A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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A. Stanley Higgins and the History of STC's Journal   (PDF)

A profile of Stan Higgins, one of the first editors of STC's journal. Based on archival research and an interview with Higgins. Includes a table of journal titles (e.g., TWE Journal, STWE Review) and names of editors.

Malone, Edward A. IEEE PCS (2008). Articles>TC>Publishing>History


The Academic Job Market in Technical Communication, 2002-2003   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Analysis of the academic job market in 2002-2003 reveals that 118 nationally advertised academic jobs named technical or professional communication as a primary or secondary specialization. Of the 56 in the "primary" category that we were able to contact, we identified 42 jobs filled, 10 unfilled, and 4 pending. However, only 29% of the jobs for which technical or professional communication was the primary specialization were filled by people with degrees in the field, and an even lower percent (25%) of all jobs, whether advertised for a primary or secondary specialization, were filled by people with degrees in the field. Search chairs report a higher priority on teaching and research potential than on a particular research specialization, and 62% of all filled positions involve teaching in related areas (composition, literature, or other writing courses).

Rude, Carolyn D. and Kelli Cargile Cook. Technical Communication Quarterly (2002). Careers>Academic>TC>History


And They Said Computers Were Just a Fad   (PDF)

Maslowski documents the rapidly changing technologies used by the technical communication profession.

Maslowski, David S. Intercom (2000). Articles>Technology>History


Answering the Call: Toward a History of Proposals   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

While scholars have begun to write a history of reports and instructions, little scholarship exists on the history of proposals. To fill this gap, I analyze proposals written by Dorothy Wordsworth and Anne Macvicar Grant, ca. 1800. My analysis uses contemporary rhetorical theory to determine how they structured their writing and incorporated rhetorical appeals to achieve their goals. My findings show that their texts should be placed on a continuum of the history and development of the proposal genre. Further findings suggest that their use of contemporary rhetorical theories authorized Wordsworth's and Grant's discourse to successfully affect change.

Meloncon, Lisa. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2010). Articles>Grants>Proposals>History


April 15, 2002, through August 15, 2002   (PDF)

This report covers specifications, standards, and amendments received from April 15, 2002, through August 15, 2002.

Bach, Claudia. Intercom (2002). Articles>History>TC


Architecting Our Profession

The change within the interface design process over the past five to ten years has coincided with an increasing number of large companies refining an industrial style model of design instead of focusing on specialization or interaction sustainability through design accuracy.

Evans, Clifton. Boxes and Arrows (2005). Design>Web Design>History


Archiving Experience Design: A Virtual Roundtable Discussion

The following discussion was conducted over a six-week period late in 2002. We invited members of Loop’s advisory board and several distinguished guests to address the question of how we, as an emerging community of interest, might begin to address the critical question of preserving the history of our field.

AIGA (2003). Design>User Experience>History


Arthur Levitt and the SEC: Promoting Plain English   (PDF)

Intercom's assistant editor profiles a recent recipient of STC's President's Award. The Securities and Exchange Commission was honored for requiring plain English in all disclosure statements filed with the SEC.

Nielan, Cate. Intercom (2000). Articles>TC>History>Minimalism


As It Was in the Beginning: Distance Education and Technology Past, Present, and Future   (peer-reviewed)

Many features of present-day Distance Education (DE) writing instruction would have been inconceivable when DE was first undertaken: On-demand instruction, nearly instantaneous content delivery, and virtual classrooms capable of facilitating real-time conversations between students on different continents about events that may have taken place only minutes ago, a half a world away. All of these things would have seemed as unlikely to early DE practitioners as holding classes on the moon, yet the many of the primary issues and concerns of twenty-first century DE, particularly with respect to the significance and effects of technology, have persisted throughout the many years of its existence. Now, as DE courses are being developed and carried out by an unprecedented number of university-level educators, it is time to reexamine the long history of DE in hopes of better understanding the ways in which seemingly revolutionary developments such as virtual classroom and e-mail collaborations have more in common conceptually with early iterations of DE than might be supposed. This work represents an attempt to identify some of those commonalities, with respect to both the ways in which DE technology has functioned in particular historical contexts and to their significance to the field of DE in a more global sense. It is hoped that through such investigations we will become better able to shape DE courses so as to take advantage of the functionalities of new technologies without losing the benefits of DE that have traditionally drawn students and teachers to it.

Fishman, T. Kairos (2003). Articles>Education>Online>History


"As we are Both Deceived": Strategies of Status Repair in 19th Century Hudson's Bay Company Correspondence   (PDF)

Little attention has yet been paid to the unique workplace that the Hudson's Bay Company constituted and the unique discursive activity on which that workplace fundamentally depended.

Venema, Kathleen. Rhetor (2004). Articles>Business Communication>History


As We May Think

Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose.

Bush, Vannevar. Atlantic Monthly (1945). Articles>Collaboration>Research>History


The Association of Teachers of Technical Writing: The Emergence of Professional Identity   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article attempts to summarize the history of ATTW. It focuses on issues that led to the need for an organization devoted to technical writing, and the individuals who were leaders in ATTW, as well as in NCTE and CCCC, whose efforts provided the foundation for the presence of technical writing as a legitimate teaching and research discipline. We draw on existing historical pieces and the contributions provided by many of the first ATTW members to capture the history of ATTW. We describe the major changes in ATTW from 1973-2007 and conclude with our reflections, as well as important questions we believe to be critical to the future of ATTW.

Kynell, Teresa and Elizabeth Tebeaux. Technical Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>TC>History>Case Studies


Authority and Audience-Centered Writing Strategies: Sexism in 19th-century Sewing Machine Manuals   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article examines audience-centered writing strategies in two very early sewing machine manuals and considers the interplay between such strategies and sexism in technical writing. It considers the difference between non-sexist and gender-neutral writing, and concludes that avoiding sexism in technical writing is difficult at best—and perhaps impossible—in any society that assigns work (and correspondingly, technologies) for use according to the gender of the user.

Durack, Katherine T. Technical Communication Online (1998). Articles>History>Documentation


Authors' Rights   (peer-reviewed)

With the advent of powerful networked desktop computers and the World Wide Web, authors have for the first time acquired control of the technology for scholarly communication. That radical change prompts the question of how authors have in the past fared under copyright law, and how they might fare in the future. Anglo-American copyright law has always attempted to regulate the interests of three parties: the author, the publisher, and the public. Before there was a formal copyright law, royal patents granted to the Stationer's Company created printing monopolies and facilitated state censorship. The concerns of authors were hardly considered. The 1710 Statute of Anne, our first formal copyright law, left printers the dominant power in relations between printers and authors. What is most remarkable about the Statute of Anne is that the state's interest began to shift from censorship toward the creation of a public domain for intellectual property.

Bennett, Scott. Journal of Electronic Publishing (1999). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>History


The Banality of Rhetoric? Assessing Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" Against Current Scholarship on the Holocaust   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Since 1992, Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" on the rhetoric of technical communication during the Holocaust has become a reference point for discussions of ethics. But how does his thesis compare to current understandings of the Holocaust? As this article describes, Katz was in step with the trend two decades ago to universalize the lessons of the genocide but his thesis presents key problems for Holocaust scholars today. Against his assertion that pure technological expediency was the ethos of Nazi Germany, current scholarship emphasizes the role of ideology. Does that invalidate his thesis? Katz's analysis of rhetoric and his universalizing application to the Holocaust are two claims that may be considered separately. Yet even if one does not agree that "expediency" is inherent in Western rhetoric, Katz has raised awareness that phronesis is socially constructed so that rhetoric can be unethically employed. Thus, rather than remain an uncritically accepted heuristic for technical communicators, "The Ethic of Expediency" can be a starting point for ongoing exploration into the ethical and rhetorical dimensions of the genre.

Ward, Mark. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Education>History>Ethics


Baumol's Disease: Is There a Cure?

Baumol would never have expected in 1967 that a technological innovation like the internet would make it possible to create a sealed-off labor force in a third-world country.

Hackos, Bill. Center for Information-Development Management (2005). Articles>Technology>History


Best of Type--Worst of Type

From a production standpoint, desktop typography is a vast improvement over phototypesetting. No more stinking chemistry or expensive dedicated systems! Also, the ability to fine tune, noodle, and tweak layouts is an immensely satisfying luxury, compared to the typographic systems of the '70s and '80s.

King, Liana. NALC (1997). Design>Typography>History


Bibliography of Articles on the History of Technical Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This collection of thirty-six articles exposes the problem and the promise of historical research in technical writing. The central problem is that historical research in technical writing has too often been focused only on celebrated authors or scientists as technical writers. The central promise contained in some very recent essays is that historical research in technical communications is beginning to consider the slow evolution of technical communication taking place across a broad spectrum of both celebrated and uncelebrated writers. This historical approach, though more difficult to carry out, is immensely more accurate and meaningful.

Brockmann, R. John. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1983). Resources>Bibliographies>Technical Writing>History


Blasts from the Past

It does not matter if they were published 10 years ago or 100 years ago, old scientific papers may be more important than you think.

Marx, Werner and Manuel Cardona. Physics World (2004). Articles>Scientific Communication>History>Research


Brewster Kahle Saves the Web

The Internet Archive is one of the largest archives of digital media in existence. It contains five times more information than is in the Library of Congress and several times more information than is currently available publicly on the web. David Womack interviewed its creator, Brewster Kahle, for Loop.

Womack, David. AIGA (2002). Articles>Web Design>History


A Brief History of Eye-Tracking

Ever notice how some websites seem to just flow, while others feel harder to navigate? There are many contributing factors in building usable web sites and applications, but one of the most interesting areas of research must be eye-tracking. Today, eye-tracking is used heavily by marketing groups to craft effective designs in advertising, and by usability researchers to define the optimum user experience. This technology is anything but new though. In fact, eye-tracking goes all the way back to the 1800’s.

Leggett, David. UX Booth (2010). Articles>Usability>History>Eye Tracking


A Brief History of Markup

HTML is the unifying language of the World Wide Web. Using just the simple tags it contains, the human race has created an astoundingly diverse network of hyperlinked documents, from Amazon, eBay, and Wikipedia, to personal blogs and websites dedicated to cats that look like Hitler. HTML5 is the latest iteration of this lingua franca. While it is the most ambitious change to our common tongue, this isn’t the first time that HTML has been updated. The language has been evolving from the start.

Keith, Jeremy. List Apart, A (2010). Articles>Web Design>HTML>History


A Brief History of STC   (PDF)

Nielan summarizes fifty years of Society history and identifies key events that influenced the development of technical communication.

Nielan, Cate. Intercom (2003). Articles>TC>History


A Brief History of US Fair Use

In our role as writing teachers, we’ve been asked to adopt 'post-modern practice' by releasing old-fashioned notions of single authorship and obsolete pedagogy that forbids plagiarism under a 'detect-and-punish' regime. Instead, we are to teach 'digital ethics' and Fair Use. But what exactly is 'Fair Use'? This is a doctrine we as writing teachers need to understand because while public figures such as Lawrence Lessig, Jessica Litman, and Siva Vaidhyanathan argue that the law needs to be changed, in the meantime we have classes to teach. Writing teachers increasingly teach writing on networked computers, and therefore our need to understand the basic doctrine of Fair Use is as great as our need to understand the rules of anti-plagiarism. This paper first reviews current US Copyright Law, and then briefly traces the concept of 'Fair Use' from its inception as 'fair abridgment' in 1700’s England to its current interpretation in US case law. US Copyright policy, the regime legally defining invention, imitation, compilation, and appropriation, is set through complex interactions between a variety of players. These influential interactions include the habits of writers. The tension between stakeholders who wish to share, and stakeholders who wish to contain and control information is viewed as a 'battle,' 'war,' and 'fight'. In this fight, the writing student and teacher thus become actors, willingly or not, determining how copyright operates. Because we as teachers are key players in the continual remediation of copyright policy, we should have a basic critical understanding of US Copyright Law and how Fair Use is situated within our copyright regime.

Rife, Martine Courant. Social Science Research Network (2006). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>History



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