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Jeffrey Walker, Chair PAR 3, Mailcode B5500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-6109

Clay Spinuzzi

Professor Ph.D., 1999, Iowa State University

Clay Spinuzzi

Contact

Biography

Clay Spinuzzi is a professor of rhetoric and writing at The University of Texas at Austin. Spinuzzi's interests include research methods and methodology, workplace research, and computer-mediated activity. He has written three books: Tracing Genres through Organizations (MIT Press, 2003); Network (Cambridge University Press, 2008); and Topsight (via Amazon CreateSpace, 2013).

Spinuzzi teaches graduate courses in the Department of English and the School of Information as well as in the Human Dimensions of Organizations MA program.

 

Interests

Activity theory, genre theory, actor-network theory, human-computer interaction, workplace studies, qualitative research, knowledge work

RHE 328 • Writing For Nonprofits

43775 • Spring 2015
Meets MW 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Do you feel passionately about a cause—such as protecting the environment, ending world hunger, or ensuring civil rights for all people living in Texas? Can you see yourself working for an organization whose main purpose is to raise awareness about that issue and make a difference in people’s lives? If so, Writing for Nonprofits is for you.

Nonprofits do a lot of good in their communities, but their survival depends on how well they do two things: 1) promote their mission and 2) create opportunities for people to support it.  In this class, you’ll learn about the crucial role writing plays in achieving these goals. Our objectives are to:

1. understand the rhetorical situation inherent in nonprofit work

2. think critically and innovatively about the way various nonprofit messages are constructed and become adept at creating them

3. learn how to research and assess potential donors, using Internet and print sources

4. develop the knowledge and skills necessary to write a compelling grant proposal

5. develop collaboration skills

This service-learning course provides you with the unique opportunity to work directly with local non-profit agencies and create materials their directors can use for publicity and fundraising. The materials you’ll write for class will be the kind that employees of nonprofits create on a daily basis. Each of you will write a feature article and work with a group to research and write a grant directed at a particular foundation. You will also design a project of your own that meets the needs of one of our partner organizations or another local nonprofit.

We will have several guest speakers in class this semester. Some have specific writing needs and would like your help; others will simply be here to share some of their hard-won experience in the nonprofit realm and field your questions about nonprofit careers.  

Texts:

Strategic Communications for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide to Working with the Media by Kathy Bonk (print or Kindle)

Winning Grants Step by Step: The Complete Workbook for Planning, Developing and Writing Successful Proposals by Tori O'Neal-McElrath (print or Kindle)

21st Century Feature Writing by Carla Johnson (print only; you can get it used on Amazon for 1 cent)

The Future of Nonprofits by David J. Neff and Randal Moss (print or Kindle)

Miscellaneous readings (see links in the schedule)

Grades:

This course has 6 major projects:

Project 1: Analyzing a nonprofit’s needs (15%)

Project 2: Analyzing a nonprofit’s current communication strategy (20%)

Project 3: Researching a foundation (15%)

Project 4: Writing a grant to a foundation (25%)

Project 5: Writing a feature article for a nonprofit (15%)

Project 6: Developing an innovative strategy for donor engagement (Group project, 10%)

RHE 328 • Prins Of Technical Writing

44775 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Technical writing is nonfiction writing meant to make the complex simple. It informs, instructs, and persuades. And it can take many forms -- manuals, references, instructions, correspondence, reports, and proposals, among others. Whatever form is used, technical writing's focus is to ensure that readers can make informed choices, understand complex information, and follow complex procedures.

In this class, technical writing is treated rhetorically: We will build on lessons of rhetorical analysis, organization, and style learned in previous classes, but we will apply those lessons to concrete real-world problems. By the end of the class, students should be able to:

 - Understand the relationship between technical writing and rhetoric,

- Identify and fulfill the purposes of technical writing: informing, instructing, persuading
,

- Identify and produce several genres of technical writing, including manuals, instructions, correspondence, and reports,


- Use a clear, parsimonious writing style,

- Use visual cues such as headings and lists to signal text hierarchy and help readers find content
,

- Select and use appropriate visual aids
,

- Identify and plan information spaces for eliciting user content.

 

This class is particularly suited for liberal arts majors who want to gain a basic understanding of technical writing or who want to improve their writing clarity.

Course Requirements

Students will complete four major projects as well as daily minor assignments.

Grade Breakdown

Project 1: Instructions (includes technical definition) (20%)


Project 2: Report (20%) 
Project 3: Proposal (20%)


Project 4: Manual and user feedback forum (includes correspondence) (40%)


Daily minor assignments will be folded into the major assignment grades.

Required Texts

The Handbook of Technical Writing Ninth Edition by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu

Team Writing by Joanna Wolfe (Bundled with Alred et al.)

Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by Anne Gentle

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies

44790 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

How do people use texts to communicate and solve problems in organizations - and how can we help them improve? In this class, you'll learn how to answer that question. You'll design and conduct a field study of an organization, watching actual people communicate and solve actual problems. You'll analyze the results, generating a model of how they communicate and where their solutions do and don't work. Finally, you'll design a text that will help them fix their problems.

RHE 330C involves four major projects:

 Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (20%). In Project 1, you will identify a research site, gain permission to do research there, and design a research study. You'll follow this design as you conduct the study in Project 2 and analyze the results in Project 3. At the end of Project 12, you’ll turn in a research proposal, consent form, and interview script.

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (30%). In Project 2, you’ll put your research design into action, observing people, interviewing them, and looking at their texts. At the end of Project 2, you’ll turn in your data and an interim report of your findings.

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (35%). In Project 3, you’ll carefully analyze your data by using several models, which will help you see patterns in how people work and in the problems they encounter and will help you recommend changes. At the end of Project 3, you’ll turn in a recommendation report and the models.

Project 4: Testing a solution (15%). Now that you have diagnosed issues at the research site and generated recommendations for addressing them, it's time to turn those abstract recommendations into concrete solutions. Your group will use one or more participatory design techniques to develop and test an early-stage solution implementing one of your recommendations. At the end of Project 4, you’ll turn in the solution along with a report describing how well the solution worked.

 Course Requirements

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (6pp. proposal, consent form, interview questions).

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (6pp interim report plus collateral materials). 

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (6pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Project 4: Testing a solution (4pp recommendation report plus collateral materials). 

Grading

Project 1: 20%

Project 2: 30%

Project 3: 35%

Project 4: 15%

Texts

Spinuzzi, Tracing Genres Through Organizations

Online readings at the course site

RHE 330C • Networked Writing

45115 • Spring 2014
Meets MW 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Writing is perhaps our most flexible tool. Since its invention in 3200 BCE, this tool has been used for a remarkable range of activities—and has been combined with other technologies to shape what is possible in different societies and contexts. And the current information and communication technologies—such as social media, instant messaging, and collaborative writing spaces—are certainly making their mark, changing how we read, write, compose, and argue.

In this class, we’ll examine writing as a tool that interacts with various information and communication technologies, and we’ll try out various information and communication technologies to better understand how they interact.

Assignments and Grading

Project 1: Offline writing. (20%)

Not only has writing been offline for almost all of its history, it has been done in specific media: fired clay, bones, papyrus, marble, paper, sticky notes. In fact, it’s hard to go an hour without encountering some kind of offline writing. As Karlsson shows in her article, even trades that seem to have nothing to do with writing actually involve writing. In a highly literate society, writing is applied to most of our problems.

Find and analyze four pieces of offline writing that are related to each other in a specific activity. Examples might include:

  • a shopping list, a printed circular for a grocery store, a sticker on an apple, and a sign advertising a sale.
  • a flyer for a Greek event, a ticket for the event, a sign at the event, a t-shirt commemorating the event.
  • a course syllabus, course notes, an assignment for the course, a picture of the whiteboard during a lecture.
  • the Starbucks menu, a chalkboard showing today’s specials, a receipt, a paper coffee cup with the customer’s name written on it.

Analyze the pieces of offline writing in these terms:

  • Purpose. What does each piece of writing do within the activity? What role does it play in comparison with other examples of writing?
  • Medium. Why is each piece of writing in this medium rather than others? How does this medium help it to achieve its purpose?
  • Links. How does this piece of writing link up with other pieces? For instance, the barista may take a name for the receipt, but also may write it in marker on a Starbucks cup. In what ways do these pieces of writing become associated?
  • Strengths and weaknesses. In becoming associated, these different texts may reinforce each others’ purposes or roles in the activity. but they may also undermine them. Discuss some ways in which the four pieces of writing reinforce or undermine each other.

Include pictures or scans of each piece of writing, either as embedded figures or as separate uploads.

Project 2: Social writing. (25%)

We’ve done offline writing for a long time, but two trends—universal literacy and widespread access to digitally based information and communication technologies—have radically increased both the variety and the interactivity of writing. We can now keep in close, interactive contact with a variety of relationships via social networking (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus) and messaging (e.g., SMS/texting, instant messaging, GroupMe, Skype, Google Hangouts). And as the Haas et al. piece illustrated, this new (historically speaking) affordance has led to behavior that older people might find bizarre—such as texting someone who is in the same space.

How have information and communication technologies changed the nature of relationships, either close or distant? Write a paper that explores this question. For this paper:

  • Interview 2-3 people who has grown up with, and uses, social media or messaging. Specifically, find people who have used social media or messaging since high school (at the latest). Discuss the following:

○      What do they use social networking or messaging to do? Under what conditions? Ask for specific examples that you can capture, either via screen capture or by writing verbatim.

○      How do they use social networking or messaging to interact? For instance, do they comment on others’ status? Do they monitor how others feel or what others are doing?

  • Interview 1-2 people who did not grow up with social media or messaging. These could be relatives, employers, professors, etc. Discuss the following:

○      Do they use social media or messaging? If so, how do they use it? If not, why not?

○      What have they found most counterintuitive about social media?

Based on the research above, write a paper that compares and contrasts the expectations of the two groups. Compare both sets of expectations to your own.

Project 3: Collaborative writing. (30%)

Collaborative writing has become increasingly important in endeavors from entertainment to business to education, helped along by new and powerful ways to collaborate. As Zachry et al. show, publicly available online services have created an additional collaborative layer over businesses; as Sherlock demonstrates, collaborative texts such as wikis are key to making certain activities in World of Warcraft happen. And of course Wikipedia is the poster child for massive collaboratively written endeavors.

This project involves examining such collaborative writing spaces, but it also involves using them.

In groups of 3-4 people, select a collaboratively written text to examine and evaluate. You might consider texts such as

  • a wiki for an online game or a Wikipedia page
  • a Google Doc for an open source software project
  • a piece of documentation in a content management system

As you examine the text, you’ll collaborate on an evaluation of the text. Specifically, you’ll look at features such as:

  • Identity. Are collaborators identified? How are they identified—with full names, pseudonyms, etc.?
  • History. Does the system show the history of changes? How do you get to it, and to what degree does it show the changes?
  • Controls. Who controls the text? What levels of control are embedded in the software? What roles are established? How do people move from one role to another?
  • Contributions. What features allow people to make contributions? Are these features easy or hard to use? Speculate on how the qualities of these features affect the quantity and quality of the contributions.

Collaboratively write a paper based on the evaluation.

  • Use collaborative writing software (such as Google Docs, a wiki, or a content management system) to write and submit the paper..
  • Use a project management tool (Basecamp, Asana, Wrike, Google Sheets, etc.) to plan, track, and adjust writing tasks.’

Project 4: Networked writing and alliances. (25%)

In their book The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Ronfeldt et al. describe how the Zapatistas took advantage of relatively new information and communication technologies (new in 1998, anyway) to network different actors with different agendas, resulting in alliances that quickly changed the dynamics of revolution. We see similar tactics being used with more recent actions leveraging more recent technologies: the Arab Spring used Facebook and Twitter; Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party use social media and discussion boards; the Syrian rebels use Skype; Anonymous uses a variety of channels.

Select one instance—possibly from these, possibly from other instances—and research it. Specifically, examine how entities with different agendas meet and network those agendas via information and communication technologies.

Required Texts and Course Readings

Baten, J., & Van Zanden, J. L. (2008). Book production and the onset of modern economic growth. Journal of Economic Growth, 13(3), 217–235.

Bender, E. M., Morgan, J. T., Oxley, M., Zachry, M., Hutchinson, B., Marin, A., Zhang, B., et al. (2011). Annotating Social Acts : Authority Claims and Alignment Moves in Wikipedia Talk Pages. LSM  ’11: Proceedings of the Workshop on Languages in Social Media (pp. 48–57). Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computational Linguistics.

Ferro, T., Divine, D., & Zachry, M. (2012). Knowledge Workers and Their Use of Publicly Available Online Services for Day-to-day Work. SIGDOC  ’12:Proceedings of the 30th ACM international conference on Design of communication (pp. 47–53). New York: ACM.

Hutchins, E. (1995). How a cockpit remembers its speeds. Cognitive Science, 19(3), 265–288.

Karlsson, A.-M. (2009). Positioned by Reading and Writing: Literacy Practices, Roles, and Genres in Common Occupations. Written Communication, 26(1), 53–76. doi:10.1177/0741088308327445

Law, J. (1986). On the methods of long distance control: Vessels, navigation and the Portuguese route to India. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 234–263). Boston: Routledge.

Morgan, J. T., & Zachry, M. (2010). Negotiating with angry mastodons. In Wayne Lutters & Diane H. Sonnenwald (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th ACM international conference on Supporting group work - GROUP  ’10 (pp. 165–168). New York: ACM.

O’Leary, M., Orlikowski, W., & Yates, J. (2002). Distributed work over the centuries: Trust and control in the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670-1826. In P. J. Hinds & S. Kiesler (Eds.), Distributed Work (pp. 27–54). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Oxley, M., Morgan, J. T., Zachry, M., & Hutchinson, B. (2010). “What I Know Is …”: Establishing Credibility on Wikipedia Talk Pages. WikiSym  ’10: Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (pp. 2–3). New York: ACM.

Ronfeldt, D., Arquilla, J., Fuller, G. E., & Fuller, M. (1999). The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

Sherlock, L. (2009). Genre, Activity, and Collaborative Work and Play in World of Warcraft: Places and Problems of Open Systems in Online Gaming. Journal Of Business And Technical Communication, 23(3), 263–293.

Schmandt-Besserat, D., & Erard, M. (2008). Origins and Forms of Writing. In C. Bazerman (Ed.), Handbook of research on writing: History, society, school, individual, text (pp. 7–22). New York: Erlbaum.

Smart, G. (2008). Writing and the social formation of economy. In C. Bazerman (Ed.), Handbook of research on writing: History, society, school, individual, text (pp. 123–135). New York: Erlbaum.

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies

45120 • Spring 2014
Meets MW 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

How do people use texts to communicate and solve problems in organizations - and how can we help them improve? In this class, you'll learn how to answer that question. You'll design and conduct a field study of an organization, watching actual people communicate and solve actual problems. You'll analyze the results, generating a model of how they communicate and where their solutions do and don't work. Finally, you'll design a text that will help them fix their problems.

RHE 330C involves four major projects:

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (20%). In Project 1, you will identify a research site, gain permission to do research there, and design a research study. You'll follow this design as you conduct the study in Project 2 and analyze the results in Project 3. At the end of Project 12, you’ll turn in a research proposal, consent form, and interview script.

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (30%). In Project 2, you’ll put your research design into action, observing people, interviewing them, and looking at their texts. At the end of Project 2, you’ll turn in your data and an interim report of your findings.

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (35%). In Project 3, you’ll carefully analyze your data by using several models, which will help you see patterns in how people work and in the problems they encounter and will help you recommend changes. At the end of Project 3, you’ll turn in a recommendation report and the models.

Project 4: Testing a solution (15%). Now that you have diagnosed issues at the research site and generated recommendations for addressing them, it's time to turn those abstract recommendations into concrete solutions. Your group will use one or more participatory design techniques to develop and test an early-stage solution implementing one of your recommendations. At the end of Project 4, you’ll turn in the solution along with a report describing how well the solution worked.

Course Requirements

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (6pp. proposal, consent form, interview questions).

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (6pp interim report plus collateral materials). 

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (6pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Project 4: Testing a solution (4pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Grading

Project 1: 20%

Project 2: 30%

Project 3: 35%

Project 4: 15%

Texts

Spinuzzi, Tracing Genres Through Organizations

Online readings at the course site

RHE 328 • Prins Of Technical Writing

44825 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Technical writing is nonfiction writing meant to make the complex simple. It informs, instructs, and persuades. And it can take many forms -- manuals, references, instructions, correspondence, reports, and proposals, among others. Whatever form is used, technical writing's focus is to ensure that readers can make informed choices, understand complex information, and follow complex procedures.

In this class, technical writing is treated rhetorically: We will build on lessons of rhetorical analysis, organization, and style learned in previous classes, but we will apply those lessons to concrete real-world problems. By the end of the class, students should be able to:

- Understand the relationship between technical writing and rhetoric,

- Identify and fulfill the purposes of technical writing: informing, instructing, persuading
,

- Identify and produce several genres of technical writing, including manuals, instructions, correspondence, and reports,


- Use a clear, parsimonious writing style,

- Use visual cues such as headings and lists to signal text hierarchy and help readers find content
,

- Select and use appropriate visual aids
,

- Identify and plan information spaces for eliciting user content.

This class is particularly suited for liberal arts majors who want to gain a basic understanding of technical writing or who want to improve their writing clarity.

Course Requirements

Students will complete four major projects as well as daily minor assignments.

Grade Breakdown

Project 1: Instructions (includes technical definition) (20%)


Project 2: Report (20%) 
Project 3: Proposal (20%)


Project 4: Manual and user feedback forum (includes correspondence) (40%)


Daily minor assignments will be folded into the major assignment grades.

Required Texts

The Handbook of Technical Writing Ninth Edition by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu

Team Writing by Joanna Wolfe (Bundled with Alred et al.)

Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by Anne Gentle

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies

44840 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

How do people use texts to communicate and solve problems in organizations - and how can we help them improve? In this class, you'll learn how to answer that question. You'll design and conduct a field study of an organization, watching actual people communicate and solve actual problems. You'll analyze the results, generating a model of how they communicate and where their solutions do and don't work. Finally, you'll design a text that will help them fix their problems.

RHE 330C involves four major projects:

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (20%). In Project 1, you will identify a research site, gain permission to do research there, and design a research study. You'll follow this design as you conduct the study in Project 2 and analyze the results in Project 3. At the end of Project 12, you’ll turn in a research proposal, consent form, and interview script.

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (30%). In Project 2, you’ll put your research design into action, observing people, interviewing them, and looking at their texts. At the end of Project 2, you’ll turn in your data and an interim report of your findings.

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (35%). In Project 3, you’ll carefully analyze your data by using several models, which will help you see patterns in how people work and in the problems they encounter and will help you recommend changes. At the end of Project 3, you’ll turn in a recommendation report and the models.

Project 4: Testing a solution (15%). Now that you have diagnosed issues at the research site and generated recommendations for addressing them, it's time to turn those abstract recommendations into concrete solutions. Your group will use one or more participatory design techniques to develop and test an early-stage solution implementing one of your recommendations. At the end of Project 4, you’ll turn in the solution along with a report describing how well the solution worked.

Course Requirements

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (6pp. proposal, consent form, interview questions).

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (6pp interim report plus collateral materials). 

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (6pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Project 4: Testing a solution (4pp recommendation report plus collateral materials). 

Grading

Project 1: 20%

Project 2: 30%

Project 3: 35%

Project 4: 15%

 Texts

Spinuzzi, Tracing Genres Through Organizations

Online readings at the course site

RHE 330C • Networked Writing

44392 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Writing is perhaps our most flexible tool. Since its invention in 3200 BCE, this tool has been used for a remarkable range of activities—and has been combined with other technologies to shape what is possible in different societies and contexts. And the current information and communication technologies—such as social media, instant messaging, and collaborative writing spaces—are certainly making their mark, changing how we read, write, compose, and argue.

In this class, we’ll examine writing as a tool that interacts with various information and communication technologies, and we’ll try out various information and communication technologies to better understand how they interact.

Assignments and Grading

Project 1: Offline writing. (20%)

Not only has writing been offline for almost all of its history, it has been done in specific media: fired clay, bones, papyrus, marble, paper, sticky notes. In fact, it’s hard to go an hour without encountering some kind of offline writing. As Karlsson shows in her article, even trades that seem to have nothing to do with writing actually involve writing. In a highly literate society, writing is applied to most of our problems.

Find and analyze four pieces of offline writing that are related to each other in a specific activity. Examples might include:

  • a shopping list, a printed circular for a grocery store, a sticker on an apple, and a sign advertising a sale.
  • a flyer for a Greek event, a ticket for the event, a sign at the event, a t-shirt commemorating the event.
  • a course syllabus, course notes, an assignment for the course, a picture of the whiteboard during a lecture.
  • the Starbucks menu, a chalkboard showing today’s specials, a receipt, a paper coffee cup with the customer’s name written on it.

Analyze the pieces of offline writing in these terms:

  • Purpose. What does each piece of writing do within the activity? What role does it play in comparison with other examples of writing?
  • Medium. Why is each piece of writing in this medium rather than others? How does this medium help it to achieve its purpose?
  • Links. How does this piece of writing link up with other pieces? For instance, the barista may take a name for the receipt, but also may write it in marker on a Starbucks cup. In what ways do these pieces of writing become associated?
  • Strengths and weaknesses. In becoming associated, these different texts may reinforce each others’ purposes or roles in the activity. but they may also undermine them. Discuss some ways in which the four pieces of writing reinforce or undermine each other.

Include pictures or scans of each piece of writing, either as embedded figures or as separate uploads.

Project 2: Social writing. (25%)

We’ve done offline writing for a long time, but two trends—universal literacy and widespread access to digitally based information and communication technologies—have radically increased both the variety and the interactivity of writing. We can now keep in close, interactive contact with a variety of relationships via social networking (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus) and messaging (e.g., SMS/texting, instant messaging, GroupMe, Skype, Google Hangouts). And as the Haas et al. piece illustrated, this new (historically speaking) affordance has led to behavior that older people might find bizarre—such as texting someone who is in the same space.

How have information and communication technologies changed the nature of relationships, either close or distant? Write a paper that explores this question. For this paper:

  • Interview 2-3 people who has grown up with, and uses, social media or messaging. Specifically, find people who have used social media or messaging since high school (at the latest). Discuss the following:

○      What do they use social networking or messaging to do? Under what conditions? Ask for specific examples that you can capture, either via screen capture or by writing verbatim.

○      How do they use social networking or messaging to interact? For instance, do they comment on others’ status? Do they monitor how others feel or what others are doing?

  • Interview 1-2 people who did not grow up with social media or messaging. These could be relatives, employers, professors, etc. Discuss the following:

○      Do they use social media or messaging? If so, how do they use it? If not, why not?

○      What have they found most counterintuitive about social media?

Based on the research above, write a paper that compares and contrasts the expectations of the two groups. Compare both sets of expectations to your own.

Project 3: Collaborative writing. (30%)

 Collaborative writing has become increasingly important in endeavors from entertainment to business to education, helped along by new and powerful ways to collaborate. As Zachry et al. show, publicly available online services have created an additional collaborative layer over businesses; as Sherlock demonstrates, collaborative texts such as wikis are key to making certain activities in World of Warcraft happen. And of course Wikipedia is the poster child for massive collaboratively written endeavors.

This project involves examining such collaborative writing spaces, but it also involves using them.

In groups of 3-4 people, select a collaboratively written text to examine and evaluate. You might consider texts such as

  • a wiki for an online game or a Wikipedia page
  • a Google Doc for an open source software project
  • a piece of documentation in a content management system

As you examine the text, you’ll collaborate on an evaluation of the text. Specifically, you’ll look at features such as:

  • Identity. Are collaborators identified? How are they identified—with full names, pseudonyms, etc.?
  • History. Does the system show the history of changes? How do you get to it, and to what degree does it show the changes?
  • Controls. Who controls the text? What levels of control are embedded in the software? What roles are established? How do people move from one role to another?
  • Contributions. What features allow people to make contributions? Are these features easy or hard to use? Speculate on how the qualities of these features affect the quantity and quality of the contributions.

Collaboratively write a paper based on the evaluation.

  • Use collaborative writing software (such as Google Docs, a wiki, or a content management system) to write and submit the paper..
  • Use a project management tool (Basecamp, Asana, Wrike, Google Sheets, etc.) to plan, track, and adjust writing tasks.’

Project 4: Networked writing and alliances. (25%)

In their book The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Ronfeldt et al. describe how the Zapatistas took advantage of relatively new information and communication technologies (new in 1998, anyway) to network different actors with different agendas, resulting in alliances that quickly changed the dynamics of revolution. We see similar tactics being used with more recent actions leveraging more recent technologies: the Arab Spring used Facebook and Twitter; Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party use social media and discussion boards; the Syrian rebels use Skype; Anonymous uses a variety of channels.

Select one instance—possibly from these, possibly from other instances—and research it. Specifically, examine how entities with different agendas meet and network those agendas via information and communication technologies.

Required Texts and Course Readings

Baten, J., & Van Zanden, J. L. (2008). Book production and the onset of modern economic growth. Journal of Economic Growth, 13(3), 217–235.

Bender, E. M., Morgan, J. T., Oxley, M., Zachry, M., Hutchinson, B., Marin, A., Zhang, B., et al. (2011). Annotating Social Acts : Authority Claims and Alignment Moves in Wikipedia Talk Pages. LSM  ’11: Proceedings of the Workshop on Languages in Social Media (pp. 48–57). Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computational Linguistics.

Ferro, T., Divine, D., & Zachry, M. (2012). Knowledge Workers and Their Use of Publicly Available Online Services for Day-to-day Work. SIGDOC  ’12:Proceedings of the 30th ACM international conference on Design of communication (pp. 47–53). New York: ACM.

Hutchins, E. (1995). How a cockpit remembers its speeds. Cognitive Science, 19(3), 265–288.

Karlsson, A.-M. (2009). Positioned by Reading and Writing: Literacy Practices, Roles, and Genres in Common Occupations. Written Communication, 26(1), 53–76. doi:10.1177/0741088308327445

Law, J. (1986). On the methods of long distance control: Vessels, navigation and the Portuguese route to India. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 234–263). Boston: Routledge.

Morgan, J. T., & Zachry, M. (2010). Negotiating with angry mastodons. In Wayne Lutters & Diane H. Sonnenwald (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th ACM international conference on Supporting group work - GROUP  ’10 (pp. 165–168). New York: ACM.

O’Leary, M., Orlikowski, W., & Yates, J. (2002). Distributed work over the centuries: Trust and control in the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670-1826. In P. J. Hinds & S. Kiesler (Eds.), Distributed Work (pp. 27–54). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Oxley, M., Morgan, J. T., Zachry, M., & Hutchinson, B. (2010). “What I Know Is …”: Establishing Credibility on Wikipedia Talk Pages. WikiSym  ’10: Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (pp. 2–3). New York: ACM.

Ronfeldt, D., Arquilla, J., Fuller, G. E., & Fuller, M. (1999). The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

Sherlock, L. (2009). Genre, Activity, and Collaborative Work and Play in World of Warcraft: Places and Problems of Open Systems in Online Gaming. Journal Of Business And Technical Communication, 23(3), 263–293.

Schmandt-Besserat, D., & Erard, M. (2008). Origins and Forms of Writing. In C. Bazerman (Ed.), Handbook of research on writing: History, society, school, individual, text (pp. 7–22). New York: Erlbaum.

Smart, G. (2008). Writing and the social formation of economy. In C. Bazerman (Ed.), Handbook of research on writing: History, society, school, individual, text (pp. 123–135). New York: Erlbaum.

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies

44400 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

How do people use texts to communicate and solve problems in organizations - and how can we help them improve? In this class, you'll learn how to answer that question. You'll design and conduct a field study of an organization, watching actual people communicate and solve actual problems. You'll analyze the results, generating a model of how they communicate and where their solutions do and don't work. Finally, you'll design a text that will help them fix their problems.

RHE 330C involves four major projects:

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (20%). In Project 1, you will identify a research site, gain permission to do research there, and design a research study. You'll follow this design as you conduct the study in Project 2 and analyze the results in Project 3. At the end of Project 12, you’ll turn in a research proposal, consent form, and interview script.

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (30%). In Project 2, you’ll put your research design into action, observing people, interviewing them, and looking at their texts. At the end of Project 2, you’ll turn in your data and an interim report of your findings.

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (35%). In Project 3, you’ll carefully analyze your data by using several models, which will help you see patterns in how people work and in the problems they encounter and will help you recommend changes. At the end of Project 3, you’ll turn in a recommendation report and the models.

Project 4: Testing a solution (15%). Now that you have diagnosed issues at the research site and generated recommendations for addressing them, it's time to turn those abstract recommendations into concrete solutions. Your group will use one or more participatory design techniques to develop and test an early-stage solution implementing one of your recommendations. At the end of Project 4, you’ll turn in the solution along with a report describing how well the solution worked.

Course Requirements

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (6pp. proposal, consent form, interview questions).

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (6pp interim report plus collateral materials). 

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (6pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Project 4: Testing a solution (4pp recommendation report plus collateral materials). 

Grading

Project 1: 20%

Project 2: 30%

Project 3: 35%

Project 4: 15%

Texts

Spinuzzi, Tracing Genres Through Organizations

Online readings at the course site

RHE 309S • Crit Read/Persuasive Writ-Nsds

44165 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 900am-1000am PAR 6
show description

THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO NATURAL SCIENCE DEAN SCHOLARS

In this course, you’ll develop a better understanding and mastery of rhetoric - the art of persuasion. Rhetoric is essential for your college work and for your broader participation as a citizen - but it’s also essential for your work in natural science. Scientists are rhetors, working to persuade each other and the general public; in this course, you’ll learn some of the ways that rhetoric is used in the natural sciences, and you’ll practice effective and ethical persuasion techniques yourself.

To accomplish this goal, we'll use a number of approaches. We'll analyze science writing from your particular field (popular science writing, peer-reviewed scientific articles, conference papers); we’ll look at grant proposals that brought research about; and we’ll try to get our hands on the data, protocols, and other texts that those in natural science use.  Throughout, we'll involve ourselves in discussions about what we read, focusing on common rhetorical moves and assumptions.

The course - and its assignments - will challenge you to understand how rhetoric functions in the natural sciences (and, more broadly, in general discourse): not to deceive people but to understand which arguments work and which ones don’t.

Projects:

●    Project 1: Analyzing a scientific argument.

●    Project 2: Visiting a lab.

●    Project 3: Comparing assumptions.

●    Project 4: Analyzing how scientists process data into facts.

RHE 328 • Principles Of Tech Writing

44195 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Technical writing is nonfiction writing meant to make the complex simple. It informs, instructs, and persuades. And it can take many forms -- manuals, references, instructions, correspondence, reports, and proposals, among others. Whatever form is used, technical writing's focus is to ensure that readers can make informed choices, understand complex information, and follow complex procedures.

In this class, technical writing is treated rhetorically: We will build on lessons of rhetorical analysis, organization, and style learned in previous classes, but we will apply those lessons to concrete real-world problems. By the end of the class, students should be able to:

- Understand the relationship between technical writing and rhetoric,

- Identify and fulfill the purposes of technical writing: informing, instructing, persuading
,

- Identify and produce several genres of technical writing, including manuals, instructions, correspondence, and reports,

- Use a clear, parsimonious writing style,

- Use visual cues such as headings and lists to signal text hierarchy and help readers find content
,

- Select and use appropriate visual aids
,

- Identify and plan information spaces for eliciting user content.

This class is particularly suited for liberal arts majors who want to gain a basic understanding of technical writing or who want to improve their writing clarity.

Course Requirements

Students will complete four major projects as well as daily minor assignments.

Grade Breakdown

Project 1: Instructions (includes technical definition) (20%)

Project 2: Report (20%)

Project 3: Proposal (20%)

Project 4: Manual and user feedback forum (includes correspondence) (40%)

Daily minor assignments will be folded into the major assignment grades.

Required Texts

The Handbook of Technical Writing Ninth Edition by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu

Team Writing by Joanna Wolfe (Bundled with Alred et al.)

Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by Anne Gentle

RHE 328 • Principles Of Tech Writing

44040 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

Technical writing is nonfiction writing meant to make the complex simple. It informs, instructs, and persuades. And it can take many forms -- manuals, references, instructions, correspondence, reports, and proposals, among others. Whatever form is used, technical writing's focus is to ensure that readers can make informed choices, understand complex information, and follow complex procedures.

In this class, technical writing is treated rhetorically: We will build on lessons of rhetorical analysis, organization, and style learned in previous classes, but we will apply those lessons to concrete real-world problems. By the end of the class, students should be able to:

- Understand the relationship between technical writing and rhetoric,

- Identify and fulfill the purposes of technical writing: informing, instructing, persuading
,

- Identify and produce several genres of technical writing, including manuals, instructions, correspondence, and reports,

- Use a clear, parsimonious writing style,

- Use visual cues such as headings and lists to signal text hierarchy and help readers find content
,

- Select and use appropriate visual aids
,

- Identify and plan information spaces for eliciting user content.

This class is particularly suited for liberal arts majors who want to gain a basic understanding of technical writing or who want to improve their writing clarity.

Course Requirements

Students will complete four major projects as well as daily minor assignments.

Grade Breakdown

Project 1: Instructions (includes technical definition) (20%)

Project 2: Report (20%)

Project 3: Proposal (20%)

Project 4: Manual and user feedback forum (includes correspondence) (40%)

Daily minor assignments will be folded into the major assignment grades.Required Texts

The Handbook of Technical Writing Ninth Edition by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu

Team Writing by Joanna Wolfe (Bundled with Alred et al.)

Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by Anne Gentle

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies

44055 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

How do people use texts to communicate and solve problems in organizations - and how can we help them improve? In this class, you'll learn how to answer that question. You'll design and conduct a field study of an organization, watching actual people communicate and solve actual problems. You'll analyze the results, generating a model of how they communicate and where their solutions do and don't work. Finally, you'll design a text that will help them fix their problems.

RHE 330C involves four major projects:

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (20%). In Project 1, you will identify a research site, gain permission to do research there, and design a research study. You'll follow this design as you conduct the study in Project 2 and analyze the results in Project 3. At the end of Project 12, you’ll turn in a research proposal, consent form, and interview script.

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (30%). In Project 2, you’ll put your research design into action, observing people, interviewing them, and looking at their texts. At the end of Project 2, you’ll turn in your data and an interim report of your findings.

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (35%). In Project 3, you’ll carefully analyze your data by using several models, which will help you see patterns in how people work and in the problems they encounter and will help you recommend changes. At the end of Project 3, you’ll turn in a recommendation report and the models.

Project 4: Testing a solution (15%). Now that you have diagnosed issues at the research site and generated recommendations for addressing them, it's time to turn those abstract recommendations into concrete solutions. Your group will use one or more participatory design techniques to develop and test an early-stage solution implementing one of your recommendations. At the end of Project 4, you’ll turn in the solution along with a report describing how well the solution worked.

Course Requirements

Project 1: Designing a study of an organization (6pp. proposal, consent form, interview questions).

Project 2: Conducting the study of the organization (6pp interim report plus collateral materials).

Project 3: Analyzing the study results (6pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Project 4: Testing a solution (4pp recommendation report plus collateral materials).

Grading

Project 1: 20%

Project 2: 30%

Project 3: 35%

Project 4: 15%Texts

Spinuzzi, Tracing Genres Through Organizations

Online readings at the course site

RHE 309S • Crit Read/Persuasive Writ-Nsds

44740 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm FAC 9
show description

THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO NATURAL SCIENCE DEAN SCHOLARS

In this course, you’ll develop a better understanding and mastery of rhetoric - the art of persuasion. Rhetoric is essential for your college work and for your broader participation as a citizen - but it’s also essential for your work in natural science. Scientists are rhetors, working to persuade each other and the general public; in this course, you’ll learn some of the ways that rhetoric is used in the natural sciences, and you’ll practice effective and ethical persuasion techniques yourself.

To accomplish this goal, we'll use a number of approaches. We'll analyze science writing from your particular field (popular science writing, peer-reviewed scientific articles, conference papers); we’ll look at grant proposals that brought research about; and we’ll try to get our hands on the data, protocols, and other texts that those in natural science use.  Throughout, we'll involve ourselves in discussions about what we read, focusing on common rhetorical moves and assumptions.

The course - and its assignments - will challenge you to understand how rhetoric functions in the natural sciences (and, more broadly, in general discourse): not to deceive people but to understand which arguments work and which ones don’t.

Projects:

- Project 1: Analyzing a scientific argument.

- Project 2: Visiting a lab.

- Project 3: Comparing assumptions.

- Project 4: Analyzing how scientists process data into facts.

RHE 328 • Principles Of Tech Writing

44765 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am FAC 9
show description

Technical writing is nonfiction writing meant to make the complex simple. It informs, instructs, and persuades. And it can take many forms -- manuals, references, instructions, correspondence, reports, and proposals, among others. Whatever form is used, technical writing's focus is to ensure that readers can make informed choices, understand complex information, and follow complex procedures.

In this class, technical writing is treated rhetorically: We will build on lessons of rhetorical analysis, organization, and style learned in previous classes, but we will apply those lessons to concrete real-world problems. By the end of the class, students should be able to:

- Understand the relationship between technical writing and rhetoric,
- Identify and fulfill the purposes of technical writing: informing, instructing, persuading
,
- Identify and produce several genres of technical writing, including manuals, instructions, correspondence, and reports,
- Use a clear, parsimonious writing style,
- Use visual cues such as headings and lists to signal text hierarchy and help readers find content
,
- Select and use appropriate visual aids
,
- Identify and plan information spaces for eliciting user content.

This class is particularly suited for liberal arts majors who want to gain a basic understanding of technical writing or who want to improve their writing clarity.

Course Requirements
Students will complete four major projects as well as daily minor assignments.

Grade Breakdown
Project 1: Instructions (includes technical definition) (20%)
Project 2: Report (20%)
Project 3: Proposal (20%)

Project 4: Manual and user feedback forum (includes correspondence) (40%)

Daily minor assignments will be folded into the major assignment grades.

Required Texts
The Handbook of Technical Writing Ninth Edition by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu
Team Writing by Joanna Wolfe (Bundled with Alred et al.)
Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by Anne Gentle

RHE 328 • Principles Of Tech Writing

44085 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

Technical writing is nonfiction writing meant to make the complex simple. It informs, instructs, and persuades. And it can take many forms -- manuals, references, instructions, correspondence, reports, and proposals, among others. Whatever form is used, technical writing's focus is to ensure that readers can make informed choices, understand complex information, and follow complex procedures.

In this class, technical writing is treated rhetorically: We will build on lessons of rhetorical analysis, organization, and style learned in previous classes, but we will apply those lessons to concrete real-world problems. By the end of the class, students should be able to

Understand the relationship between technical writing and rhetoric
Identify and fulfill the purposes of technical writing: informing, instructing, persuading
Identify and produce several genres of technical writing, including manuals, instructions, correspondence, and reports
Use a clear, parsimonious writing style
Use visual cues such as headings and lists to signal text hierarchy and help readers find content
Select and use appropriate visual aids
Identify and plan information spaces for eliciting user content

This class is particularly suited for liberal arts majors who want to gain a basic understanding of technical writing or who want to improve their writing clarity.

Course Requirements

Students will complete four major projects as well as daily minor assignments.

Grading Policy

Project 1: Instructions (includes technical definition) (20%)
Project 2: Report (20%)
Project 3: Proposal (20%)
Project 4: Manual and user feedback forum (includes correspondence) (40%)
Daily minor assignments will be folded into the major assignment grades.

Texts

"The Handbook of Technical Writing" Eighth Edition (Hardcover) by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies

44105 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 6
show description

Look around almost any workplace and you'll see texts everywhere: printouts, forms, sticky notes, receipts, and dozens of others. And as more of our time is devoted to manipulating symbols and information, and as digital technologies allow us to connect more easily and broadly across time, space, organizations, and disciplines, we do more and more of our work through texts. These texts form complex ecologies - they are more than the sum of their parts. Such text ecologies tend to grow organically, through the layering of individual workers' innovations and more formal interventions. And they're a big part of what gives knowledge work its flexibility.

But text ecologies tend not to be designed. They accrete through tactical reactions, but rarely do they represent a coherent strategic stance. That is, they're not planned, and thus they often don't scale well; transfer well; lend themselves to being taught; or lend themselves to directed change. So how do we solve this problem? How do we design text ecologies that are strategically, tactically, and operationally coherent? stable enough to be shared, but flexible enough to be adaptable? oriented toward internal work activities, but well connected with external work?

That's what this class is about. We'll learn the following:
- The nature of knowledge work, work organization, and the roles of texts in supporting it.
- The three levels of work: strategic, tactical, and operational.
- The basics of open systems.
- The basics of project and time management.
- Methods for researching and analyzing text ecologies in their strategic, tactical, and operational aspects.
- Methods for designing text ecologies in their strategic, tactical, and operational aspects.

Course Requirements
Project 1: Designing a study of a text ecology at a worksite (6pp proposal)
Project 2: Conducting the study at the worksite (6pp interim report plus collateral materials)
Project 3: Analyzing the study results through models and representations (6pp recommendation report plus collateral materials)
Project 4: Redesigning the text ecology (10pp recommendation report plus collateral materials)

Grading

Project 1: 20%
Project 2: 20%
Project 3: 30%
Project 4: 30%

Texts
Beyer & Holtzblatt, _Contextual Design_
Online readings at the course site
Possible: Spinuzzi, _Tracing Genres Through Organizations_

RHE 330C • Designing Text Ecologies-W

87500 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTHF 1000am-1130am PAR 308
show description

Look around almost any workplace and you'll see texts everywhere: printouts, forms, sticky notes, receipts, and dozens of others. And as more of our time is devoted to manipulating symbols and information, and as digital technologies allow us to connect more easily and broadly across time, space, organizations, and disciplines, we do more and more of our work through texts. These texts form complex ecologies - they are more than the sum of their parts. Such text ecologies tend to grow organically, through the layering of individual workers' innovations and more formal interventions. And they're a big part of what gives knowledge work its flexibility.

But text ecologies tend not to be designed. They accrete through tactical reactions, but rarely do they represent a coherent strategic stance. That is, they're not planned, and thus they often don't scale well; transfer well; lend themselves to being taught; or lend themselves to directed change. So how do we solve this problem? How do we design text ecologies that are strategically, tactically, and operationally coherent? stable enough to be shared, but flexible enough to be adaptable? oriented toward internal work activities, but well connected with external work?

That's what this class is about. We'll learn the following:
- The nature of knowledge work, work organization, and the roles of texts in supporting it.
- The three levels of work: strategic, tactical, and operational.
- The basics of open systems.
- The basics of project and time management.
- Methods for researching and analyzing text ecologies in their strategic, tactical, and operational aspects.
- Methods for designing text ecologies in their strategic, tactical, and operational aspects.

Grading Policy

Six short papers (& revisions to each): 60%

Collaborative project 20%
Midterm exam 10%
Final exam 10%
Exercises, peer reviews & class participation: mandatory

Texts

Crowley & Hawhee, Classical Rhetoric for Contemporary Students

Bizzell & Herzberg, The Rhetorical Tradition
Course packet of readings

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