Sunday, August 19, 2012

moving toward me1

In preparing for minor exam 1, I'm recovering a Sullivan & Porter essay that considers how writers view and use usability information. I'm finding a constructive framing position in the following conclusion they draw from this and previous studies: "... the writer's use of information is guided by that writer's rhetorical orientation, particularly his/her view of the audience/user."

While this all may seem obvious, its a position that I can use to foreground my on the exam. I need be conscious of -- and describe -- my rhetorical orientation and how it will/does guide my interpretation of usability results. This is important, as the exam will not be the usability and IA analysis, it will only be a discussion of the results of the analyses.

My rhetorical orientation is going to filter the results. So how does one go about recognizing and describing one's rhetorical orientation? I can start by asking a set of questions that Sullivan & Porter presented to their study subject:
  • What are my general beliefs about the way discourse works -- what is my model of communication?
  • Where do I place priority in writing -- who do I measure effective writing?
  • What are my attitudes toward authority -- who do I look to for validation of my perceptions an conclusions?
  • To what degree am I an advocate for the texts/systems I will be evaluating?
The difficulty here is that we all observe from a particular rhetorical stance. There really isn't a neutral or objective stance, even if it is something occasionally babbled on about by an old-school technical writer.

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