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These responses are more qualitative in nature and are meant to help push our classroom conversation forward.
Great summary of state of the field:
Technical and professional communication (TPC) problems typically involve technology either as a process or as a product. TPC problems are rhetorical in nature; many TPC problems are complex, multidimensional, locally situated, and dynamic (or perhaps kinetic would be a better description considering the term’s technical connotations and its opposition to the term static). In general, TPC problems are hard to solve because of their complexity, subjectivity, social construction, and involvement of multiple stakeholders. Some TPC problems are so difficult—if not, impossible— to solve that they are considered “wicked” problems. Heuristics are helpful tools because they provide a systematic, process-driven approach to problem solving; heuristics interact with problem solving in a recursive process of analysis, application, and revision. Heuristics “connect abstract theories to individual, concrete problems” (Johnson-Eilola &Selber, p. 7). Johnson-Eilola & Selber describe heuristics as “rules of thumb,” whereas problem solving is “a higher-order activity” (p. 8).
Problems we’ve identified with this approach:
What we’ve been talking about in class is how this approach, as exciting as it is, potentially creates more problems for us as a field. Specifically:
As an example of this, a client I’m working with on a mobile app recently asked me for an explanation of what UX and how he can translate it for potential investors.
I could’ve easily said, “Well, you see, UX provides a systematic, process-driven approach to problem-solving. Many of the problems associated with UX are ‘wicked’ problems in that they can never definitively be solved.”
This is what I actually said:
Current UX works like this:
Series of principles/guidelines (UX Strategy) + customer personas + code = current UI
The UI is just an outcome, not the whole thing. This is hard for most folks to get, but it’s really the easiest thing to change.
Now, the caveat here is that the client is familiar with all the key terms I used. Is my response reductionist? ABSOLUTELY.
But that’s okay, because every response worth sending is reductionist, meaning purposefully reduced from a greater whole. So, my approach is in line with Johnson-Eilola and Selber, but goes one step further: it translates this approach into an actionable, understandable response to a specific problem.
The client wasn’t looking for a philosophical response, in other words, but a practical, understandable one. What would it look like if we did this in tech comm? Reduced every response to a problem to a practical, understandable one? What would tech comm theory look like then?
We’ll talk more about that soon.