A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Action Research and Wicked Environmental Problems: Exploring Appropriate Roles for Researchers in Professional Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The authors report on a 3-year action-research project designed to facilitate public involvement in the planned dredging of a canal and subsequent disposal of the dredged sediments. Their study reveals ways that community members struggle to define the problem and work together as they gather, share, and understand data relevant to that problem. The authors argue that the primary goal of action research related to environmental risk should be to identify and support the strategies used by community members rather than to educate the public. The authors maintain that this approach must be supported by a thorough investigation of basic rhetorical issues (audience, genre, stases, invention), and they illustrate how they used this approach in their study.

Blythe, Stuart, Jeffrey T. Grabill and Kirk Riley. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Risk Communication>Community Building>Environmental


AIGA Design Forum: Information Design

Webster's Dictionary defines information as: "The act of informing; the communication of knowledge". Information design is a highly specialized area of design that involves making large amounts of complex information clear and accessible to audiences of one to several hundred thousand. This section of Design Forum looks at characteristics and issues connected to this interesting and often misunderstood area of design. It contains articles both general and specialized that address issues, constraints and characteristics and attempts to formulate a working definition for those who are new to the subject. Is information design the best example of 'form following function' in graphic design? Designers usually love it or hate it...why?

Irwin, Terry. AIGA. Design>Information Design>Community Building


AIGA Design Forum: Professional Practices

As a champion of creativity, quality and a strong sense of community, AIGA is a valuable resource for designers seeking support for the work we do. Professional Practices focuses on important issues designers face daily, from the pragmatic matters of management to the pursuit of design excellence and integrity. Sometimes our work can be magical, other times our work can be mundane, and on any given day we believe this forum is the place to seek best practices, share success stories, and address the challenges of our profession.

Shelton, Sam. AIGA. Design>Graphic Design>Professionalism>Community


Ajax for Chat

Learn to build a chat system into your Web application with Asynchronous JavaScript + XML (Ajax) and PHP. Your customers can talk to you and to each other about the content of the site without having to download or install any special instant-messaging software.

Herrington, Jack D. IBM (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Ajax


Ajax for Ratings and Comments

In the age of the people-powered Web, allowing your readers to rate and review content on your site is critical. Discover just how easy it is to add rating and commenting features to a site with Ajax.

Herrington, Jack D. IBM (2007). Design>Web Design>Community Building>Ajax


Anonymity and Online Community: Identity Matters

While anonymity may allow people to feel more free and disinhibited to discuss otherwise embarrassing or stigmatizing topics, it can also be a community's biggest enemy.

Grohol, John M. List Apart, A (2006). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Arrows in Our Quiver

On mailing lists, at conferences, in conversations at cocktail hours, I'm starting to see a growing awareness of how our various disciplines form a community of practice.

Olsen, George. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


The Art of the Signup

There is no single best way to have users sign up for an account online, because there are too many variables to be considered for this aspect of the user experience. Varying factors can include security, purpose of the account, understanding of the user at the time of signup, what information they must have ready and what they will have to do next, among other things. So to point to a cool new site – even a competitor’s – and say “I want a one-field signup process like that!” does not necessarily serve your needs or your user’s. In fact, there is an awesome site I recommend to people that suffers greatly from a confusing signup process because they tried to simplify it too much.

Colvin, Kris. Design for Users (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>User Experience


Assessing Community Informatics: A Review of Methodological Approaches for Evaluating Community Networks and Community Technology Centers  (link broken)   (PDF)

This paper analyzes emerging community informatics evaluation literature to develop an understanding of indicators used to gauge project impacts in community networks and technology centers.

O'Neil, Dara. Georgia Institute of Technology (2002). Articles>Communication>Community Building>Assessment


ATTW Members Directory   (members only)

This section of the site contains a listing of current ATTW members who have registered, including contact information. It is accessible to ATTW members only.

ATTW. Resources>Education>TC>Community


B2B: Help Your Fans Convince Their Bosses

B2B websites must support a more complex buying process than B2C sites. Three key goals are to make a buyer's shortlist, offer a downloadable advocacy kit, and build a reputation for great service.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2004). Design>Web Design>Usability>Community


Behind the Scenes of Creating Value

There's a lot of volunteer work that that goes on behind the scenes by chapter members to create value. Today, I'm inviting you to get involved so you can take part in and benefit from creating value.

Koster-Lenhardt, Victoria 'Vici'. Carolina Communique (2004). Articles>TC>Community Building>Volunteering


Belonging and Diaspora: The Chinese and the Internet

The Internet has become a new global phenomenon, enlarging new democratic discourse and has helped to foster new empowerment and learning experiences. It has also been argued that the Internet can be used for social and political mobilisation. In the case of ethnic groups, the Internet can be used to create new communities or to re-create past knowledges, enabling the maintenance and cultural reproduction of 'old' communities. In the case of the Chinese community, it has been pointed out that the Internet while has been useful in creating a Chinese presence, it nonetheless privileges essentialism and communal hegemony. This has been specifically the point made by some cultural theorists. In their study of the Chinese and Chinese-ness, cultural studies theorists have criticised the hegemonic formation implicit in discussions of the Chinese. They point out that the search by diasporic Chinese for an authentic Chinese meaning is inherently flawed and futile. In deconstructing the notion of Chinese and Chinese-ness, they argue that identities are contingent, often multiple and evolving. This paper takes seriously this criticism proffered by cultural theorists. It seeks to examine and locate their claims in the context of the relationship between diasporic politics, communalism and the Internet. The paper starts with a brief overview of the Chinese diaspora; it next examines the relationship between the new information and communication technologies and the Chinese diaspora. It will also look at how this new technology is shaping and changing the way Chinese diasporic lives are experienced. In so doing, it examines the claims advanced by cultural theorists, in particular their analysis of identity and its relationship with diasporic politics and essentialism.

Wong, Loong. First Monday (2003). Articles>Cyberculture>Community Building>Ethnicity


Benefits Too Great to Miss

To get the most out of your STC membership--take action. Join a committee, write an article for the newsletter, go to a workshop, volunteer for the chapter conference.

Feldman, Diane. Carolina Communique (2006). Articles>TC>Community Building>STC


Best Practices for Designing a Social News Website

In this article I’ll showcase some of the current top social news sites, will identify trends and patterns in their designs and suggest some best practices to follow when designing such sites. Let’s begin by looking at four popular social news sites and see how their designs compare.

Fadeyev, Dmitry. Webdesigner Depot (2009). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Beyond "Couch Potatoes": From Consumers to Designers and Active Contributors   (peer-reviewed)

The fundamental challenge for computational media is to contribute to the invention and design of cultures in which humans can express themselves and engage in personally meaningful activities. Cultures are substantially defined by their media and tools for thinking, working, learning, and collaborating. New media change (1) the structure and contents of our interests; (2) the nature of our cognitive and collaborative tools; and, (3) the social environment in which thoughts originate and evolve, and mindsets develop.

Fischer, Gerhard. First Monday (2002). Articles>Cyberculture>Web Design>Community


Beyond Markets and Firms: The Emergence of Open Source Networks   (peer-reviewed)

Although hierarchies and markets (i.e., autonomy) have been subject to extensive study, heterarchies represent different modalities of organizing that have been little researched. Drawing on complexity theory and the main features of complex evolving systems (CES), this paper sets out to remedy this imbalance by showing that heterarchies feature highly decentralized and relatively stable interactions which are coordinated through an emergent process of parametric adaptation. Implications in terms of learning are discussed casting a new light on the delicate issue of motivation in Open Source software development.

Iannacci, Federico and Eve Mitleton-Kelly. First Monday (2005). Articles>Collaboration>Community Building>Open Source


Blogs as Virtual Communities: Identifying a Sense of Community in the Julie/Julia Project  (link broken)

We must understand, first, why virtual communities are considered important, and, second, what the characteristics of a virtual community are. Then, we must determine if at least some blogs have these characteristics.

Blanchard, Anita. Into the Blogosphere (2004). Articles>Communication>Community Building>Blogging


Breaking Traditions and Taking Risks  (link broken)

Innovation is important in any area of life, and STC communities are no exception. Last year, STC Chicago and STC-NIU (Northern Illinois University) combined their strengths to facilitate innovation and to help revive a student chapter.

Loynes, Ericka. Tieline (2008). Articles>TC>Community Building>STC


A Bright Idea: Online Financial Transaction Services

Looking for a quick, simple way for your members to register and pay for chapter events? Many chapters are turning to online services that facilitate financial transactions over the Internet (also called P2P, or person-to-person transactions).

Tieline (2003). Articles>TC>Community Building


A Bright Idea: Technical Communication Week

If you’re looking for ways to boost your chapter’s profile, consider having your state declare a technical communication week. Currently, about a dozen states celebrate the event. One of the first was Arizona, where Thomas P. Barnett, a senior member with the Phoenix Chapter STC, has been manager of Arizona’s Technical Communication Week for several years. Last October marked the thirteenth year that technical communicators in Arizona have celebrated their profession.

Barnett, Thomas P. Tieline (2001). Articles>TC>Community Building


Bubba Awards: Recognition on a Shoestring   (PDF)

This paper is an explanation of a low-cost and high-fun method used by the Lone Star Chapter to recognize officers and committee managers for their work during the past year.

Skinner, Judith N. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Collaboration>Community Building>STC


Building a Community of Professional Communicators by Mapping Needs and Assets  (link broken)   (PDF)

For an institution with a regional focus, part of program building involves identifying resources in the region the program serves. This effort can be complicated in regions that generally lack the kind of high-tech industry that draws technical communicators. One cannot easily find a ready-madecommunity of professional communicators in such places, leaving some to wonder whether a professional writing program would be able to thrive. Nevertheless, communicators are ubiquitous, even if most of them don’t identify themselves as such.

Blythe, Stuart. CPTSC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Business Communication>Community Building


Building a Virtual Community: A Case Study of Professional and Technical Communication  (link broken)   (PDF)

The Diploma of Professional and Technical Communication is an Internet-based course, developed and taught by Christchurch Polytechnic in conjunction with University of Western Sydney, Nepean. Developing a student community is essential in an effective learning environment. The diploma is designed to encourage online student participation with the aim of promoting a virtual community. Elements of effective online course design include clear learning outcomes, tutors who motivate, activities to encourage participation, and prompt feedback. The analysis of student online interpersonal communication showed a successful virtual community was in fact created.

Draper, Richard, Kathy Knight and Alison Sanders. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Education>Community Building>Social Networking


Building an Online Learning Community

We decided to explore alternative methods for incorporating discussion into a distance-learning course in an attempt to facilitate the sense of community found in more traditional classrooms. Our goal through this study was to uncover factors that enable and hinder discussion between students in online learning environments and to determine whether the level of class discussion leads to an increased sense of community.

McDowell, Mindi, Stephanie Trunzo and Kristin Vincent. Orange Journal, The (2003). Articles>Education>Community Building>Social Networking



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