67.1 February 2020

Book Reviews

By Jackie Damrau, Editor

Books Reviewed in This Issue


Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study 

by Ann Ruggles Gere, ed.

How to Market Books, 6th ed.

by Alison Baverstock and Susannah Bowen

The Copyeditor’s Handbook and Workbook: The Complete Set, 4th ed.

by Amy Einsohn, Marilyn Schwartz, and Erika Büky

Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like A Pro

by Dean Nelson

MediaWriting: Print, Broadcast, and Public Relations, 5th ed.

by Richard Whitaker, Ronald D. Smith, and Janet E. Ramsey

Pretense Design: Surface over Substance

by Per Mollerup

Language, Literacy, and Technology

by Richard Kern

Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media

by Tarleton Gillespie

Teaching Adult Learners: A Guide for Public Librarians

by Jessica A. Curtis

Design History Beyond the Canon

by Jennifer Kauffmann-Buhler, Victoria Rose Pass, and Christopher S. Wilson, eds.

What Game Are You Playing?: A Framework for Redefining Success and Achieving What Matters Most

by Robin Moriarty

Proposal Planning and Writing, 6th ed

by Jeremy T. Miner and Kelly C. Ball

Social Media Intelligence

by Wendy W. Moe and David A. Schweidel

How We Teach Science: What Changed, and Why it Matters

by John L. Rudolph

Techniques of Nonfiction: Tools of the Trade, 2nd ed.

by Steven Darian

User Experience Design: A Practical Introduction

by Gavin Allanwood and Peter Beare

Develop Your Presentation Skills: How to Inspire and Inform with Clarity and Confidence, 4th ed

by Theo Theobald

Type and Color: How to Design and Use Multicolored Typefaces

by Mark van Wageningen

Microsoft SharePoint for Dummies

by Rosemarie Withee and Ken Withee

Adobe Captivate 2019: The Essentials (“Skills and Drills” Learning)

by Kevin Siegel

Technolingualism: The Mind and The Machine

by James Pfrehm

Blogging for Dummies, 7th ed

by Amy Lupold Bair

Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming

by L. Taylor

The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling, 3rd ed

by Annette Simmons

Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study

Ann Ruggles Gere, ed. 2019. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. [ISBN 978-0-472-03738-4. 370 pages, including index. US$44.95 (softcover).]

Researchers, practitioners, and anyone interested in how people learn to write will find something of interest in Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study. Besides the book, of particular interest from the book is the friendly, well-executed companion website at https://www.developingwritersbook.org/ where you can find out what 169 students can tell you about writing. The site organizes its content around two revealing statements.

– Writing involves choices.
– Writing is social.

Gere describes her work in Developing Writers in Higher Education by considering how students learn to write so they can write effectively when they enter the work force. The students providing input now work as a software engineer at Google, child psychiatrist, and stay-at-home writer, to name a few examples appearing on the website. The students’ observations shed light on the focus of college student development and how students learn to write.

  • Developing Writers in Higher Education reflects the work done during a study of the experiences of 169 University of Michigan undergraduates. The book draws on an analysis of 322 surveys, 131 interviews, 2406 pieces of student writing, and related case studies. Some topics covered include how students react to feedback, students’ concepts of style and voice, and students’ understanding of digital writing. Two conclusions that Gere’s students made were: “…it is apparent that the largest impact on students’ writing development is not simply whether they choose to use instructor feedback, but how they engage with that feedback” (p. 50).
  • “…one powerful way to promote students’ development as writers is to teach them to seek out and critically engage with instructor feedback” (p. 69).

Here is what one student said about feedback (p. 34):

“I met with my [instructor], and she pushed me to reorganize my entire essay—completely switch up the structure. I had never done that. I felt like I was pouring my essay into a food processor and dumping the chopped-up bits onto a new page, trying earnestly to make sense of it all… Although I was initially resistant to rearranging my essay, pushing myself to try something completely different really strengthened my writing.”

As you can see, it is fun to see what students say about learning to write.

Jeanette Evans

Jeanette Evans is an STC Associate Fellow; active in the NEO community, currently serving on the newsletter committee; and is co-author of an Intercom column on emerging technologies in education. She holds an MS in technical communication management from Mercer University.

How to Market Books

Alison Baverstock and Susannah Bowen. 2019. 6th edition. Oxford, England: Routledge. [ISBN 978-1-138-59725-9. 482 pages, including index. $53.95 (softcover).]

How to Market Books is a feast—a banquet—a book filled with little gems. But, as with most gems, you sometimes must dig through lots of earth to find them. A key question about “any” book is: Who is the audience? In our case, this is people working for publishing houses. Still, it contains important information like market research and promotion (including copywriting), book formats and book design, and, of course, the reader that authors need to know.

Alison Baverstock and Susannah Bowen point out that “publishing companies used to be run by editors; today they are largely run by marketers” (p. 7). This reflects the idea that salespeople had a better idea than editors about which books would sell best. As a writer, you need to know such things since a writer’s job now is working more with the publisher (doing radio interviews, book signings).

How to Market Books examines key questions like: Where do readers first hear about books they buy? What media sources are most influential (p. 66)? Media sources include things like online forums, NPR (National Public Radio), interviews, and YouTube exposure (“If you can get a YouTuber or blogger interested in your product, it can literally mean millions of views”) [p. 21]. Media coverage is important for almost “every” kind of reader, whether they’re buyers in bookshops or academics (think journal reviews). Every community has its own on- and offline forums.

The authors emphasize that all printed media now have accompanying digital content. And that digital media is more often overshadowing print (p. 248); for example, The Atlantic, New Yorker, New York Review of Books, and Smithsonian.

There are some interesting notes on book formats. Hardbacks are the preferred format for a book with high potential, before bringing out a mass marketing edition (p. 26). It’s also the best format for getting books reviewed by the media. As an aside, they’re also more suitable as gifts–they’re much more memorable: The authors mention a bride who asked all the wedding guests to give the happy couple a copy of their favorite book with an inscription from the giver (p. 26).

As for paperbacks, some replicate the hardbacks but with a soft cover (trade paperback). And then, mass market paperbacks that are cheaper, lighter, and normally of lower paper quality. And finally, ebooks; readable on mobile phones and tablets. Surprisingly, it’s older readers who tend to buy more ebooks––perhaps because eyesight gets poorer with age, and devices let readers increase the font size (p. 62). While heavy book-buyers buy in all formats, they increasingly choose audiobooks (p. 64).

A few quibbles: The type size is a bit small. I realize it’s already a big book (almost 500 pages). Still, squinting makes things less inviting. Also, in places, the material tends to be Anglo- and Euro-centric. How to Market Books needs more U.S. material if the authors want to appeal to American readers (pp. 60 ff).

Steven Darian

Steven Darian is an STC Fellow and retired from Rutgers University, where he taught business and technical writing as well as other language-related courses. He also taught management and business communications courses in five countries. Steven’s book, “Technique in Nonfiction: The Tools of the Trade” (2019), is now in its 2nd edition.

The Copyeditor’s Handbook and Workbook: The Complete Set

Amy Einsohn, Marilyn Schwartz, and Erika Bűky. 2019. 4th ed. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. [ISBN 978-0-520-30667-7. 880 pages, including index. US$59.95 (softcover).]

Since it first appeared in 2000, The Copyeditor’s Handbook has established itself as an indispensable classic. Filled with sound advice and useful tips on every aspect of copyediting, it has long been the go-to guide for both newbies breaking into the profession and experienced hands seeking to expand their skills.

While this new edition preserves everything that was great about earlier editions, it has been thoroughly expanded and updated to meet the needs of those working in today’s ever evolving copyediting and publishing environment. Enough new material was developed by an expanded editorial team to warrant issuing the revised work as a two-volume set, The Copyeditor’s Handbook and The Copyeditor’s Workbook. While the two books may be purchased separately, they are closely integrated and really work best as a set. Even those who have an earlier edition of the Handbook will want to upgrade to the complete set.

Like earlier editions, the Handbook starts with a broad overview of what copyeditors do and discusses the profession’s roles, responsibilities, and protocols. It moves on to give thorough coverage to the thousands of details the copyeditor must attend to—markup, adherence to house style, grammar and usage, and the rest—and rounds off by discussing numerous issues not covered elsewhere: accessibility, plain language compliance, global English, and much more.

Throughout, the work gives best-practices advice where judgment calls are required, and on the soft skills of writing queries and balancing the sometimes-conflicting viewpoints of authors and publishers.

The Handbook cites the recommendations of the latest style and usage guides and, where needed, discusses the differences in those recommendations. While continuing to cover traditional hard-copy markup, it fully supports the newer processes of on-screen editing. It also covers the tremendous growth in resources such as online dictionaries that are now available to copyeditors to aid them in their work.

The Workbook contains forty skill-building exercises, chosen to help you hone your editorial skills and judgment over a full range of tasks from catching simple errors to straightening out tortured syntax to enforcing bias-free language. The answer keys are detailed, and fully commented to provide the reasoning behind the choices made; it is much as if you were looking over a shoulder and listening to the thought processes of an experienced copyeditor as she does her work. The exercises may be done as hard copy but are also available as downloadable files so they can be done onscreen.

The work is very well indexed, making certain items easy to locate. The work also includes a rich collection of useful back matter—glossaries of copyediting and grammar terms, and an extensive annotated bibliography of useful references to style manuals, dictionaries, usage guides, organizations, and more. Working copyeditors will especially appreciate the handy customizable checklist of common editorial choices for recording style preferences for use with their projects.

Patrick Lufkin

Patrick Lufkin is an STC Fellow with experience in computer documentation, newsletter production, and public relations. He reads widely in science, history, and current affairs, as well as on writing and editing. He chairs the Gordon Scholarship for technical communication and co-chairs the Northern California technical communication competition.

Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like A Pro

Dean Nelson. 2019. New York, NY: HarperPerennial. [ISBN 978-0-06-282520-9. 380 pages. US$16.99 (softcover).]

Dean Nelson takes the reader through the entire interview process, from deciding whom to interview to following up after writing your article to ensure accurate quotes. In between, we learn about preparing for the interview, structuring questions, handling difficult interviewees or topics, taking notes and recording your discussion, as well as different types of interviews: on the record, off the record, on background and not for attribution. He provides helpful tips and examples from his own and his students’ work on each of these topics. Besides interviewing scores of people in the US, Nelson has also worked with interpreters in far-flung locales—a detail the translator half of my brain found particularly interesting.

Beyond hearing about Nelson’s own advice and experience, we also learn how other journalists approach these issues—and sometimes contradict his advice. For example, Nelson writes a structured list of questions before an interview, but he also quotes a colleague who only plans his first question and leaves the rest open-ended. Similarly, while emphasizing the importance of having a record of the interviewee’s answers, Nelson discusses various approaches to doing so—from two voice recorders plus handwritten notes to notes only. He recommends recording plus notes, to guard against equipment failure or mishearing/incorrectly writing down a quote.

Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like A Pro includes case studies—excerpts of interviews conducted by famous journalists—with Nelson’s commentary on these. While most are examples of how to do it well, the book concludes with an interview done badly, again with comments about what went wrong and why. In this case, the interview turned into an argument between interviewer and celebrity guest. There may be people whose views you find so repugnant that you do not want to talk to them. That’s fine, Nelson says, but you need to consider beforehand: “What line will you not cross?” (p. 356).

Many of the Nelson’s own experiences involve people who are not used to speaking to the media. You may need to ask painful questions, but you also must be a mensch (a good person), as we say in Brooklyn. “Your own humanity matters as much as the humanity of your sources,” Nelson reminds us (p. 45). This may mean reminding non-celebrities that anything they tell you may be published. While journalists often intrude in ordinary people’s lives, they may also help them cope with traumatic experiences. Nelson reminds us: “The point is that you asked, you listened, and you acknowledged that their voices mattered” (p. 375).

Barbara Jungwirth

Barbara Jungwirth writes about medical topics (www.bjungwirth.com) and translates medical and technical documents from German into English (www.reliable-translations.com). She has written for print and online media since her high school days and majored in media studies. You can find her on Twitter at @bjungwirthNY.

MediaWriting: Print, Broadcast, and Public Relations

2019. Richard Whitaker, Ronald D. Smith, and Janet E. Ramsey. 2019. 5th ed. New York, NY: Routledge. [ISBN 978-1-138-34178-4. 402 pages, including index. US$84.95 (softcover).]

Technical communicators may not think that we write for the public eye, as will future reporters, announcers, and speech writers-the intended audience of MediaWriting: Print, Broadcast, and Public Relations. But that assumption would be wrong. Our manuals may travel around the world and be translated into many languages. Training material for salespersons and technicians may contain a typo or pronoun that is offensive. And what about those blog articles we are tasked to quickly produce, that speed away faster than any printed word?

This fifth edition is worth its weight in gold in 2019 where political correctness (PC) outweighs all other media writing facets; where the allegation of Fake News out-trumps even plagiarism; where today’s mantra is to avoid offense. Surprisingly, “fake news” has been around since the thirteenth century B.C., when MediaWriting claims generals over-reported their successes with victory scenes carved on temples and monuments.

Wisely, the authors have covered the basics first. Matter of fact, I’m the one guilty of almost skipping chapter 2 on Fundamentals of Writing and Editing. Good thing I didn’t. I found out that media writing students are being taught to communicate rather than document, as were the old-timers. This chapter alone could foster better understanding in today’s workplace. Writing by the new generation will seem less amateurish; and we can understand why a new person might at first glance assume we are old fogies.

“How To” boxes and “It Happened to Me:” vignettes in this reference book are where the rubber (and theory) meets the road. The student learns the cost of a misplaced comma ($5 million) or witnesses the cutting of content in the newsroom (when an accident upsets a planned newscast) and comes to appreciate the value of limited space and time. Discussion questions and exercises follow each of the sixteen chapters. Topics covered within MediaWriting include crafting leads, legal considerations, ethical questions, interviewing and using quotations, guidelines for creating various types of writing for reporting, publicity releases, and speeches-skill sets every technical communicator will not mind learning about or brushing up on, even mid-career.

I was especially interested to learn more about media writing as an author who must market my own books. I found the text easy to read, with content entertaining and informative. I expect to use what it teaches when I speak in person, on radio or TV broadcasts, and through the latest trend of podcasts. We technical communicators can always pass along our legacy by sharing years of expertise with others, in print or through the spoken word.

Donna Ford

Donna Ford has been an STC member, joining the Connecticut chapter in 1990 and serving on her local board for many years. She has been a technical writer since 1987 in the hardware, software, and government healthcare industries. Donna holds a certificate in Information Design from Bentley College. She also reviews books online for the US Review of Books.

Pretense Design: Surface over Substance

Per Mollerup. 2019. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. [ISBN 978-0-262-03948-2. 216 pages, including index. US$32.95.]

Danish designer Per Mollerup is at his best when he writes straightforwardly, as when he defines the central point of Pretense Design: “Pretense design pretends to be something it is not … . All thinking builds on concepts; design thinking needs the concept of pretense design. We think much more clearly about the pretense design category when it has a name” (p. 15).

The chapter “Object Language” outlines the author’s analysis of pretense design, “which in some way or another misrepresents its true nature in order to impress somebody” (p. 56). He becomes uncharacteristically entangled in a maze of seven dimensions: truth-bending levels (“the truth edited, the truth on standby, and the truth suspended”), objectives, modes, perceptibility, roles, communication elements, and meanings. His several tables help show relationships between dimensions but also suggest that the whole scheme is convoluted.

Fortunately, Mollerup organizes his four central chapters simply, according to the pretense design objectives. It’s great fun to sprint through these chapters, taking in the strikingly colored photographs (roughly half of the book) that illustrate beautification, amusement, substitution, and deception.

We see beautification heralded in ads for “body paint” sold by Clairol and Estée Lauder. Trompe-l’œil used to make a low ceiling appear tall, a Chinese town built to emulate a British market town, and faux wooden panels on a Chrysler station wagon illustrate amusement. Display dishes in a Japanese restaurant show substitution. And we see deception at work in naval defensive camouflage and wildfowl decoys.

Mollerup’s analysis seems valid in that he alerts us to realities beyond what we see. Overall, however, his view is limited and can itself be deceiving, especially with beautification. Seeing a beautified object as “the truth edited” seems shortsighted if we look more broadly and see its beauty to be part and parcel of the object. Mollerup’s approach does nothing at all to help us understand and appreciate the achievement of, for example, a designer such as Lisa Carney (at https://www.lisacarney.com/), whose astounding movie posters expand on simple objects through layers of beauty to become new objects that inspire us.

I definitely have mixed feelings about the index. It’s fully detailed, but maybe overly detailed in its referencing every object mentioned in the book. Its structure of a single running list is simple, but that design eliminates any sense of hierarchy, so that tattoos (discussed in just one paragraph) seems as significant as camouflage (a main subject).

Mollerup has indeed contributed in giving a name to a cluster of strategies ubiquitous in life and art. We now must see if the naming of “pretense design” leads to more rewarding insights for graphic designers and technical communicators.

Avon J. Murphy

Avon J. Murphy is an STC Fellow and technical editor in western Washington. A retired college professor and government writer, he is a contractor and principal in Murphy Editing and Writing Services, specializing in computer and Web technologies. Avon served as book review editor for Technical Communication for 17 years.

Language, Literacy, and Technology

Richard Kern. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. [ISBN 978-1-107-64285-0. 292 pages, including index. US31.99 (softcover).]

In Language, Literacy, and Technology, Richard Kern analyzes historical and emerging forms of literacy as the basis for establishing a “relational pedagogy” of “semiotic awareness” (p. 258). He expands the traditional definition of literacy by subsuming it within the broader semiotic principle that meaning arises from the relationship between all aspects of a communication: not only words but also the medium or material employed (clay, paper, text message), the method or technology used (handwriting, printing, sign language, imagery), and the context within which the message is interpreted.

Kern derives five basic pedagogical principles from his analysis. First, “Meanings are situated and relational, not autonomous,” so that what “x” means depends on the context: 2×2=4 vs. “X marks the spot” (p. 222). Second, language and literacy require both convention and invention, a shared baseline for mutual understanding and the ability to deviate from it as situations require or opportunities arise (for instance, standard English vs. texting abbreviations such as “CU” for “see you”). Third, the medium matters—audiences respond differently to the same content presented in different ways, such as reading a book rather than watching a video of the same topic. Fourth, texts are always multimodal, so we must consider the relations between all aspects of the medium, “linguistic and non-linguistic,” when we process meaning (p. 246). Finally, understanding mediation reveals how texts influence our identities, enabling us to exert greater control in defining our own selves.

This expanded pedagogy involves the student in the “design of meaning”—using preexisting designs or texts to create transformed or redesigned meanings that can be inferred by the audience; and doing so with full semiotic awareness or “reflective consciousness” of how all aspects of the communication, including the non-verbal and the material, interact to “mediate and transform meaning” (pp. 2, 234).

As such, Kern’s pedagogy broadens and updates traditional approaches to designing meaning. From the Sumerians to text messaging the same basic ingredients of communication—medium (material embodiment of the message), method (technology or form of the message), and meaning (context or recovery of authorial intention)—are always present. New technologies do not replace the old, they “co-evolve and remediate one another” by imposing or enabling inventive possibilities: the smart phone’s small keyboard and the constrained messaging space lead to innovative abbreviations such as “h8” for “hate” and emojis for words (p. 220). The new technology uses both conventional English words and the creative redesign of their signifiers, “recycling old materials in fresh ways” (p. 34).

As an example, Kern’s pedagogy would situate Shakespeare’s plays within a single semiotic system
that integrates the underlying, baseline script with all past and future production and interpretation, in whatever semiotic form the works are communicated. By developing a practical relational framework,
Kern provides instructors with a tool immediately useful for teaching literacy as the functional semiotic awareness demanded by our increasingly multimodal forms of communication.

Donald R. Riccomini

Donald R. Riccomini is an STC member and a senior lecturer in English at Santa Clara University, where he specializes in teaching engineering and technical communications. He previously spent twenty-three years in high technology as a technical writer, engineer, and manager in semiconductors, instrumentation, and server development.

Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media

Tarleton Gillespie. 2018. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. [ISBN 978-0-300-17313-0. 304 pages, including index. US$30.00.]

Tarleton Gillespie’s Custodians of the Internet: platforms, content moderation, and the hidden decisions that shape social media provides an in-depth demolition of the illusion that is platform neutrality. His detail, breadth, and depth are amazing and refreshing. His tact and tenor are collegial, and he presents his case not with any joy in destruction or “I told you so” tone; rather, it’s almost as if he is sorry to disappoint believers in technological neutrality that the myth isn’t real.

As such, the book is more likely to change readers’ minds than any heated water cooler conversation or Internet comment exchange. Gillespie is neither a pundit nor evangelist; instead, his approach to platforms, and their bias, is overwhelmingly practical and civil. This civility helps mirror one clear goal, to help address a core problem: How do we establish, foster, and maintain civil discourse across an array of Internet-based platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and hundreds of others?

Gillespie covers legal liabilities and corporate responsibilities for platforms. His close readings and analyses of platform community guidelines are thoughtful and illuminating. Gillespie pairs his critique and problem identification with possible solutions, and he offers three possible approaches in his fourth chapter. Gillespie also scales from “community guidelines” and the general lack of corporate accountability for posts made to their sites (legal loopholes for companies to not be held accountable for user content unless a complaint is filed) down to the grind of reviewing content at an individual level in Chapter 5: The Human Labor of Moderation.

One of Custodians’ central values, particularly for professionals and researchers working in or with technology and platforms, is its detailed and documented discussion. While much of what Gillespie covers is basic for working professionals, Custodians can work as a bridge with non-experts, clients, or administrators considering adopting a new technology or platform. This book could be something to help them better understand, in a voice that is not yours, some of the complexities and challenges involved in the work. Gillespie and his book can operate as an external consultant or expert who can write and speak in a voice and tone that his non-expert audience respects and understands.

For university courses, Custodians of the Internet is ideally suited for undergraduate or graduate students given the book’s readability and conceptual accessibility. These same traits make it a great entry point for audiences who adhere to the faith that technology cannot be biased, replicate bias, or foster structural racism. For faculty and staff reading groups or professional development, this book offers a pleasant, engaging read as well as relevant content. This is a well-written, accessible, and engaging read on one of the Internet’s most pervasive problems; it is worth buying and reading.

Gregory Zobel

Gregory Zobel is an associate professor of Educational Technology at Western Oregon University.

Teaching Adult Learners: A Guide for Public Librarians

Jessica A. Curtis. 2019. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. [ISBN 978-1-4408-6544-2. 134 pages, including index. US$55.00 (softcover).]

Jessica Curtis’ Teaching Adult Learners: A Guide for Public Librarians is a practitioner-geared instruction manual for public librarians who want to engage adult patrons. Technical communicators can apply this book’s practical advice for engaging a varied audience in a variety of contexts.

She emphasizes the role of instruction in public libraries and the need to educate adults effectively. In an online world, libraries must increase technology literacy to provide access to electronic resources, but they must also focus on the community, tailoring adult education programs to local problems and patrons. Curtis explains, “Each library proves their worth to the public as a learning hub by taking an active role in the dissemination of information and applicable skills. They can serve a strong community role by being a technology hub and tool-giver, providing what users need when they need it” (p. 6).

Curtis introduces common populations and situations that arise in the library and practical ways to engage each patron in active and passive learning situations. There are practical examples of active instruction (formal classes) and passive instruction, such as displays and handouts that connect patrons with the content they need. For example, active instruction for “New Adult” patrons might include Adulting 101 classes on life skills topics like bill paying and cooking, while passive instruction might include creating a display of similar skill books near the fiction shelves these patrons frequent (p. 17). For technology users, classes on common software are popular, but you can also post frequently asked questions or instructions in the locations that patrons need them, such as by the printer or copier (p. 11).

Curtis also provides an overview of the three adult learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/mechanical (p. 42). Visual learners learn by seeing; auditory learners, by hearing; mechanical learners, by doing. She encourages considering these learning styles in library presentations and materials to engage library patrons, but technical communicators can also apply this strategy to reach their users. For visual learners, include images such as graphs, videos, or handouts they can refer to later (p. 43). For auditory learners, make sure to explain steps out loud and paraphrase presentation content as you go along (p. 44). For mechanical learners, provide writing materials for note-taking, and, when possible, encourage them to follow along on a device (p. 46). Keeping all three learning styles in mind when planning a presentation will help you reach more users. In online materials, links to instructional videos and handouts provide the most coverage for the three learning styles.

Teaching Adult Learners is a practical guide for public librarians, but many of its concepts apply to technical communication. The book’s short chapters are well-organized and succinct, while still being detailed enough to give illustrative scenarios and tips. Each chapter’s bibliography points readers in the right direction if they want to dive into a specific topic more. The main takeaway is this: your users are diverse in their goals and their learning styles, so a one-note approach will not reach them all. For maximum learning, you need to provide more than one way for users to engage with your content.

I recommend Teaching Adult Learners to librarians and anyone interested in library science or community engagement projects. Additionally, technical communicators can read this for a brief introduction to adult learning styles and how to create content that teaches them best.

Bonnie Winstel

Bonnie Winstel is the product specialist for a small software company in Huntsville, Alabama. She received her master’s degree in English and Technical Communication at the University of Alabama-Huntsville in 2013.

Design History Beyond the Canon

Jennifer Kauffmann-Buhler, Victoria Rose Pass, and Christopher S. Wilson, eds. 2019. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Visual Arts. [ISBN 978-1-350-05158-4. 246 pages, including index. US$114.00.]

The study of design history is a relatively new field, with the first 20–30 years of its development being focused on researching, understanding, and establishing a canon. The next steps, as prescribed by many leading design historians, is to explore design history beyond this canon, to push the boundaries and to perhaps even reimagine what the canon looks like. Design History Beyond the Canon does just that. Editors Jennifer Kauffmann-Buhler, Victoria Rose Pass, and Christopher Wilson bring together eleven essays that will challenge readers and their understanding of the canon.

This book and its essays are the result of a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded summer institute titled “Teaching the History of Modern Design: The Canon and Beyond,” which brought together people of various backgrounds who all teach design history. One problem with teaching design history in the United States is that there are no dedicated programs of study for PhDs in the field; as a result instructors and design historians tend to come from all over, and art historians as well as design practitioners are often conscripted to teach design history at universities, with little or no formal training in the instruction of design history or design history itself. The institute included various sessions which workshopped curriculum development and pedagogical issues. Additionally, sessions were held that challenged traditional ideas about design history, its instruction and curated objects that tend to “favor objects that were rare and expensive over those that were ordinary and affordable” (pp. xx–xxi). The resulting essays are an excellent reflection of the institute’s success and outcomes.

The essays presented in Design History Beyond the Canon are divided into three sections: Users/Consumers, Intermediaries, and Designers. An essay titled “Kul’ttovary: Bringing culture into the Soviet home” is an excellent example of exploring design history that is ordinary and affordable, while “Confronting racial stereotypes in graphic design history” explores racial stereotypes, but also presents ideas on how to discuss race in the design history classroom and integrate it into the curriculum. Finally, “CLOTHES CLOTHES CLOTHES PUNK PUNK PUNK WOMEN WOMEN WOMEN” challenges the current accepted canon that implies men were leaders in the field of punk fashion, placing instead women at the forefront of the groundbreaking subcultural movement.

Design History Beyond the Canon is easily one of the best design history books I have read this year. As a design historian and professor of design history, I do consume many design history books throughout the year. This is a collection of seemingly unrelated essays with their only link being that they all explore design history beyond the canon. The editors bring the essays together beautifully; the Forward and Introduction serve the collection well, and set a stage for reading the individual essays with an understanding of how they all came together. Each essay is thought provoking, revealing insight that is not found in average design history textbooks. This is the design history we need.

Amanda Horton

Amanda Horton holds an MFA in Design and currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Central Oklahoma in the areas of design history, theory, and criticism. Ms. Horton is also the director of the Design History Minor at UCO.

What Game Are You Playing?: A Framework for Redefining Success and Achieving What Matters Most

Robin Moriarty. 2019. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press. [ISBN 978-1-62634-653-6. 168 pages. US$20.95.]

Are you satisfied with where you are in life? Is the game you’re playing satisfying to you?

When I first received What Game Are You Playing?: A Framework for Redefining Success and Achieving What Matters Most to review, I was thinking that I don’t play games at work. Neither do I play “games” outside of work. However, I became intrigued with what Robin Moriarty was presenting when I read: “So when you start trying to do something different, both you and others around you feel uncomfortable and struggle; in many ways, that discomfort is what pulls you back to the status quo. It’s what pulls us back to acting ‘normal,’ and it’s what keeps us doing what is expected instead of branching out to do something different” (p.7).

Moriarty points out that when we talk about our lives, we say how busy we are and most of us are exhausted by the end of each day. We often wonder what the objective is of the so-called busyness. So, she then suggests we reflect on whom we’re trying to please and how we’re trying to do so. Also, she suggests that we don’t measure ourselves against an externally imposed timeline. For example, we shouldn’t think we should be married by a certain age or hold a certain position by a certain age. However, we should focus on what brings us joy and not compare ourselves with others.

I found it helpful to first create a time map of my week and evaluate what my usual day looks like. For me, my work week is generally the same schedule. However, my weekends consist of a variety of activities. When I completed the time map of my week, I was surprised about how little free time I have.

I then continued reflecting on the four questions that she suggests are important that we take the time to ask: What is the objective? What are the obstacles? How do you play? How do you keep score? This four-question process allows you to start by thinking about your everyday life.

She includes different “games” people play: for example, maximize the free time, experience it all, build for the next generation, creativity and expression, and create a calm environment.

It is always good to step back and reflect on our goals and our schedules to assess if we need to adjust our career or personal goals. I found Moriarty’s four questions to be helpful. Personally, I evaluate my goals quarterly at the change of the season. Also, I keep long-range (five-year) goals in place, as I find it helpful to look beyond the typical annual assessment.

To download a free excerpt of What Game Are You Playing? and take a quiz, How Gutsy Are You?, visit Moriarty’s website: whatgameareyouplaying.net.

Rhonda Lunemann

Rhonda Lunemann is a technical writer with Siemens Digital Industry Software, a senior member and serves on the Program Committee of STC’s Twin Cities Chapter, and a member of the MN (Minnesota) Bot Makers.

Proposal Planning and Writing

Jeremy T. Miner and Kelly C. Ball. 2019. 6th ed. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC. [ISBN 978-1-4408-6332-5. 292 pages, including index. US$109.00.]

Proposal Planning and Writing “is a comprehensive reference source for grantseekers” and “comprehensive” is indeed the correct descriptor (p. vii). This book provides a holistic method for finding, developing, writing, and revising proposals. While one would be well-served by reading this text from cover to cover, the abundance of useful information throughout this book may be even more useful if read step-by-step during the proposal planning and writing process.

Miner and Ball break this book into four distinct parts, which are, in turn, composed of chapters. In Part I: Finding Sponsors and Planning Proposals, readers are introduced to grantseeking, guided through finding private and public funds, and instructed how to gather essential information that is not listed in requests for proposals by contacting past grant winners, reviewers, and program managers. Part II: Writing Private Foundation and Corporation Proposals and Part III: Writing Government Proposals details the complex process of writing proposals to private and government entities, respectively. Part IV: The Final Steps gives helpful writing and editing tips that are applicable to all proposal documentation, which will be of interest to technical communicators, and it also explains what to do after a proposal is submitted.

For each chapter, the writers provide helpful subsections, such as the purpose of the proposal section, key questions, writing tips, rejection reasons, “grant gaffes,” and starter sentences. These subsections are supplemented with helpful charts and images called “Exhibits,” as well as copious examples and sample documentation to show readers what the writers’ methods look like in practice and how the methods can be modified to fit different rhetorical situations and for different funding entities.

While there are not many flaws in Proposal Planning and Writing, the writers are occasionally too rigid with their tips and instructions. For instance, they offer a maxim for heading systems in Chapter 16, stating that “Level one headings should be centered, sans serif typeface (e.g., Arial), all capital letters, and 12-point boldface font …” (p. 248). If a reader unwittingly followed this maxim for a request for proposal that directs writers to use only specific fonts like Times New Roman throughout the proposal, the proposal would be non-compliant and possibly returned without review. Also, a section with full proposal examples (comparable to the letter proposal examples found in Chapter 6) from the largest funding entities like the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and NASA would be helpful.

Overall, Miner and Ball provide readers with an easy-to-use reference text for understanding an otherwise confusing process that is now essential for many technical communicators, university researchers looking to advance their careers, and organizations trying to remain financially viable.

Dylan Schrader

Dylan Schrader is a proposal developer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he also earned an MA in Professional Communication.

Social Media Intelligence

Wendy W. Moe and David A. Schweidel. 2019. Cambridge University Press. [ISBN 978-1-108-70802-9. 194 pages, including index. US$39.99 (softcover).]

Social media has become an indispensable part of everyday life for millions of people all over the world. From social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram, to online reviews on sites like Yelp or Amazon, it’s hard to escape the opinions of our friends and neighbors about the goods and services they consume. Those with a vested interest in consumer feedback, such as business owners, have long been able to monitor the opinions of their customers, but, according to the authors of Social Media Intelligence, social media monitoring only describes what has already happened. They propose, instead, “social media intelligence,” which “links social media data and metrics to strategic decisions and performance” and can guide an organization’s next steps in terms of its social media marketing (p. ix).

Social Media Intelligence is organized into four parts: Foundations, Online Opinion or Online Noise, Conversational Trends, and Social Media Intelligence. The book includes an extensive index that can aid the reader in navigating the text. Each of the eleven chapters ends with a list of sources used in the text which also serves to help readers locate more information on the covered topics. The book’s layout is clear and easy to read; its few diagrams are simple, and the information illustrated is easily conveyed.

Social Media Intelligence starts with the basics of social media marketing by providing insight into the motivation behind online postings before exploring how the reader might sort through “online chatter” to extract real, quality data from the data mined in online analytics. Finally, the authors propose key steps in moving from the less effective social media monitoring to a state of true social media intelligence: when one can effectively utilize online feedback and incorporate it into an organization’s business model.

The social media world is constantly and rapidly evolving. Originally published in 2014, this paperback version was released in 2019. In this time, there inevitably have been important updates in research that could make data presented in this text seem dated considering the topic’s fast-paced nature. And while the concepts presented here are of interest to academics and laypeople alike, the book can read like a compilation of academic papers with its no-frills formatting and lack of eye-catching designs and illustrations. While this simple layout is common in academic journals, the authors of Social Media Intelligence might consider more visually stimulating formatting for future editions if they wish to appeal to a broader audience and perhaps to justify its price tag.

Social Media Intelligence is a thorough, well-researched exploration of what motivates someone to post an online review and how interested parties might use intelligently this feedback to guide their organization in making strategic and well-informed decisions.

Bryant Smith

Bryant Smith is Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Literature at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He has written book reviews for Hispania and The NECTFL Review.

How We Teach Science: What Changed, and Why it Matters

John L. Rudolph. 2019. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [ISBN 978-0-674-91934-1. 308 pages, including index. US$35.00.]

In this well researched and informative book, John Rudolph, a former high school science teacher, and now a university professor specializing in science education, shows that what goes on, or should go on, in the American high school science classroom has been the subject of vigorous debate ever since science first became a taught subject in the 1880s.

Over the years, a long string of science educators, policy makers, and reformers have championed one method or another for conveying science to young students. Rudolph carefully chronicles the succession of methods, the personalities and agendas behind them, the arguments made, and how the methods succeeded or fell short, to be replaced by something else.

Among the major methods Rudolph covers are the laboratory method (which emphasized laboratory skills), the scientific method (which taught that science followed a five-step process for solving problems), and the science as inquiry method (which sought to correct inadequate portrayals of scientific practice). He also covers several ambitious initiatives intended to leverage the science classroom to meet various societal challenges—wars hot and cold, the space race, economic competitiveness—or further institutional objectives such as bolstering public support for institutional science.

Lest one think this is so much “inside baseball,” it turns out that what happens in the high school science classroom matters a great deal.

Most people get their first—and often only—exposure to science in high school and that experience shapes their impression of the scientific project for the rest of their lives. To make the problem more daunting, much is asked of high school science. In the short time allotted, it is expected to engage student interest, cover an ever-expanding volume of science content (what is known about the natural world), convey science practice (the methods scientists use to discover, establish, and extend scientific knowledge), produce scientifically literate citizens, meet the needs of those preparing for careers, and more. Privileging any of these concerns often means shortchanging others, prompting new calls for reform.

Rudolph notes that ambitious reform initiatives, no matter how well conceived, tend to run aground in the classroom, where they must be implemented by existing instructors (with their own ideas of what works for them), external constraints, and students of differing acuities and interests.

Rudolph does not arrive at any final answers to how science should be taught, but he does offer well-reasoned suggestions as to where we should be headed. Among other things, to succeed a plan should include better teacher preparation and take a balanced approach that addresses not just social and institutional agendas, but helps students see science as relevant to their own lives.

Anyone interested in science education and public policy should find much of value in How We Teach Science: What Changed, and Why it Matters. No program for reshaping science teaching should be attempted without a solid knowledge of what has gone before. For that knowledge, you are unlikely to find a better source than Rudolph’s book.

Patrick Lufkin

Patrick Lufkin is an STC Fellow with experience in computer documentation, newsletter production, and public relations. He reads widely in science, history, and current affairs, as well as on writing and editing. He chairs the Gordon Scholarship for technical communication and co-chairs the Northern California technical communication competition.

Techniques of Nonfiction: Tools of the Trade

Steven Darian. 2019. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Linus Learning. [ISBN 978-1-6077-839-8. 338 pages, including index. US$20.00 (softcover).]

Steven Darian’s taxonomy of techniques and tools is a delight to read for the language lover, a clear yet eloquent guide for the new or established writer, and a remarkable work for wordsmiths at all levels who want to season their craft with the spice of elegance as easy to hear as it is to read.

I have known Steven Darian for nearly 50 years—as my first-year writing teacher in college, my creative writing teacher and lifelong mentor. It was he who taught me many of the techniques appearing in this text, and his approach to writing, perhaps influenced by his background in Applied Linguistics, was so unique that it has influenced my writing for all these years. I taught from Tools in both my Feature Writing class and my Copyediting class in Journalism at the University of Rhode Island where I taught for 37 years.

What the students loved about the Techniques of Nonfiction: Tools of the Trade was that it is NOT a grammar guide (although one student confessed to me she finally understood the use of the semi-colon). Instead, they understood “audience.” That the reason to write well and clearly was not that instructors wished to torture them with rules, but rather that there were actually “people” on the other side of their writing. People who appreciate eloquence and style. The abundance of examples illustrates Darian’s concepts. The students were not used to a text that “showed” them what to do instead of “telling” them what to do. By the end of the semester, I began to read writing with style and grace from the students.

The second edition includes new material in Chapters 9 and 10; in fact, all the chapters shine with new examples and new concepts. I have the distinct feeling that Darian lives this text, always reading for techniques, always listening carefully in conversations…and always thinking about his work. As long as I have known Darian, he has delighted in language play. Writers are lucky to have this book as it will allow them to experiment, to write in a whole different way, and to learn to break the rules with panache.

If the book has a flaw, it lies in an embarrassment of riches. There are a few sections where there are “too” many examples. Where the reader says “OK, I get it. Enough already.” But even in these moments, Darian’s enthusiasm is infectious, and annoyance fades quickly.

Although I have written about the book’s use for students, it is a gem for those adults who discover their job requires much more writing than they expected. Or for the retiree who has decided to write memoir. I do love Techniques of Nonfiction and plan to use it in the private tutoring I will be offering soon. I believe this is a book that will do well, given its variety of techniques and examples, its humor, and its voice—a conversational one. A voice as though Darian is just over your shoulder, saying “Now here’s a place where you might want to …” And—you will.

Celest Martin

Celest Martin is a professor emeritus at the University of Rhode Island. She has taught over 33 writing courses, several journalism and disability studies courses. Celest’s great love is creative nonfiction. Since she retired in 2016, Celest is beginning a private tutoring business.

User Experience Design: A Practical Introduction

Gavin Allanwood and Peter Beare. 2019. London, England: Bloomsbury Visual Arts. [ISBN 978-1-350-02170-9. 162 pages, including index. US$29.95 (softcover).]

User Experience Design: A Practical Introduction’s name may deceive readers into assuming this is a simple usability primer, however this is not at all the case. From the first pages of the introduction to the last chapter, Gavin Allanwood and Peter Beare give the reader a thorough, crisply designed, appropriately detailed, and one could reasonably argue, surprisingly playful launch into a complex, multidisciplinary field.

If you are an experienced hand at user experience (UX), your first impression may well be that this is yet another bland addition to the library shelf. But when you put yourself in the seat of the intended reader (one of the authors’ primary goals), it’s clear the authors practice what they preach. Not only have they met the goals of usability, but they have done so with a clarity and warmth often lacking in introductory texts.

User Experience Design is organized into six chapters covering different UX design aspects. The two chapters focusing on the design process and design constraints clearly emphasize the interdisciplinarity of the field. There are also 12 detailed hands-on activities that give readers an opportunity to apply the information described in each chapter. Activities are well-designed and ask the reader to consider topics such as Gestalt theory, user journeys, and semiotics when creating a pleasing, effective user experience. These activities may be too extensive for classroom-based instruction, but they are an excellent way to apply the theories and principles laid out in each chapter.

Although this book is aimed at novices, practitioners and academics in the UX field will find the discussions of aesthetics, semantic design, and ideation insightful and nicely articulated. For example, in the chapter on users, Allanwood and Beare explain how errors in design “are more often the result of a design that misleads, confuses, or distracts” and then go on to categorize and explain the causes and possible solutions from a UX perspective (p. 32).

As one might expect from a UX book, User Experience Design offers a visually and textually accessible work. Allanwood and Beare provide a useful glossary and a brief description of books they cite and recommend as additional reading for those interested in learning more about the subject. The tactile nature of the quality paper, the relaxing typeface and spacious layout, the considerate tone of the text along with plenty of real-world examples and illustrations all combine into a truly usable and inviting book.

Lynne Cooke

Lynne Cooke is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University where she teaches courses in technical communication, digital writing, and usability. She has presented at several STC conferences and has published two articles on eye tracking in STC’s Technical Communication journal.

Develop Your Presentation Skills: How to Inspire and Inform with Clarity and Confidence

Theo Theobald. 2019. 4th ed. London, England: Kogan Page. [ISBN 978-0-7494-8635-8. 170 pages. US$14.95 (softcover).]

If you’ve been asked to give a presentation at work or other occasion, panic may be your first instinct. After all, public speaking can be a daunting experience that can cause even the most practiced presenter anxiety. Fortunately, Develop Your Presentation Skills: How to inspire and inform with clarity and confidence is both an introduction and refresher text that provides guidance through the presentation process. From formulating an engaging introduction to handling the question-and-answer session, Theo Theobald provides multiple tips, hints, and tricks for creating professional presentations.

The book’s strengths are its brevity and conversational tone. Each chapter is broken into short sections of two to three paragraphs, making it perfect for the reader who wants to quickly access relevant content. Bold headings and subheadings make the reading visually accessible and summary points highlight the key message of each chapter.

Since the goal of public speaking is not only to inform but to engage the audience, Theobald provides solid advice on how to use storytelling, anecdotes, and humor to connect with the audience: “Being funny can be the best way of making a terrific presentation…because humor is like dynamite – fantastic if it explodes in a spectacular display of fireworks, less good if it goes off in your face” (p. 47). He follows up this statement with when, and, more importantly, how to use humor to your advantage in even the most ordinary presentation topics.

As a seasoned presenter and instructor of public speaking who has witnessed numerous mediocre presentations, I found myself wanting more information about how best to use PowerPoint (which the author refers to as a “high tech tool.”) He devotes a mere three pages to the topic and gives obvious advice such as avoiding fancy transitions and limiting the number of bullet points on a page. With TED Talks proliferating on YouTube, I was surprised there was no discussion of how to choose and use graphics, and very little about how to best use color for creating visually sophisticated presentations.

The book correctly notes that non-verbal cues such as confidence, appearance, and vocal delivery account for many factors that influence an audience’s engagement and interest in a speaker. Theobald observes that eliminating vocal garbage and developing a stage presence can improve the effectiveness of a speaker; however, he falls short of offering advice as to how to accomplish these things.

Develop Your Presentations Skills is a good choice if you’re looking for a quick guide to developing presentations or a refresher on the topic. By boosting your confidence and your effectiveness, you may even find yourself enjoying presenting to all types of audiences.

Lynne Cooke

Lynne Cooke is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University where she teaches courses in technical communication, digital writing, and usability. She has presented at several STC conferences and has published two articles on eye tracking in STC’s Technical Communication journal.

Type and Color: How to Design and Use Multicolored Typefaces

Mark van Wageningen. 2020. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press. [ISBN 978-1-61689-846-5. 180 pages. US $35.00.]

In Type and Color: How to Design and Use Multicolored Typefaces, author Mark van Wageningen, principal of the type foundry Novo Type, explores the design and future of multicolored typefaces. The book’s heart surrounds van Wageningen’s personal project designing a multicolored typeface, named Bixa, originally designed for letterpress and then converted to a digital typeface for both print and Web. In presenting Bixa’s design, van Wageningen also addresses essential theory and the how-to on designing fonts for the reader. Type and Color is a beautiful book for typophiles who love both type and color.

The book contains a blend of type design theory and an informational how-to. The author explains how to design a font, in a way that could help the reader design a standard black and white font, but also explores the how-to on designing a multicolored font, along with the nuances necessary for the differences. The theory includes the standard practices involved in the process; in the discussion of theory van Wageningen explains, “Good letters maintain a perfect balance between order and chaos” (p. 69). Other helpful advice found within Type and Color includes how to export files and how to set up a foundry. This information is essential for anyone wanting to design and license their own typefaces. The book also explains how to license your font through a distributor, if managing your own foundry is not for you.

The author identifies his intended audience as experienced designers, typographers, and students, though the designing of a font seems a bit problematic for any but the most advanced students. Also, due to this wide audience range, there is likely to be a lot of content that more advanced readers will already be familiar with, such as the explanation of RGB versus CMYK color. Additionally, the order in which some of the information is presented seems a bit odd, yet van Wageningen includes all the necessary information on how to design a typeface and a multicolored typeface. The undogmatic approach, as he puts it, might be exactly what students and non-type designers need to really get experimental with type design.

Type and Color is filled with beautiful examples of multicolored typeface designs including the body copy itself. Some might find the colored body copy a bit off-putting, but this is part of van Wageningen’s argument on color being the next horizon of type design. He acknowledges that colored fonts will be visually jarring to many people because black-and-white text is so entrenched in our culture. However, he also notes that textura fonts, which were used in the earliest days of printing and were once widely popular for their perceived readability, were based on the handwriting of scribes at the time and are now viewed as difficult to read. Will multicolored fonts be like the original sans serif types, not widely regarded when first introduced, only to be accepted roughly 100 years later? It will be interesting to find out.

Amanda Horton

Amanda Horton holds an MFA in Design and currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in the areas of design history, theory, and criticism. She is also the director of the Design History Minor at UCO.

Microsoft SharePoint for Dummies

Rosemarie Withee and Ken Withee. 2019. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [ISBN 978-1-119-55065-5. 400 pages, including index. US$29.99 (softcover).]

Microsoft SharePoint for Dummies is for you if your organization is running SharePoint Online or SharePoint Server 2019. It also covers the SharePoint Mobile App for iOS and Android.

The book’s 26 chapters are divided into six parts: Getting Started with SharePoint, Diving Headfirst into SharePoint, Customizing SharePoint, Becoming a SharePoint Administrator, Managing Enterprise Content, and The Part of Tens (Ten Hot SharePoint 2019 Topics, Ten Ways to Maintain Control with Governance, and Ten Ways to Become a SharePoint Server Guru). The following topics are new:

  • Creating workflows using Microsoft Flow and connecting that workflow to other services.
  • Building forms with Microsoft Forms and sending the collected data to SharePoint.
  • Building your own mobile-based apps
    with PowerApps.
  • Creating data dashboards with Power BI.

If it’s your job to get and keep SharePoint up and running for your organization, you’ll find instruction for:

  • Creating sites and hub sites: Learn how to create your own site using templates, and how to access it in Office 365 and via the SharePoint Mobile App.
  • Working with lists and libraries (a.k.a. apps), and Web Parts: Find the best way to incorporate reusable components to display content on Web pages in SharePoint.
  • Using SharePoint with Teams: Discover how SharePoint is closely integrated with Teams to upload files to Teams and add content to the Teams wiki.
  • Customizing SharePoint with apps: Plan, create, and take your apps to the next level.
  • Using the SharePoint Mobile App: Provide your organization’s intranet “right in your pocket.”
  • Integrating with Office 365: Create and save files to SharePoint, and open files saved in SharePoint.
  • Managing enterprise content: Meet your organization’s need for document and record management, including support for metadata.

While many of us start a book from the beginning and read to the end, Microsoft SharePoint for Dummies was written so that you can jump in anywhere you like. Whether you are a developer, an IT professional, a manager, or someone who is curious about using the product, this book will show you how to get the most out of SharePoint.

Michelle Gardner

Michelle Gardner, CPTC, is an STC member and a technical writer for Thomson Reuters. She has a bachelor’s in Journalism: Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University.

Adobe Captivate 2019: The Essentials (“Skills and Drills” Learning)

Kevin Siegel. 2018. Middletown, DE: IconLogic. [ISBN 978-1-944607-34-0. 246 pages, including index. US$39.00 (softcover).]

Adobe Captivate 2019: The Essentials (“Skills and Drills” Learning) covers a lot of beyond basic concepts in Adobe Captivate 2019. Each module offers one or more student activities for each concept. In the introduction, it is made clear that later modules rely on experience gained in previous modules. It is highly recommended to read and perform the modules in sequence.

The first three modules cover caption pre-editing, object styles, project sharing, branching, variables, and widgets. This information provides a good grounding for all the succeeding modules.

Kevin Siegel then leads the reader through interactive video, virtual reality, interactions, and accessibility. The last four modules cover advanced actions, masters, themes, templates, responsive projects, and reporting results. This book has lots of useful information, but much of it is buried in wordy sentences. The student activities are excellent at teaching the concepts.

Adobe Captivate 2019 is a comprehensive workbook with useful skills training on concepts. It could do with another substantive editing round to remove many of the filler words.

Rachel Houghton

Rachel Houghton is owner and photographer at Sonora Blue Media. She has over 22 years of technical communication experience. Rachel is an STC Fellow, a former STC Secretary, past program chair of the STC Technical Communication Summit, and is involved in the STC Arizona community. She enjoys photography and Photoshop.

Technolingualism: The Mind and The Machine

James Pfrehm. 2018. London, England: Bloomsbury Academic. [ISBN 978-1-4725-7833-4. 292 pages, including index. US$31.95 (softcover).]

Technolingualism: The Mind and The Machine is a phenomenal work that invites the reader to escape to all stages in writing history and to delve into the lives of inventors, creators, and the nay-sayers who believed the development of technology was insane. Before opening the pages of the book, I take to the cover and recognize the simplicity. The simplistic cover is there not to overpower the books’ words but to invite the reader to understand its purpose. It is not the outside of the book that matters but the inside with all the knowledge and history.

In the beginning chapters, the author wastes no time declaring his views: writing is “a manufactured … technology” (p. 27). James Pfrehm’s theory is that writing is not biologically natural to the ways of speech and technology. He supports his statement by citing others who have researched writing and contributed to the technology before him. We have examples of Socrates forbidding the process of written word, and Elizabeth Einstein, who studied printing in the western world. Pfrehm then leads his readers down the road of other languages and their writing technologies. For example, we are presented with the writing scrolls, the writing orb, and the printing press. His purpose is to let the reader see the evolution of writing and the effect it has on the developing technology.

In the middle chapters, Technolingualism jumps from different time zones, generations, and genres all by the simple subtitle. With the variety in titles, the reader can choose what interests them and what section they want to focus on the most. These include, for example, The Speech-Writing Continuum, Sign Language and Ideologies, and the Alphabet Effect. The entire book focuses on the importance of writing, the effect it has on generations, and, lastly, the benefits in having a variety of ways to communicate. As someone who thoroughly loves a good story, I appreciate Pfrehm in his incredible page-turner. The first page makes you wonder: “Where will he take me next?” I traveled the world in 250 pages and met amazing people. I listened as a dead man’s ear inspired the telephone, how my current emojis tell a more farfetched tale than I could ever imagine, and how my text messages can reflect a thousand different meanings.

Technolingualism is an excellent resource for potential technical communicators to understand the means of communication and how to captivate an audience even if the topic itself is tedious. Pfrehm scribes the ways of language and etches the mind into considering the different factors that affect how language leads to better technology. As Pfrehm states in his final sentence: “You, me, everyone who can read this final sentence—we are all technolinguals” (p. 250). A linguist benefiting from the effects of technology.

Whitney McCaulley

Whitney McCaulley is a graduate student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville studying Communication Arts. She has a strong focus in law and will be entering law school in 2020. She aims to help everyone and anyone, even if it is just one person.

Blogging for Dummies

Amy Lupold Bair. 2019. 7th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [ISBN 978-1-119-58805-4. 416 pages, including index. US$24.99. (softcover).]

As an academic who teaches Web publishing courses, and as an experienced blogger, I admit that I shied away from the “For Dummies” series of books on Web publishing topics because I feared the books would be too simplistic for my needs. As such, this seventh edition of Amy Lupold Bair’s Blogging for Dummies was off my radar. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although the book did focus more on the nuts and bolts of blog design and marketing more than the writing aspects, there was more to professional blogging than I had previously known.

Lupold Bair assumes that the reader has very little knowledge of blogging, which is in accordance with the “For Dummies” series. She begins with the very blogging basics, such as a description of what a blog is, how blogging developed as a Web genre, and choosing appropriate blogging services. From there, Lupold Bair progresses to the most advanced aspects of blogging, such as leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) keywords and dealing with blog sponsors.

One aspect I most appreciated about the book was its highly visual and well-organized chapters. Blogging for Dummies is a technical communication book that truly implements the best practices of writing for a novice audience. The chapters are comprehensive but easy to read, and the information within each chapter is clear and concise. Symbols for tips and warnings appear in the left-hand margin where the reader is likely to notice them. Lists are shaded and marked with bullet points for a handy visual reference. Lupold Bair also includes screenshots and other visuals on nearly every page, allowing readers to see real-life examples of the concepts under discussion.

This book covers an impressive array of topics, from the importance of writing modular contents (p. 23), to the ethics of blogging (p. 38), and even copyright rules for writing on the Web (p. 41). Advanced bloggers and Web writers will especially appreciate the amount of references and additional links Lupold Bair provides for readers seeking additional information. For example, she provides the link for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules about accepting endorsements for blogs (p. 39). As an academic, I found this additional information very helpful for my class lectures.

If this book has a weakness, it is that it does not concentrate overly much on the actual act of writing for the genre. Lupold Bair provides several helpful tips for writing, such as how to overcome writer’s block (pp. 200–211), and a discussion of writing anonymously and protecting your privacy (pp. 226–228), but there is not a lot of detailed discussion about choosing a style and learning how to adapt your writing to the audience.

Blogging for Dummies is an easy-to-use primer for new bloggers as well as an essential reference for experienced Web publishers and academics. Although it does not cover aspects of writing for the Web in enough detail to be a useful classroom textbook, anyone involved with blogging would do well to have a copy of this book on their shelf.

Nicole St. Germaine-Dilts

Nicole St. Germaine is an Assistant Professor in the Technical and Business Writing Program at Angelo State University, as well as a freelance writer and consultant. Her research interests include technical communication for a Mexican-American audience and technical communication in the health fields.

Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming

2018. L. Taylor. 2018. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [ISBN 978-0-691-18355-8. 300 pages, including index. US $27.95 (softcover).]

2019. L. Taylor opens Watch Me Play: Twitch and Rise of Game Live Streaming with a succinct history of the field. She gives readers a quick, solid foundation of its 20-year plus history before focusing on its largest institution, Twitch. This first chapter demonstrates Taylor’s deftly articulate style with her engaging blend of multimodal research methods’ results, lively style, and contemporary cultural connections.

History set, Taylor transitions into Chapter 2: Networked Broadcasting where the connections to Twitch are multiple and explicit. For many, Amazon-owned Twitch is synonymous with live game streaming. For others, Twitch is the place where a German supremacist terrorist streamed his October 9th, 2019, synagogue attack. For those disconnected with gaming or streaming, Twitch was, until August 2019, home to Ninja, a gamer famous for his Fortnite play.

Chapter 3 on home studios is Taylor’s most engaging work. First, she conducts multiple visits to home studios, interviews gamers onsite, and discusses her findings. Thoughtful and detailed, she explores economic impacts of small or large changes, mutual dependence between platforms and gamers, and the behind the scenes relationships between streamers and Twitch. Some parallels between the precarity of contingent academic labor and gamers are uncanny. If your child, cousin, niece, or friend’s daughter is thinking about being a professional gamer, read this chapter if not this whole book.

Potentially paradigm shifting in terms of how we see gaming and TV is Chapter 4: Esports Broadcasting: Ditching the TV Dream. While focused tightly on the people, technology, and culture that have helped make Esports broadcasting become a thing, this chapter helps frame a larger argument that, essentially, dismisses television’s relevance for many content consumers who live, work, and engage online. Within this chapter, Taylor addresses key concerns like equity, ethics, market development, consolidation, and competition.

Taylor’s book is notable. First, each chapter is easily excerpted into related reading lists in communication, media, and sociotechnical and science studies—not to mention education, popular culture, and online culture researchers. Second, Taylor is a joy to read. Her writing conveys her excitement and engagement, personal and professional presence, and yet she never overplays her first-person presence. Given these factors, this is a great mentor text for graduate students and junior faculty authors.

When framed within Taylor’s career arc—MIT professor, author of multiple books on digital research and culture, advocate for inclusive gaming, public presentations and intellectualism—it becomes obvious that Watch Me Play is a brilliant tip to an iceberg of impressive, longitudinal research, scholarship, and public engagement. In today’s current sociocultural confusion and miasma, scholars who also work and present as public intellectuals like Taylor, are vital for leavening out the discourse.

Fortunately, she has made a Creative Commons version of her book available for free download online: http://watchmeplay.cc/book/. This book is a joy.

Gregory Zobel

Gregory Zobel is an associate professor of Educational Technology at Western Oregon University.

The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling

Annette Simmons. 2019. 3rd edition. New York, NY: Basic Books. [ISBN 978-1-5416-7349-6. 350 pages, including index. US$17.99 (softcover).]

There’ve been several books on storytelling, but none that have drilled so deep. As an organizational consultant, Simmons helps organizations communicate effectively with storytelling. Of course, Simmons’s focus is on speaking rather than writing. And face-to-face has so many more communication channels than writing.

In her book, The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling, stories are in. Of course, they’ve been in for 2000 years. But only in the last 10 years or so have they broken out of the cradle of mythology, religion, and fiction writing, and entered the world of business—even for data presentation.

But first, a definition: What exactly is a story? Is it “a narrative account of a significant emotional event” (p. 36), or is it thinking “about the last time that you heard a story that touched you––a movie that has stayed with you” (p. 38), or is it a novel that changed your view of life. Or something significant you remember from 30, 40, 50, or even 60 years ago. Lots of names and places, sure. But the significant things are usually wrapped in a story.

Simmons repeatedly stresses that too much headwork and too little heartwork makes for dull communication. And heartwork comes from stories. “When we spend too much time talking to a person’s rational brain, we neglect their emotional brain” (p. 9). She packs plenty of wisdom into her one-liners: “They [let] people … come to their own conclusions” (p. 40). “When a story has been told for a thousand years, it must have something useful to say” (p. 31). “As a storyteller you borrow a story’s power to connect people to what is important … . A good story simplifies our world into something we feel like we can understand” (pp. 33–34).

A sampling from her third chapter, “What Story Can Do That Facts Can’t”: “Just as knowledge can become wisdom, so do facts become a story” (p. 58). “A good story helps you influence the interpretation people give to facts. Facts aren’t influential until they mean something to someone” (p. 59). “Giving people facts as a method of influence can be a waste of time. When you give a story first, and then add facts, you stand a better chance of influencing others to share your interpretation” (p. 63).

One of the keys to telling a good story is to engage all the senses. Another is the sense of timing, especially pausing. To a certain extent, these can both be captured in writing. The more your language uses sense words––words that help the reader see, hear, smell, taste, and touch––the more interesting, convincing, and better-remembered your writing becomes.

As for pause, there are three ways to capture it in writing: (1) with punctuation (from weak to strong); (2) with white space; and (3) with words and phrases like: Always remember. Stop and think for a moment. Consider this. Above all…

Steven Darian

Steven Darian is an STC Fellow and retired from Rutgers University, where he taught business and technical writing as well as other language-related courses. Steven’s book, Technique in Nonfiction: The Tools of the Trade (2019), is now in its 2nd edition.