A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Dos and Don'ts for Designers Dealing with Business

Some clients genuinely don't and never will 'get it.' But think long and hard before laying the blame for a poorly executed project at the feet of the non-designer. A critical part of the designer's job is to explain why something has to be done a certain way. If you can't convince the client, who chooses to go another, disastrous route, that's not actually his or her fault. It's yours.

Walters, Helen. Core77 (2009). Design>Graphic Design>Communication>Collaboration


Dr. Strangemeeting (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Donuts)

Experts claim you'll spend 1500 hours in meetings during a typical 30-year career--that is, if you can duck some meetings by looking busy and if you can retire early. If you duck slowly or plan a long career, you could easily spend more time in meetings than you spend working. Fortunately, a little planning and some quick thinking should let you turn meetings into a blessing--or at least a tolerable evil.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (2001). Careers>Workplace>Collaboration


The Dynamics and Challenges of Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Case Study of 'Cortical Depth of Bench' in Group Proposal Writing   (peer-reviewed)

This study contributes to a discussion on collaboration and technical/professional communication in indeterminate zones or less familiar sites for collaboration. The interdisciplinary group for this case study collaborated to write a project proposal to solicit funds from the US government for constructing a test bed for immune buildings as a tactic for combating potential biological and chemical terrorist incidents. Their approach to collaboration coincided with several approaches previously addressed in professional and technical communication research. Novel and creative approaches emerged as a result of this collaboration, but in some instances, disciplinary differences, as manifested by disputes over concepts and terminologies, posed obstacles to collaboration. Such challenges necessitated strong leadership, which was also critical for managing group process.

Gooch, John C. Social Science Research Network (2005). Articles>Collaboration>Proposals


The Dynamics of Collaborative Design   (PDF)

The University of Colorado at Denver’s Internet Task Force designed a home page on the World Wide Web (WWW) for the School of Education, while simultaneously studying the group dynamics of the collaborative learning/design process. We developed a 4-point model which is appropriate for technically sophisticated adult learners, instructional designers, software developers, and information technologists. Critical features are reflection-in-action, building a common knowledge base, taking ownership of an authentic task, and generating research questions.

Sherry, Lorraine C. and Karen Madsen Myers. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Collaboration>TC


E-Mail Tutoring, A New Way To Do New Work   (peer-reviewed)

Although writing centers have used computers for over a decade now, they have used them primarily in autotutorials (computer-assisted instruction) and word processing. These applications reflect the influence of the process movement in composition studies and the writing center's commitment to the individual writer. Yet as the field moves towards the social in its scholarship and its writing technologies, writing centers might look towards e-mail to seek out new forms of tutor-student collaboration. The essay describes an experiment with e-mail tutoring and explores implications of new working conditions for online tutors.

Coogan, David. Computers and Composition (1995). Articles>Collaboration>Writing


Early and Often: How to Avoid the Design Revision Death Spiral

One lesson we've learned over the past several years here at Cooper is that on the vast majority of our projects, intimate client collaboration is a critical ingredient for success. This is a lesson that we have sometimes learned the hard way; collaboration can be messy, unpredictable and has often forced us to compromise what we thought was a supremely clear and elegant vision.

Cronin, Dave. uiGarden (2007). Design>Web Design>Redesign>Collaboration


Earning Respect: How To Improve Your Department's Image   (PDF)

Could your department's contributions be better understood and valued? This workshop will give you some ideas for improving your department's image. You'll learn some time-honored marketing techniques for finding out what your customers think of your efforts. You'll also find out how to use those techniques to change perceptions. You'll discover ways to prevent second-guessing of your document designs. And you'll find out how to promote your services to the rest of your organization.

Bolton, David. STC Proceedings (1994). Careers>Social Networking>Collaboration


Easing Into Agile Modeling

Agile modeling started out fairly complex and it grew a bit into its current form.

Ambler, Scott W. Agile Modeling (2006). Articles>Project Management>Agile>Collaboration



Implementing software modularity is a notoriously difficult task. Interoperability with a large code base written by a diverse community is also difficult to manage. At Eclipse, we have managed to succeed on both counts. In June 2010, the Eclipse Foundation made available its Helios coordinated release, with over 39 projects and 490 committers from over 40 companies working together to build upon the functionality of the base platform. What was the original architectural vision for Eclipse? How did it evolve? How does the architecture of an application serve to encourage community engagement and growth?

Moir, Kim. Architecture of Open Source Applications, The (2013). Articles>Collaboration>Software>Open Source


Eclipse: Don't Get Left in the Dark   (PDF)   (members only)

Offers a detailed look at Eclipse—an open-source integrated development environment—and also discusses why it is becoming increasingly important to technical communicators in the software industry.

Lorente, Fei Min. Intercom (2008). Articles>Collaboration>Online>Open Source


Educate Your Stakeholders!

Who decides what's best for a website? Highly skilled professionals who work with the site's users and serve as their advocates? Or schmucks with money? Most often, it's the latter. That's why a web designer's first job is to educate the people who hold the purse strings.

Diffily, Shane. List Apart, A (2007). Articles>Web Design>Collaboration


Educating the Clueless

Educating your boss and co-workers about what we do for them on the company Intranet can be a major headache or it can be a fun-filled, creative exercise. It is our choice.

Burns, Barbara. Wise-Women (2004). Articles>Collaboration>Technology


The Effect of Rater Training On Reducing Social Style Bias in Peer Evaluation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study employed a quasiexperimental control group design in a university setting to test the effect of a rater-training program on reducing social style bias in intragroup peer evaluations after controlling for ability based on GPA. Comparison of rating scores of the test group to the control group indicated minimal social style rating bias in the test group, whereas significant bias was exhibited in the control group. Implications for college instructors who use peer evaluations for grading in team projects are discussed.

May, Gary L. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Education>Collaboration


The Effect of Technological Innovation on Organizational Structure: Two Case Studies of the Effects of the Introduction of a New Technology on Informal Organizational Structures   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article looks at how two offices changed their informal work relationships and patterns in response to a major technological innovation in their field. This inductive study involves a cross-case analysis with field studies covering a two-year period. The research applies the models suggested by social action theory to help explain outcomes. By the end of this study, one office had lost its funding and was eliminated, while the other has survived and grown. The article examines whether the differing organizational responses to new core technology were related to each office's ability to survive.

Kahn, Russell L. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2000). Articles>Workplace>Technology>Collaboration


Effective Interpersonal Skills   (PowerPoint)

Become genuinely interested in other people. Call people by their names. Talk in terms of the other person's interest. Smile. Listen.

STC India (2003). Presentations>Collaboration>Workplace


Effective Interviewing: Get the Story   (PDF)

In this article, Geoffrey Hart offers the following tips on how to interview a subject matter expert (SME) for reliable, comprehensive, timely information:

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Intercom (2000). Articles>Interviewing>Collaboration


Effective Websites: The Responsibility of the Whole Organisation

Building an effective website is often seen exclusively as the job of the web team, and viewed as a design or technical issue. However, having worked with many different organisations, we would argue that often what stops them improving their website is the organisation itself. Developing an effective website often requires organisational change: it requires a culture where people at all levels in the organisation adopt behaviours that make a ‘good user experience’ an important goal. If the organisation is not focused on providing a good user experience, then the web team will be unable to build an effective website.

Burton-Taylor, Sarah. Usability News (2006). Articles>Web Design>Collaboration>Workplace


The Effects of Argument Explicitness on Responses to Advice in Supportive Interaction   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study assessed whether explicit articulations of a proposal's efficacy, feasibility, absence of limitations, and use of facework are effective strategies of advice giving in supportive interactions. Two hundred forty-eight college students read and responded to a hypothetical scenario in which they received advice from a friend. The findings of this study demonstrated that advice was more effective (resulting in higher perceptions of advice quality and facilitation of coping, as well as stronger intention to implement the advice) when advice givers outlined the efficacy of the advised action, explained the feasibility of undertaking the advised action, addressed the potential limitations of the advised action, and employed politeness strategies when giving advice. The study further found that perceptual counterparts of the manipulated message features largely mediated the effects of the message variations on the dependent variables.

Feng, Bo and Brant R. Burleson. Communication Research (2008). Articles>Collaboration>Advice>Rhetoric


The Effects of Favor and Apology on Compliance   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study was designed to test the effects of favor and apology on compliance and to explain any potential effect via indebtedness, gratitude, and liking. Two experiments were devised to accomplish these ends. In the first experiment favor and apology were varied in the absence of a transgression to see if apologizing for not providing a favor can be used proactively to increase compliance. In the second experiment favor and apology were varied in a more common scenario, following a transgression. Results show that favor has a positive effect on compliance mediated by gratitude when using a general prosocial request and by liking when using a more altruistic request. Results also suggest that apology has a positive effect on liking and that apology has an indirect effect on compliance under certain conditions.

Goei, Ryan, Anthony Roberto, Gary Meyer and Kellie Carlyle. Written Communication (2008). Articles>Collaboration


The Effects of Shared Cognition on Group Satisfaction and Performance: Politeness and Efficiency in Group Interaction   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study investigates the effects of shared cognition on group member satisfaction and group task performance. The hypotheses are that groups who have shared cognition concerning communication rules, such as politeness and efficiency, will be more satisfied with their group processes and will perform a task better than will those in groups lacking shared cognition concerning communication rules. The research involved 67 groups (N = 236) performing a radio assembly task for 20 minutes. Group members in the shared cognition condition received the same instructions to communicate politely (or efficiently). In the non-shared cognition condition, some members in a group received instructions to communicate politely and other members in the same group received instructions to communicate efficiently. The data are consistent with the part of the hypothesis relating to satisfaction but not to the one relating to performance.

Park, Hee Sun. Communication Research (2008). Articles>Collaboration


The Effects of Socio-Technical Enablers on Knowledge Sharing: An Exploratory Examination   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recently, the need for knowledge management has been drastically increasing so organizations may meet the high level of dynamic, complex business change and uncertainty. In particular, knowledge sharing has been recognized as a critical process through which organizational knowledge can be utilized. For successful knowledge sharing, companies need to capitalize on various socio-technical enablers. The primary objective of this paper is to provide a better understanding of how these enablers can affect knowledge sharing intention and behavior, and explore practical implications for knowledge sharing. For this purpose, the paper proposes a theoretical model to investigate these enablers from a socio-technical perspective. PLS (Partial Least Square) analysis was employed to validate the model. This field study involves 164 users. Furthermore, interviews with experts were investigated for practical implications. Our analysis reveals that social enablers such as trust and reward mechanisms are more important than technical support in isolation for facilitating knowledge sharing.

Choi, Sue Young, Young Sik Kang and Heeseok Lee. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Knowledge Management>Content Management>Collaboration


Electrify Your Work: Empowerment   (PDF)

We’ve all heard about empowerment. It means being innovative, taking risks, reaping rewards. But how do you apply it to your work? How can you empower yourself and others? This demonstration examines the true meaning of empowerment and offers time-tested scenarios to drive the points of empowerment home. See the empowered individual; feel the teamwork blossom; and learn how to “just say no”!

Walech-Roth, Laura L. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>Workplace>Collaboration


Elephants in the Living Room: The Destructive Role of Denial in Web Design

Four of your fellow development team members, all trying to do their specific jobs to the best of their abilities, have the power to sink your best effort at interaction design. As an interaction designer, it is your job to see they don't do so. (If you are not an interaction designer, read on anyway; you may be surprised to learn that you may be part of the problem.)

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Collaboration


Eleven Commandments for Conducting a Business Meeting   (PDF)

In response to Gary M. Smith's article 'Eleven Commandments for Business Meeting Etiquette,' which focuses on the conduct of those attending meetings, Sullivan presents eleven rules for the organizers and speakers of meetings.

Sullivan, Christine A. Intercom (2000). Articles>Management>Collaboration


An Embarrassing Little Secret

Here’s a common assumption I’ve heard: People who network are ultra-confident, slick businessy types who are in their element approaching complete strangers and doing business deals on the spot. Rubbish! There might be a bit of this going on, but there are always lots of nervous, uncomfortable people who are giving it a go too. And networking isn’t about quick wins – instant business deals or job offers – it’s a slower process, of building up a network (hence the name) of mutual benefit. Eventually this can turn into business deals or job offers – that’s the point of doing it – but very rarely right away.

Potts, Rachel. Communication Cloud (2009). Articles>Collaboration>Community Building



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