards in an organization helps to ensure that technology choices made today will not restrict future technology developments.”

Rhonda Stanton

Top ten list for content strategy

Berry, M. (2016). Best Practices, 18(1), 14–16. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

This article offers practical guidelines for understanding “what content strategy really is, and how it works in a technical publication context.” The author differentiates between content strategy, which uses content to “achieve a measurable business goal,” and information architecture, which is the way content is structured for “maximum reuse, translation, ease-of-navigation . . . and other broad usability goals.” The article includes suggestions for using metrics to evaluate “effectiveness of topics or other deliverables,” create new strategies, and document successes. The author notes that content issues can also help identify non-content problems the organization should address.

Lyn Gattis

Intercultural issues

Picture this: Developing a model for the analysis of visual metadiscourse

De Groot, E., Nickerson, C., Korzilius, H., & Gerritsen, M. (2016). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 30(2), 165–201. doi: 10.1177/1050651915620235

“Corporate documents increasingly rely on visual rhetoric to complement text. Although previous studies have indicated that companies’ local culture may be reflected in the images they employ, scholars have never systematically investigated the use of visual rhetoric as it is used across different business cultures. This study analyzes visual rhetoric using a new model of visual metadiscourse—a set of devices that designers use to convey meaning in order to influence the audience’s interpretation of the text. The study compares the visual metadiscourse in photos used in English management statements in the annual reports of Dutch and U.K. companies. The results show that metadiscourse is inherent not only in the written text of a corporate document but also in the visuals that a design team chooses to include. The results also indicate that despite some similarities, Dutch-based and U.K.-based statements contain differences in their use of visual metadiscourse. Several of these differences can be attributed to cultural differences between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The study underlines the applicability of the new model and warns international text designers not to overlook cultural differences in visual metadiscourse.”

Sean C. Herring

Recognizing appropriate representation of indigenous knowledge in design practice

Kelly, M., & Kennedy, R. (2016). Visible Language, 50(1). [online] [doi: none]

“This paper focuses on the need for designers to follow clear, concise, workable practises to engage appropriately and ethically with indigenous knowledge on projects involving the graphical depiction of indigenous culture. Incorporating indigenous symbols into visual communication design strategies impacts a wide range of stakeholders and therefore requires a sensitive approach with broad consultation in regard to permissions and intellectual property rights; issues can be worked through if respectful practice methods are applied. This paper acknowledges cultural appropriation is not new and that creative, cross cultural interpretation and expressions of hybridity should be encouraged. However, respectful communication, consultation, and collaboration are required whenever commercial application of indigenous culture is attempted. To demonstrate the need for clarity, three case study examples [are] presented, each with design solutions involving the use of graphical depictions of indigenous culture and each selected due to the varying degrees of stakeholder engagement undertaken in the design process. The introduction of the ladder of stakeholder engagement theory is a new concept introduced in this paper that can be employed to better consider the appropriate and ethical engagement of designers with indigenous knowledge.”

Lyn Gattis

“Womb with a view”: The introduction of Western obstetrics in nineteenth-century Siam

Pearson, Q. T. (2016). Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 90(1), 1–31. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2016.0005

“This article focuses on the historical confrontation between Western obstetrical medicine and indigenous midwifery in nineteenth-century Siam (Thailand). Beginning with the campaign of medical missionaries to reform Siamese obstetrical care, it explores the types of arguments that were employed in the contest between these two forms of expert knowledge. Missionary–physicians used their anatomical knowledge to contest both particular indigenous obstetrical practices and more generalized notions concerning its moral and metaphysical foundations. At the same time, by appealing to the health and well-being of the consorts and children of the Siamese elite, they gained access to the intimate spaces of Siamese political life.”

Edward A. Malone

The write bias: The influence of native writing direction on aesthetic preference biases

Friedrich, T. E., & Elias, L. J. (2016). Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(2), 128–133. doi: 10.1037/aca0000055

“Consistent with previous literature examining visuospatial biases of left-to-right and right-to-left readers, the two reading groups in the current experiment demonstrated different preference biases. Similar to previous research examining Western populations, participants whose native language reads from left to right (Hindi) demonstrated a strong preference for stimuli with a left-to-right directionality from the perceivers’ point of view. However, participants whose native language reads from right to left (Urdu) failed to demonstrate a lateral preference bias for all stimuli. . . . [T]he directionality preference observed by both reading groups was independent of the type of object portrayed in the stimuli (i.e., mobile object or landscape) and dependent on the directionality depicted in the image or video. As well, the magnitude of the bias demonstrated by both reading direction groups was larger for the dynamic stimuli compared to static stimuli, suggesting that dynamic stimuli should be used as a tool to magnify the occurrence of lateral biases.”

Edward A. Malone

Professional issues

A portrait of non-tenure-track faculty in technical and professional communication: Results of a pilot study

Meloncon, L., England, P., & Ilyasova, A. (2016). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 46(2), 206235. doi: 10.1177/0047281616633601

“[The authors] report the results of a pilot study that offers the field of technical and professional communication its first look at material working conditions of contingent faculty, such as course loads, compensation, and professional support. Findings include that contingent faculty are more enduring with stable full-time, multi-year contracts; they carry substantial teaching loads; and the majority are satisfied and happy in their present position, but half would prefer to be working on the tenure track.”

Anita Ford


The development and validation of the e-health competency scale: A measurement of self-efficacy, knowledge, usage, and motivation

Britt, R. K., & Hatten, K. N. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(2), 137–150. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1149621

“The purpose of this study is to construct and validate a scale of electronic health (e-health) communication competence. Based on a comprehensive review of e-health literature, this scale was constructed using two studies to gather data and validate the scale; four dimensions emerged in the final measurement: e-health self-efficacy, knowledge, usage, and motivation. Results suggest the e-health competence scale is useful for researchers to develop online health interventions and other domains of computer-mediated communication.”

Lyn Gattis

Perspectives on uncertainty for technical communication scholars

Walsh, L., & Walker, K. C. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(2), 71–86. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1150517

“Technical communication scholars have tended to treat uncertainty as a lack of certainty rather than as a diverse range of strategies for talking about risk. This review employs Goodnight’s argument spheres to comprehend treatments of uncertainty in technical communication and closely related fields. The advantages of such an approach are demonstrated via a reanalysis of a recent risk communication study. The review finishes by identifying hybrid forums as productive sites for future research.”

Lyn Gattis

Stasis in space! Viewing definitional conflicts surrounding the James Webb Space Telescope funding debate

Weber, R. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(2), 87–103. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1149619

“During 2010 and 2011, debate ensued over funding for National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This article uses stasis theory to analyze reports and statements produced by NASA, politicians, and scientists. The analysis reveals that an official report addresses stasis questions and guides further action. Additionally, varying perspectives on the telescope suggest that definitions play a crucial role in technology funding debates. This analysis demonstrates that stasis theory provides a productive tool for analyzing technology policy debates.”

Lyn Gattis

Science writing

Communicating a new consciousness: Countercultural print and the home birth movement in the 1970s

Kline, W. (2015). Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 89(3), 527–556. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2015.0065

“This essay analyzes the production of three influential home birth texts of the 1970s written by self-proclaimed lay midwives that helped to fuel and sustain a movement in alternative birth practices. As part of a countercultural lifestyle print culture, early ‘how-to’ books (Raven Lang’s The Birth Book, Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery) provided readers with vivid images and accounts in stark contrast to those of the sterile hospital delivery room. By the end of the decade, Rahima Baldwin’s more mainstream guidebook, Special Delivery, indicated an interest in translating home birth to a wider audience who did not necessarily identify as ‘countercultural.’ Lay midwives who were authors of radical print texts in the 1970s played an important role in reshaping expectations about the birth experience, suggesting a need to rethink how we define the counterculture and its legacies.”

Edward A. Malone

Constructing relationships between science and practice in the written science communication of the Washington State wine industry

Szymanski, E. A. (2016). Written Communication, 33(2), 184–215. doi: 10.1177/0741088316631528

“Even as deficit model science communication falls out of favor, few studies question how written science communication constructs relationships between science and industry. Here, [the author] investigate[s] how textual microprocesses relate scientific research to industry practice in the Washington State wine industry, helping (or hindering) winemakers and wine grape growers in making research relevant to their work. Critical discourse analysis of a corpus of wine science texts suggests that textual microprocesses continue to enact a deficit paradigm: scientists as knowledge producers and the industry public as knowledge deficient. Through its extension of features of scientific discourse, the industry-oriented literature abstracts research practices from context which could aid in drawing relationships with industry practices. In aggregate, these texts suggest an opportunity to increase research relevance to industry practice by writing the research–industry relationship differently, recontextualizing research in practice.”

Lyn Gattis

Disruption, spectacle, and gender in eighteenth-century technical communication

Milbourne, C. R. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(2), 121–136. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1148200

“This article examines how 18th-century technical communicators used spectacular science displays to critique audiences’ existing knowledge and advocate for alternative perspectives and technical practices. In addition to using disruptive rhetorical strategies such as amplification and contrary opposition, historical technical communicators heightened the wonder of their displays by disrupting audience expectations for the extended material and social scenes, including the objects, spaces, bodies, and cultural performances like gender that surrounded the demonstrations.”

Lyn Gattis

Mapping the contours of translation: Visualized un/certainties in the ozone hole controversy

Walker, K. C. (2016). Technical Communication Quarterly, 25(2), 104–120. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1149620

“This study of ozone-hole controversy demonstrates an approach to translation that captures material-discursive elements of environmental risk. By adapting actor–network theory’s notion of translation with Goodnight’s spheres of argument model, the author’s results reveal how uncertainties created sites for scientists and their images to perform in ways that visualized risk in public forums. Citizens then responded to these risks through amplified uncertainties and counterimages that envisioned a hole in the skin of the body public.”

Lyn Gattis


Masculinity and material culture in technological transitions: From letterpress to offset lithography, 1960s–1980s

Stein, J. A. (2016). Technology and Culture, 57(1), 24–53. doi: 10.1353/tech.2016.0010

“Between the 1960s and the 1980s the printing industry in advanced capitalist economies underwent dramatic technological change. While the transition from ‘hot metal’ compositing to computerized typesetting has been extensively analyzed, there was another transformation occurring simultaneously: in the pressroom, letterpress was gradually replaced by offset lithography. Many letterpress machinists retrained, moving from a heavy, manual technology (with an entrenched patriarchal culture) to a method that was faster and less physically taxing. However, unlike their compositor counterparts, the press-machinists’ transition involved a continuity of traditional masculine craft identities rather than a rupture associated with ‘deskilling.’ Intrinsic to this experience of technological change was a masculine embodiment that was attuned to and shaped by the materiality and aesthetics of printing technologies. This article establishes how masculine craft identities do not rely exclusively on skill-based mastery of traditional technologies, but also relate to other dimensions of technology, such as aesthetics, embodied ‘know-how,’ and the physicality of industrial machinery.”

Edward A. Malone


Usability definitions in a dynamically changing information environment

Chen, Y., Rorissa, A., & Germain, C. A. (2015). Libraries and the Academy, 15(4), 601–621. doi: 10.1353/pla.2015.0048

“The authors compared Web usability definitions, collected from library professionals at academic institutions of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) through online surveys in 2007 and 2012, to determine whether library practitioners’ perspectives had altered as information technologies evolved during this time. The authors applied three techniques of statistical data analysis—t-tests, cluster analyses, and the Mantel test—for comparisons. The results indicated significant increased emphases on the Interface/Design and Effectiveness attributes in the 2012 data set. This increase may be due to the rise in the use of mobile devices for information access, driving practitioners to place a stronger emphasis on these attributes.”

Edward A. Malone


How magnets attract and repel: Interessement in a technology commercialization competition

Spinuzzi, C., Nelson, S., Thomson, K. S., Lorenzini, F., French, R. A., Pogue, G., & London, N. (2016). Written Communication, 33(1), 3–41. doi: 10.1177/0741088315614566

“K6015, a South Korean firm seeking to commercialize its magnet technology in the US market, entered a technology commercialization training program structured as a competition. Through this program, K6015 (and others in the program) used several genres to progressively interest different sets of stakeholders. To understand how K6015 applied these genres, [the authors] analyze this case study in terms of interessement, a concept from actor-network theory, and standing sets of transformations, a related concept from workplace writing studies in which enacting a set of genres entails a controlled, progressive transformation of arguments. [The authors] examine the entire competition process, using K6015 and three other competitors to illustrate this process and to examine rhetorical transformations responding to different criteria. In enacting these standing sets of transformations, K6015 and other competitors transformed their innovations into commercialized technologies—and transformed themselves from innovators into entrepreneurs. Finally, [the authors] discuss implications for understanding entrepreneurship rhetorically.”

Lyn Gattis