A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Markel, Mike

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Anti-Employer Blogging: An Overview of Legal and Ethical Issues   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Anti-employer blogs, those which criticize companies or their employees, are posing significant legal and ethical challenges for corporations. The important legal issue is the conflict between the employee's legal duty of loyalty to the employer and the employee's right to free speech. Although U.S. and state law describes what an employee may or may not say in a blog, corporations should encourage employees to contribute to the process of creating clear, reasonable policies that will help prevent expensive court cases. The important ethical issue concerning anti-employer blogs is whether an employee incurs an ethical duty of loyalty. In this article, I conclude that there is no such ethical duty. The legal duty of loyalty, explained in a company-written policy statement that employees must endorse as a condition of employment, offers the best means of protecting the legal and ethical rights of both employers and employees.

Markel, Mike. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Blogging>Ethics


Audience Profile Sheet   (Word)

A form for coding users' interaction with a written document.

Markel, Mike. Bedford-St. Martin's (2001). Design>Usability>Workflow


Deep Linking: An Ethical and Legal Analysis   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Deep linking, the practice of linking to a subsidiary page rather than the home page of another organization’s website, is the subject of considerable controversy. In several recent lawsuits, plaintiffs have alleged violations of copyright, trademark, and commercial laws. In this article, I review the legal and ethical issues regarding deep linking and comment on how the ethical conflict between rights and utility motivates the controversy. I conclude that protecting site owners’ rights to control deep linking to their sites is a stronger value than enhancing the utility of the Web for users by allowing completely unrestricted deep linking. Finally, I recommend a collection of resources for Web developers interested in staying current with the evolving controversy.

Markel, Mike. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (2002). Design>Web Design>Hypertext


Designing for the Web: A Tutorial by Mike Markel

This tutorial presents a brief overview of the process of creating a Web site, introduces you to important design principles to consider as you design a site, and helps you analyze the design of sample Web pages. Although the principles presented here apply to all kinds of Web sites, the primary focus is on sites for organizations'from student groups to corporate Web sites'rather than on personal Web sites.

Markel, Mike. Bedford-St. Martin's (2007). Design>Web Design>Tutorials


Exploiting Verbal-Visual Synergy in Presentation Slides   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Describes the most challenging aspect of creating slides for an oral presentation. Presents two principles for creating informative and persuasive graphics. Explains how to use drawing tools to communicate the schema of the slide and to emphasize important portions of the images.

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication Online (2009). Articles>Presentations>Writing>Rhetoric


Group Project Peer Evaluation Form   (Word)

Use this form to evaluate the other members of the group. Write the name of each group member in one of the columns, then assign a score of 0 to 10 (0 being the lowest grade, 10 the highest) to each group member for each criterion. Then total the scores for each member. Because each group member has different strengths and weaknesses, the scores you assign will differ. On the back of this sheet, write down any comments you wish to make.

Markel, Mike. Bedford-St. Martin's (2001). Careers>Workplace>Workflow


Meet the Editors of the Technical Communication Journals   (PDF)

Description of each journal in the field, written by its editor or editors, then edited for length by Mike Markel.

Carson, David L., Thomas Kent, Mary Lay Mike Markel, Frank R. Smith and Billie Wahlstrom. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>TC>Publishing


Mike Markel's Web Design Tutorial

This tutorial presents a brief overview of the process of creating a Web site, introduces you to important design principles to consider as you design a site, and helps you analyze the design of sample Web pages. Although the principles presented here apply to all kinds of Web sites, the primary focus is on sites for organizations--from student groups to corporate Web sites--rather than on personal Web sites.

Markel, Mike. Bedford-St. Martin's (2002). Design>Web Design


The Rhetoric of Misdirection in Corporate Privacy-Policy Statements   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

U.S. businesses wish to continue to profit by collecting personal information from their website visitors, yet they fear that the practice both alienates visitors and exposes them both to legal problems from U.S. authorities and business sanctions from data-privacy authorities in Europe and Canada. This dilemma is reflected in the typical corporate privacy-policy statement, which is full of misleading and deceptive rhetoric intended to cover up the gap between the company's privacy policy and the image it wishes to project.

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication Quarterly (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Legal>Privacy


Self Evaluation Form   (Word)

On this form, record and evaluate your own involvement in a project. In the Log section, record the activities you performed as an individual and you performed as part of the group. For all activities, record the date and the number of hours you spent. In the Evaluation section, write two brief statements: one about aspects of your contribution you think were successful and one about the aspects you want to improve.

Markel, Mike. Bedford-St. Martin's (2001). Careers>Workplace>Workflow


TechComm Web

This site provides additional materials for every chapter and directs students and instructors to the best Web resources available in technical communication.

Markel, Mike. Bedford-St. Martin's (2002). Books>Documentation>Technical Writing


Testing Visual-Based Modules for Teaching Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A study of novice writers shows that instructional materials about writing that incorporate basic principles of visual design are more effective than those that are primarily verbal. Less-capable writers benefit most from materials that include the extra text-processing cues provided by the visual design. Narrative comments about the instructional materials show that writers are aware of the design elements and appreciate them. Technical communication practitioners, researchers, trainers, and instructors have a large role to play in improving the way writing is taught.

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication Online (1998). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Visual Rhetoric


Time and Exigence in Temporal Genres   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Genre use entails a rhetorical response to an exigence in the writer's context. In one category of genres, which the author calls temporal genres, linear time constitutes a major exigence to which writers must respond. Temporal genres, such as annual reports and status reports, call for writers to publish texts because a certain amount of time has passed, even if they are not yet ready to do so. The first annual report of the Privacy Office of the Department of Homeland Security reveals an ineffective ethos and discontinuities between the mission of the office and that of the department. But the second annual report reveals a more effective ethos and greater harmony between the missions. This study shows how the requirement to report can force writers to decide existential issues of identity and mission.

Markel, Mike. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Genre

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