A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Hirst, Russel

5 found.

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Creating and Sustaining Technical Communication Programs in Colleges and Universities   (PDF)

This Progression Roundtable brings together leading experts (Dr. Karen A. Schriver, Dr. Russel Hirst, Dr. Susan D. Kleimann, Dr. Dianne Atkinson, Dr. Teresa C. Kynell, and Dr. David McMurrey) on academic programs in technical communication. The Roundtable focuses on existing and 'start-up' technical communication degree or certificate programs in community colleges and universities. Presenters will discuss issues such as curriculum development, marketing strategies, student chapters of STC, student and faculty internships, and linkages with industry. Information about existing programs will be made available to all participants.

Bosley, Deborah S., Karen A. Schriver, Russel Hirst, Susan D. Kleimann, Dianne Atkinson, Teresa C. Kynell, and David McMurrey. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Education>TC


Education and Training Stem Overview   (PDF)

The field of technical communication is transforming at a rapid rate, responding to scientific and technological advancements, economic pressures, and social changes. This makes our field exciting and challenging. The excitement and challenge is intensified for educators and trainers, because we must stay high on the learning curve in order to help prepare others to meet the challenges and prosper by the changes. At the same time, we must be sure to integrate new knowledge, technologies, and skills with what is valuable in the old rather than simply letting the new displace the old.

Hirst, Russel. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Education>TC


Herbert Spencer's Philosophy of Style: Conserving Mental Energy   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

My article traces the development, chronicles the impact, and explains the essence of Herbert Spencer's "The Philosophy of Style" (1852). Spencer's essay has had a significant influence on stylistics, especially in scientific and technical communication. Although in our generation Spencer's contribution to stylistics is not widely remembered, it ought to be. His single essay on this subject was seminal to modern theories about effective communication, not because it introduced new knowledge but because it was such a rhetorically astute synthesis of stylistic lore, designed to connect traditional rhetorical theory with 19th-century ideas about science, technology, and evolution. It was also influential because it was part of Spencer's grand "synthetic philosophy," a prodigious body of books and essays that made him one of the most prominent thinkers of his time. Spencer's "Philosophy of Style" carried the day, and many following decades, with its description of the human mind as a symbol-processing machine, with its description of cognitive and affective dimensions of communication, and with its scientifically considered distillation of the fundamental components of effective style. We should read Spencer's essay and understand its impact not so much because we expect it to teach us new things about good style, but precisely because: 1) it's at the root of some very important concepts now familiar to us; 2) it synthesizes these concepts so impressively; 3) we can use it heuristically as we continue thinking about style; and 4) it provides a compact, accessible touchstone for exploring--with students, clients, and colleagues--the techniques of effective style for scientific and technical communication. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler [1, p. 314]. . . . the fewer the words are, provided neither propriety nor perspicuity be violated, the expression is always the more vivid [2, p. 333]. However influential the precepts thus dogmatically expressed, they would be much more influential if reduced to something like scientific ordination. In this as in other cases, conviction is strengthened when we understand the why [3, pp. 2-3]. The psychology of language reception is still very imperfectly understood [4, p. 77].

Hirst, Russel. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2004). Articles>TC>Theory>History


How the East Tennessee Chapter of STC Created, and Administers, Its J. Paul Blakely Scholarship   (PDF)

Every local chapter of any professional society should consider starting up a scholarship. Scholarships are obviously great for students, but they’re also great for the people who give them out. You get wonderful PR, a lifeline of new blood, and that inner glow that comes from doing good.

Hirst, Russel. STC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Scholarships>TC


Scientific Jargon, Good and Bad   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Scientific and technical jargon--specialized vocabulary, usually Latinate--plays a vital role in scientific and technical communication. But its proper use continues to be a point of discussion because of our concern with audience adaptation, rhetorical exigence, rhetorical purpose, and ethics. We've focused on teaching students--and on convincing scientists, engineers, and other writers/speakers--to gear their specialized language to the recipients of their communication, to the occasion calling for their communication, to what they wish to accomplish through their communication, and to the ethical goals of safety, helpfulness, empowerment, and truth. These are exactly the sorts of things we should be doing. My contribution to this conversation is a reinforce ment and, I hope, an extension of the argument that we should also be teaching and convincing students and professionals: 1) to fully appreciate what makes jargon either good or bad; 2) to carefully distinguish jargon usage from other aspects of scientific and technical style; and 3) to recognize that in every context, even in communication among experts, jargon should be used judiciously--that is, in the most helpful, least taxing way. Jargon, i.e. scientific terminology, is essential for designating new entities for which the language has no name. It makes for economy and for the accuracy and precision required in scientific research [1, p. 319]. Does the excessive use of technical terms impede the advance of science? I think it does. It kills the grace and purity of the literature by means of which the discoveries of science are made known [2, p. 116]. What if it should turn out that we are all jargon makers and jargon users, and that jargon is necessarily involved in the growth and change of language? That we are consumers of jargon as we are eaters of sliced bread? [3, p. 3]. To attempt a definition of jargon threatens unusual dangers [4, p. 69]. The above epigraphs are glimpses into discussions about both the uses of jargon and its definitions. My article enters in on such discussions, offering a point of view about the definitions and about the proper uses of jargon.

Hirst, Russel. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2003). Articles>Language>Scientific Communication

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