Room 42 is a new hybrid, taking the best parts of traditional webinars, interview-style podcasts, and online teaching to move us all in a new direction. In the room, you will find the leaders who are molding the new professionals and advancing the profession. Room 42 is where content professionals come share vetted, peer-reviewed research in and around content, writing, rhetoric, argumentation, analysis, linguistics, and more to help us all be better communicators.
Communication is the Medicine
Dr. Bill Hart-Davidson is a Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Rhetoric & Composition from Purdue University. Bill is also a Senior Researcher in the Writing in Digital Environments Research Center. He is a co-inventor of Eli Review, a software service that supports writing instruction and co-founder of Drawbridge, a learning technology company.
In this episode of Room 42 we discuss teaching and research that have orbited the intersection of technical and professional writing and user experience throughout Bill’s 20-year career. Major themes in his research include improving feedback cultures as a means to see better outcomes in learning in clinical and public health. Bill's work explores the ways feedback, revision, and reuse can be trained and/or automated using machine-learning technologies. In his most recent book, RhetOps: Rhetoric and Information Warfare, he and Jim Ridolfo explore how state and non-state actors leverage digital rhetorical practices to weaponize and use it in campaigns of disinformation. Bill's current work in health services shines a light on the bright side of communication and includes a multi-site clinical trial evaluating a combined patient activation, shared-decision making and m-health intervention and its ability to reduce risk in patients. In this trial, all the interventions, all of the new "medicine" are changes in communication practices. The results so far are fascinating.
Show notes: https://tccamp.org/episodes/communication-is-the-medicine
Words Have Meaning (Green Room 42)
Partnering for Inclusive Language
In this episode of Green Room 42, practicing professionals from technical and professional communications fields come together to discuss how inclusive language impacts their work. We share some common mistakes and some of the ways we can partner to develop Industry-wide standards for Inclusive Language with helpful lists and positive alternatives.
Janice Summers and Liz Fraley speak with Larry Kunz, Steven Jong, Karsten Wade, and Dr. Lucía Dura.
Link to the show notes: https://tccamp.org/green-room/words-have-meaning-partnering-for-inclusive-language/
Strategies for Navigating Transnational Projects
In this episode of Room 42 we discuss the vast challenges of designing, conducting, analyzing, and delivering outcomes of projects that cross national borders. Nancy and Bernadette have witnessed first hand the legal, practical, and ethical challenges that emerge even during activities that seem relatively simple and straightforward. They will share a sampling of the stories of difficulties technical and professional communication (TPC) researchers and practitioners have faced, their strategies for navigating those challenges, and their reflections over how their projects changed or even failed. In this episode of Room 42, we’ll hear about their book, "Transnational Research in Technical Communication: Realities and Reflections,” a collection of stories from the trenches.
Dr. Nancy Small is an Assistant Professor of English and the Director of First Year Writing at the University of Wyoming. She joined UW as a tenure-track faculty in 2016, after 25 years on the teaching faculty at Texas A&M. The last six of those were spent at the branch campus in Qatar. Her work has been published in journals such as Peitho: Journal of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric & Composition, the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, and the Journal of Usability Studies as well as in scholarly books about transnational and intercultural issues such as The Routledge Handbook to Communication and Gender and Western Higher Education in Asia and the Middle East: Politics, Economics, and Pedagogy. Her monograph, Feminist Sensemaking through Storytelling: USAmerican Women in Qatar, is based on ethnographic research of the white expatriate community during her six years living and working in the Middle East. Her current projects include an article on reading handmade material artifacts as textual memoirs of their erased makers, and a book-length project on rhetoric, place making, and public memory in the USAmerican West. In support of this last project, she received a spring 2021 fellowship with the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research.
Dr. Bernadette Longo is an associate professor in the Department of Humanities at New Jersey Institute of Technology. She is the author of Spurious Coin: A History of Science, Management, and Technical Writing (SUNY Press, 2000), Edmund Berkeley and the Social Responsibility of Computer Professionals (ACM Press, 2015), and Words and Power: Computers, Language, and U.S. Cold War Values (Springer Press, forthcoming 2021). She is the co-editor of Critical Power Tools: Technical Communication and Cultural Studies (SUNY Press, 2006) and The IEEE Guide to Writing in the Engineering and Technical Fields (IEEE Press, 2017). Dr. Longo has also written and presented numerous journal articles and conference papers. She currently enjoys life by a small lake in New Jersey.
For links and show notes: https://tccamp.org/episodes/strategies-for-navigating-transnational-projects/
Are Your Best Intentions Causing Harm?
Dr. Eric P. James has always been good at asking questions, often seeing multiple-sides to complex issues. Eric is an Associate Professor in the Communication Studies Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He researches issues relating to workplace wellness, organizational identity, and control. He asks questions about the consequences of the ever-present creeping arm of managerial control. He has been published in a variety of outlets including the Journal of Applied Communication Research and Management Communication Quarterly.
In this episode of Room 42 we discuss complexities in internal corporate communications. Eric James discusses identity, work, and wellness and the role communication plays in workplace health/lifestyle promotion and managerial control. We look at workplace wellness as a model for communication with content consumers.
With workplace wellness growing in popularity throughout the corporate landscape, it seems almost more rare for an organization not to have employee wellness practices. With more and more employers adopting wellness and fitness for their employees, we discuss the implications and consequences of workplace wellness using white-collar and blue-collar case-studies and various “extreme” cases of workplace health/lifestyle promotion. We discuss the role of our employer in maintaining the health of employees. We explore the relationship between work, worker identities and wellness and the role that communication plays in all of it.
Robust Audience Analysis Methods
Clay Spinuzzi is a professor of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies how people organize, communicate, collaborate, and innovate at work. Spinuzzi has conducted multiple workplace studies, resulting in several articles and four books: Tracing Genres through Organizations (MIT Press, 2003); Network (Cambridge University Press, 2008); Topsight 2.0 (Urso Press, 2018); and All Edge (University of Chicago Press, 2015). He blogs at spinuzzi.blogspot.com.
In this episode of Room 42, we discuss how to best understand how people communicate, coordinate, and collaborate at work. For the last 25 years, Clay Spinuzzi has been conducting qualitative investigations into how people work. Using a qualitative case study approach based in sociocultural theory, Spinuzzi has studied the work of software developers, traffic safety workers, telecommunications workers, freelancers, SEO specialists, and early-stage technology entrepreneurs.
Spinuzzi has conducted these investigations using an approach called topsight, which involves collecting qualitative data (observations, interviews, documents and other artifacts), then modeling relationships among them. The result is a robust audience analysis in which investigators better understand the people, tools, and objectives of a given organization as well as places where these people, tools, and objectives conflict or just don't match. This approach is the topic of his book Topsight 2.0, an easy-to-use guide for practitioners and students who want to understand information flow in organizations. In this episode of Room 42, we'll discuss Spinuzzi's research approach, drawing examples from his many studies.
Ethics and Empathy in Communications
Dawn M. Armfield, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Technical Communication in the Department of English where she teaches usability, user experience, research methods, visual communication in technical communication, instructional design, travel writing, and prototyping. Her research focus is on human-centered design in emerging, immersive, and embodied technologies with a focus on empathy and ethics. She has published in interdisciplinary fields with emphasis in emerging technologies, visual communications, online collaborations, and educational technologies. Her most recent publication is a co-authored chapter, “Human-centered content design in augmented reality.” Prior to becoming a professor, she was an instructional technologist, systems analyst, project manager, and web content developer.
In this episode of Room 42 we discuss the semantic shift from user to human which has created a space in which the people, the audiences, that we create content for have more depth and diversity than those of us in technical communication used to focus on. In order to create spaces, documents, and environments that appeal to that diversity, we need to look at the ways people connect with one another, the problems that arise in those connections, and the solutions that we can deliver. By incorporating empathy and ethical studies into our practices, we can create information for real humans rather than monolithic audiences.