A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Combining Interpersonal and Technical Communication Courses to Improve How Teams Function   (PDF)

Research indicates that teams are more effective when they satisfy the social goals of their members. Therefore, teams that focus on interpersonal communication (the internal performance process) as well as the team's objective (the external product) improve their chances for success. It follows, then, that classroom instructors can enhance team success by adding interpersonal communication components to courses that use teams. This paper shows how we used this research to design an innovative NSF program. The program incorporated an interpersonal communication component to motivate student teams to succeed.

Barchilon, Marian G. and Donald G. Kelley. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Education>Collaboration


Comics: Not Just for Laughs!

Every project has its own unique set of 'opportunities'--also known as challenges. Many of these challenges relate not to the quality of our work, but rather to the communication of our ideas. Often in the course of design, you must communicate complicated concepts to a non-technical (and often uninterested) project sponsor, client, or stakeholder. So how do you capture their interest, get their understanding and buy-in, and finally move on?

Sedaca, Rebekah. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>Project Management>Collaboration>Technical Illustration


COMMUNEcating in the Spaces In-Between   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This essay describes the authors' efforts to engage disciplinary calls for greater diversity through the construction of an international online community and conference, COMMUNEcation. They describe the commitments and goals of the community and conference, the construction of the COMMUNEcating space, and their encounters with disciplinary, geographically, and linguistically diverse scholars in their mutual exploration of global and organizing practices in their local contexts. The conference contributions and conversations prompted the authors to ask three salient questions around scholarly understandings of the Other and Othering practices of organizing and communicating across the globe—Where is the Other? Who is the Other? and What is the Other? The second half of the essay discusses these questions in detail and concludes with the authors' reflections on creating "spaces inbetween" through technology and an introduction to the multiauthored collaborative essay and conference product from the Scholars of the COMMUNEcation Network that follows.

Nelson-Marsh, Natalie, Kirsten J. Broadfoot and Debashish Munshi. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Collaboration>Online>Professionalism


Communicating Customer and Business Value with a Value Matrix

What happens to the personas and scenarios once you’re ready to start requirements definition and design. Are you sure you’ve adequately communicated the type of system your users need to the Business Analyst and Interaction Designer on your team?

Cecil, Richard F. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Collaboration>User Experience>Assessment


Communicating Design Concepts Without Getting Skewered

We need to exercise the ideas we generate by articulating them coherently; chances are high that if we can't describe our "great idea" with clarity, it's not such a great idea, after all. It's amazing how many design ideas seem just dandy on the whiteboard, then deflate like a punctured balloon when poked at with the sharp pencil of design communication.

Calde, Steve. Cooper Journal (2006). Articles>Communication>Design>Collaboration


Communicating Effectively in Intercultural Virtual Teams

Organizations with virtual teams have invested vast resources in recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, offering cultural diversity training and providing the technology that makes the functioning of these teams possible. To ignore the opportunities and the potential pitfalls of these teams would minimize this investment.

Oetzel, John and Martina H. Myers. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Collaboration>Online


Communicating Effectively with Your Web Developer

A rather stressful part of optimizing some sites can be working with a web developer who doesn't understand the importance of search engine friendly design. Sometimes these developers can be frustrating or keep you from getting your work done right. This article contains a number of thing to keep in mind and to avoid when working in these situations.

Sullivan Cassidy, Jennifer. SEOchat (2005). Articles>Web Design>Collaboration


Communicating with Clients

Technical language is important to professions like ours. It enables us to define precisely what we are talking about, so facilitating unambiguous communication within our profession, with other professions, and when appropriate, with consumers of our services.

Bowen, Caroline. Tripod.com (1998). Careers>Collaboration>Communication


Communication Channels Used by Technical Writers Throughout the Documentation Process   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article focuses on communication channels used by technical writers to obtain and verify product information. Although much has been written about communication channel components (for example, document review), little discussion has focused on the spectrum of communication channels available to technical writers or why they might choose certain channels. The communication channels identified in this article include team meetings, document review, individual face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and e-mail. To test my identification and to see which channels writers would choose when presented with different scenarios, I collected and analyzed data from a survey of approximately 30 technical communicators who responded to an e-mail questionnaire sent to 170 STC members.

McGee, Lynn. Technical Communication Online (2000). Articles>Communication>Collaboration


Communication in Cross-Functional Teams: An Introduction to This Special Issue   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The importance of teams has grown during the past decades as increasing numbers of organizations have turned to collaborative models of work. The emphasis on 'cross-functional' reflects the growing complexity of today's work, where no single individual or job function possesses sufficient knowledge or skill for developing or maintaining innovative products and services. One of the biggest challenges of teams is developing patterns of effective communication. As with all processes and practices in the workplace, communication within cross-functional teams must be examined, discussed, and taught explicitly for such teams to succeed. The articles in this issue provide insights into the communication challenges facing individuals working in teams in today's workplace. In addition, the issue discusses a variety of tools and techniques for improving communication and efficiency within teams and the quality of work produced.

Smart, Karl L. and Carol M. Barnum, eds. Technical Communication Online (2000). Articles>Communication>Collaboration


Communication in International Virtual Offices   (PDF)

Advances in communication technologies mean that colleagues from different parts of the world can work together in the same online space. In some cases, that space is an e-mail exchange, text messaging, or a shared corporate intranet site; in other cases, it is an electronic bulletin board or chat room related to a project. These shared online work spaces—or international virtual offices (IVOs)—provide a level of interaction that can reduce production costs and shorten production cycles.

St. Amant, Kirk R. Intercom (2003). Careers>Telecommuting>Collaboration>Workplace


Community and Individuality: Performing Identity in Applied Linguistics   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent research has emphasized the close connections between writing and the construction of an author's identity. While academic contexts privilege certain ways of making meanings and so restrict what resources participants can bring from their past experiences, we can also see these writing conventions as a repertoire of options that allow writers to actively and publicly accomplish an identity through discourse choices. This article takes a somewhat novel approach to the issue of authorial identity by using the tools of corpus analysis to examine the published works of two leading figures in applied linguistics: John Swales and Debbie Cameron. By comparing high frequency keywords and clusters in their writing with a larger applied linguistics reference corpus, I attempt to show how corpus techniques might inform our study of identity construction and something of the ways identity can be seen as independent creativity shaped by an accountability to shared practices.

Hyland, Ken. Written Communication (2010). Articles>Language>Linguistics>Collaboration


Companies Turn to Grades, and Employees Go to Court   (members only)

An increasingly popular technique for evaluating employees is prompting lawsuits charging discrimination at three big companies. At issue is the ranking of managers, professionals and sometimes lower-level employees from best to worst, or grading them on a bell curve, and then using that ranking to help determine pay and sometimes whether to fire someone.

Abelson, Reed. New York Times, The (2001). Careers>Collaboration>Assessment


Competitive Advantage through Employee Engagement

Engagement. Is it the latest corporate buzzword? Not for serious business leaders who understand the correlation between engaged employees and improved financial performance. They see engagement as a source of competitive advantage. All things equal, they believe, an organization that has engaged employees will outperform one that doesn’t.

Shaffer, Jim. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Careers>Management>Collaboration>Workplace


The Complex Dynamics of Collaborative Tagging   (PDF)

The debate within the Web community over the optimal means by which to organize information often pits formalized classifications against distributed collaborative tagging systems. A number of questions remain unanswered, however, regarding the nature of collaborative tagging systems including whether coherent categorization schemes can emerge from unsupervised tagging by users. This paper uses data from the social bookmarking site del.icio.us to examine the dynamics of collaborative tagging systems. In particular, we examine whether the distribution of the frequency of use of tags for 'popular' sites with a long history (many tags and many users) can be described by a power law distribution, often characteristic of what are considered complex systems. We produce a generative model of collaborative tagging in order to understand the basic dynamics behind tagging, including how a power law distribution of tags could arise. We empirically examine the tagging history of sites in order to determine how this distribution arises over time and to determine the patterns prior to a stable distribution. Lastly, by focusing on the high-frequency tags of a site where the distribution of tags is a stabilized power law, we show how tag co-occurrence networks for a sample domain of tags can be used to analyze the meaning of particular tags given their relationship to other tags.

Halpin, Harry, Valentin Robu and Hana Shepherd. WWW 2007 (2007). Articles>Web Design>Taxonomy>Collaboration


Components, Patterns, and Frameworks! Oh My!

In our research, we've found that teams that build out a re-use strategy see tangible benefits: They are more likely to get a completed design sooner, with all the little nuances and details that make for a great experience. Their designs are more likely to meet users expectations by behaving consistently across the entire functionality. Plus, the teams iterate faster (always a good thing), giving them a chance to play with the design while it's still malleable.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2009). Articles>Project Management>Collaboration>Methods


Compound Mediation in Software Development: Using Genre Ecologies to Study Textual Artifacts

Traditionally, technical communicators have seen the texts that they produce -- manuals, references, instructions -- as 'bridging' or mediating between a worker and her tool. But field studies of workers indicate that the mediational relationship is much more complicated: Workers often draw simultaneously upon many different textual artifacts to mediate their work, including not only the official genres produced by technical communicators manuals but also ad hoc notes, comments, and improvisational drawings produced by the workers themselves. In this chapter, I theorize these instances of compound mediatiation by drawing on activity theory and genre theory. I describe an analytical framework, that of genre ecologies, that can be used to systematically investigate compound mediation within and across groups of workers. Unlike other analytical frameworks that have been used in studies of technology (such as distributed cognition's functional systems and contextual design's work models), the genre ecology framework highlights the interpretive and cultural-historical aspects of compound mediation that are so important in understanding the use of textual artifacts. The analytical framework is illustrated by an observational study of how 22 software developers in a global corporation used various textual artifacts to mediate their software development work.

Spinuzzi, Clay. WAC Clearinghouse (2002). Design>Collaboration>Software


Computer Supported Collaborative Work

The rapid evolution of information and the new potentials for communication between people have been of great importance to the success of most organizations. Key aspects were the increased availability of computer networks and the trend towards team work. One of the main emphasis of the chair of Applied Informatics-Distributed Systems is on computer support for team work. Activities in that domain are known by the notions of groupware or computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). Ellis defines groupware as 'computer-based systems that support groups of people engaged in a common task (or goal) and that provide an interface to a shared environment.' While groupware refers to real computer-based systems, means the notion CSCW the study of tools and techniques of groupware as well as their psychological, social and organizational effects. According to Wilson is 'CSCW a generic term which combines the understanding of the way people work in groups with the enabling technologies of computer networking, and associated hardware, software, services and techniques.'

CSCW. Organizations>Collaboration>Online


Computer Supported Collaborative Work Bibliography

This is a gateway to the bibliographic database on CSCW and related topics which is maintained at the Applied Informatics and Distributed Systems Group at Technische Universität München. The database contains basic bibliographic data, links to online versions of the references, and sometimes even abstracts or annotations.

CSCW. Resources>Bibliographies>Collaboration


Computer-Mediated Communication Platforms

Overview and reviews of resources, software, training environments, collaboration/conferencing software, and tools.

Montecino, Virginia. George Mason University (2003). Resources>Directories>Collaboration>Online


Conducting Effective Team Technical Reviews

Mention team technical reviews to a group of tech writers and chances are good that you will either get a loud, collective groan, or the group will vie to tell the best review horror story. On the one hand, technical reviews are a vital part of our jobs because they help us to produce high quality product documents. On the other hand, technical reviews gone wrong are the bane of our existence. The good news is that we have the power to conduct consistently effective technical reviews. This article summarizes why we do reviews and what often goes wrong in reviews, and then summarizes steps to take before, during, and after technical reviews that can help you conduct effective team technical reviews. Although your process and team may differ from what’s described here, you can apply the information in part or in whole to improve your current review process.

Brown, M. Katherine 'Kit'. Tech Writer Today (2011). Articles>Collaboration>Technical Writing>Assessment


Conducting Successful Interviews With Project Stakeholders

A simple, semi-structured, one-on-one interview can provide a very rich source of insights. Interviews work very well for gaining insights from both internal and external stakeholders, as well as from actual users of a system under consideration. Though, in this column, I'll focus on stakeholder interviews rather than user interviews.

Baty, Steve. UXmatters (2007). Articles>Collaboration>Interviewing


Conducting Successful Interviews With Project Stakeholders

Looking back over recent months, by far the most common form of research I’ve carried out is that stalwart of qualitative studies—the interview. A simple, semi-structured, one-on-one interview can provide a very rich source of insights. Interviews work very well for gaining insights from both internal and external stakeholders, as well as from actual users of a system under consideration. Though, in this column, I’ll focus on stakeholder interviews rather than user interviews.

Baty, Steve. UXmatters (2007). Articles>Collaboration>Interviewing>SMEs


Confidentiality and Privilege in Mediation: A Dutch Perspective   (members only)

It is the author's bold submission, that Dutch case law, as developed by the Netherlands Supreme Court, might be of some general interest, as it is based on general principles, amongst others found in case law by the European Court for Human Rights. As Dutch is not Europe's most accessible language, some observations in English might be stimulating for those who are interested in this matter.

Bosnak, John. Mediate.com (2002). Articles>Collaboration>Regional>Netherlands



In the same way that the word 'truthiness' is not a real word but is gaining usage in our culture, so the word 'connectfulness' offers us in the professional arena a way to express an important aspect of our work. Just as truthiness says more than accuracy and is friendlier than truthfulness, so connectfulness says more than networked and is friendlier and more inclusive than connectedness.

Albing, Bill. Carolina Communique (2006). Articles>Content Management>Collaboration



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