While reading Karen Schriver’s “What Do Techincal Communicators Need to Know About Information Design,” I was really struck by how Schriver describes the necessary skillset of a technical communicator—that is, they must be well versed in information design, the “art and science of integrating writing and design so that people can use content in ways that suit their personal goals” (388). Having shadowed one of Kristin’s DTC classes, I wonder how Washington State University’s DTC major might support Schriver’s argument for the growing skill set of technical communicators. I think, also, that emphasizing information design asks employers and peers in workplace situations to see the technical communicator as an author, a designer, rather than just a producer.
I’m also interested in Brent Henze’s discussion of genre and finding genres in the workplace within his article, “What Do Technical Communicators Need to Know about Genre?”. He applies the notion of genre to the technical communicator’s work and asserts that they can “simplify the technical communicator’s work by constraining the range of possibilities in a given communication situation, and they can encourage innovation by helping technical communicators understand the goals of a text and envision a range of ways to achieve those goals” (337). How might this complicate the discussion of author versus producer? What type of assignments might we include in our 402 courses to tackle this idea of genre? What are the pros and cons of thinking of the work of technical communicators in terms of genres? I guess I’m particularly interested in this topic because I’m a TA for English 302 this semester, and one of the assignments we’ve asked our students to complete is to establish their own genre of something (punk rock t-shirts, 1980s comedy posters, really, anything) and explain how their genre funtions in terms of outliers and norms. It’s a really cool assignment, but I wonder how we might translate it into looking at the genres of technical communication. What might be gained/lost as an author? What might be gained/lost as a user?