A person usually expects another person to behave according to accepted norms, but how does a person respond to a message that violates his/her expectations? One theory dealing with violations of expectations is Burgeon and Hale's (1) nonverbal expectancy-violations theory. This theory posits that, under certain circumstances, violations of social norms and expectations may be an effective strategy for communicators to achieve the intended communication purpose. Although the expectancy-violations theory focuses on expectations for nonverbal behavior, such as gaze and conversational distance (2), I believe that this theory can also apply to expectations for humancomputer interaction.
The 2008 Presidential election's brought a new battleground to the forefront of the political arena - online. The online activities of both Barack Obama and John McCain, and their UK counterparts, highlights the increasing reach and influence of online channels and seems to be setting a trend for elections to come.
This article presents data from a long-term, qualitative study of writers appropriating new software tools for note taking. Instead of asking whether a writer knows how to use the discrete features specific to a software program, I argue that we might more profitably ask about the properties of functional systems that allow writers to flexibly meet the demands of their literate activity.
This article presents a framework--grounded in the classic rhetorical concept of ethos--for thinking about how technical communicators might examine the unique characteristics of the World Wide Web and the audiences it serves. The usefulness and increasing popularity of the Web is based on how well individuals and organizations use the technology as a means of establishing an online ethos. Technical communicators are already familiar with the obvious goal of establishing a professional ethos, but they might also consider some techniques for establishing sites having a more diverse and communal ethos. This ethos is expressed in 'special interest' Web sites constructed by individuals, and several commercially-oriented organizations have also successfully incorporated this ethos into their sites.
This article reports on a pilot study. The pilot will inform the methods for a larger, evaluative study of the quality of chat reference service. The evaluative study will use obtrusive observation techniques to look at several aspects of chat-based reference service from the information seeker's perspective including: the overall session, the chat or negotiation process, and the provision of answers, including the sources used. The evaluative study will specifically address the quality of output by assessing the accuracy and completeness of answers provided to chat reference service clients.
This article develops a rhetorical theory of delivery for Internet-based communications. Delivery, one of the five key canons of classical rhetoric, is still an important topic for rhetorical analysis and production. However, delivery needs to be re-theorized for the digital age. In Part 1, the article notes the importance of delivery in traditional rhetoric and argues that delivery should be viewed as a form of rhetorical knowledge (techne). Part 2 presents a theoretical framework for “digital delivery” consisting of five key topics—Body/Identity, Distribution/Circulation, Access/Accessibility, Interaction, and Economics—and shows how each of these topics can function strategically and heuristically to guide digital writing.
Traditional notions of the rhetorical community as the locus of shared beliefs and values have been challenged increasingly and from several directions--from radical and post-liberal democratic political theory, from cultural studies and cultural criticism, and, most recently, from the perspective of the ill-defined and elusive 'place' called cyberspace. At the heart of these challenges is the problem of the relationship of the community to those outside it or on its margins, an uneasy relationship that is variously characterized as a tension between communitarianism and liberalism, between ourselves and Others, between a culture and its marginalized individuals, and as a complex relationship between the One and the Many. Contemporary notions of the rhetorical community characterize this community less as the locus of shared beliefs and values than as a public space or forum within which diverse and sometimes conflicting beliefs and values can be articulated and negotiated. We believe that new computer-mediated communication environments have the potential to become contemporary rhetorical communities--public spaces or forums--within which limited or local communities and individuals can develop mutual respect and understanding via dialogue and discussion. We recently tested our belief in a colloquium at Diversity University MOO, an electronic 'place' or cyberspace where individuals can 'meet' and 'chat' in real time.2 Our colloquium revealed to us a kind of rhetoric and a kind of community that seems quite unlike anything that we have seen before--seventeen 'voices' from different places all 'speaking' at once in the same 'place' and 'speaking' in fragments rather than complete discourses.
The warranting principle pertains to impression formation in Internet communication. It posits that perceivers' judgments about a target rely more heavily on information which the targets themselves cannot manipulate than on self-descriptions. Two experiments employed mock-up profiles resembling the Internet site, Facebook, to display self-generated clues and to display other-generated clues about a Facebook user. The first experiment (N = 115) tested perceptions of extraversion. Although warranting was supported, rival explanations (negativity and additivity) also pertained. The second experiment (N = 125) tested perceptions of physical attractiveness. Friends' comments overrode self-comments, supporting warranting theory exclusively. Implications concern boundary-setting research for warranting, and potential effects of social comments on a variety of new information forms.
The techne I envision for digital production deliberately makes things more difficult for designer users, whether they are teachers or students. This is a hard sell, particularly to teachers who feel intimidated enough by technology of the consumer ease variety. But we should remember that rhetoric, unless it takes the form of a Mad-Lib, is not easy. A techne of digital production is an effort to remove the disproportionality between effort and consequences: only when we earn the knowledge of production from a designer user standpoint can we more fully take responsibility for what we do with it. Digital writers must do the hard work of fashioning their content into a sound structure, developing unique presentational designs, and considering audience interaction with their finished works.
The present experiment examined how the lack of individuating information affects message elaboration and conformity to group norms in text-based computer-mediated communication. Participants made decisions about choice dilemma scenarios and exchanged their arguments with three ostensible partners via computer. Consistent with the social identity model of deindividuation effects, those who had exchanged personal profiles with their partners prior to the discussion were better able to differentiate between strong and weak arguments and were more likely to make conformity decisions based on the message content than those who had not. On the other hand, those who had no identity cues were more likely to factor in group identification for their conformity decisions. Results suggest that less systematic message processing and greater reliance on normative considerations account for how deindividuation moderates the effects of argument strength on group conformity.
How can writers enhance their visual literacy in order to create effective online documentation? By partnering multimedia production expertise with technical writing expertise, DVS Communications and Bell-Northern Research (BNR) have co-developed an introductory course 'Words into Pictures' that stimulates visual thinking capabilities. This paper describes the main components of the course and illustrates its contribution to the success of BNR's online information system CADHELP.
The MUD Bot Julia and the Turing test can help us understand some things about writing in new technological environments. These environments belong to what Sherry Turkle has called our “culture of simulation” (Turkle, 1997). She takes the term simulation from postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard, who maintains that the proliferation of signs in contemporary society has “imploded” the distinction between the real and the simulated: the world of signs has become “hyperreal,” overwhelming the physical world and replacing it as our primary experience.