Technical communication has interested me for several years; mainly due to the fact that my father has been writing technical documents for a living and it seems very interesting. With my college graduation looming, enrolling in this class has further increased my level of interest. During this semester, I would not say that my preconceived idea of “technical communication” has changed; more so, I would say that my knowledge on the subject has expanded to a whole new level that certainly makes me appreciate its existence and those who shape it. Originally, I held a very simple understanding of technical communication; that it basically dealt with instruction manuals and scientific discourse. Although still true, that is only a minor aspect in the intricate understanding of technical communication that I have amassed.
Technical communication is ever present in our society today: from instruction manuals to road signs to government contracts. The absolute main goal of technical communication is to be explicit, efficient, user-accessible, and free of loose interpretations or connotations. However, for this to occur, an incessant connection to the audience is necessary. The extent to which an audience influences the course of technical communication is vast and complex. The techniques, language, and design choices used in technical communication should benefit the audience, appeal to them in a way that keeps them interested yet properly informed. This class has taught me many different examples of effective technical communication based on audience. It has also introduced me to significant figures in determining the definition and purpose of technical communication.
Katherine T. Durack is a prominent figure in the technical communication field that has greatly influenced my understanding on the subject. She highlights three principals of technical communication that coincide with the aspects I discussed above; which have expanded my knowledge in her journal article, “Gender, Technology, and the History of Technical Communication.”
- Her first point states, “Technical writing exists within government and industry, as well as in the intersection between private and public spheres.” This statement coincides with my point about technical writing being ever present in our society.
- Her second point states, “Technical writing has a close relationship to technology.” This statement coincides with my point that technical communication needs to be direct and user-accessible. One of the main ways an audience receives information is through quick technology that is readily available for a majority of the population. Technical communicators need to be aware of the most current technologies to make sure their audience receives their info in the most user friendly way. Also, there are so many new programs for designing the most efficient technical communication and the most successful communicator will be up-to-date with these programs.
- Her final point states, “Technical writing often seeks to make tacit knowledge explicit.” Simple enough, this point coincides with my point that the communication needs to be simple yet accurate, easily understandable, and free of loose interpretations.
Durack, Katherine T. (1997). Gender, Technology, and the History of Technical Communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 6(3): 249-60.
3 thoughts on “Technical Communication: A Definitive Meaning”
I think Ms. Durack’s final point of making the tacit, explicit is the learning point that stood out for me the most. I think the biggest concept I had to adjust to was the fact that what seems uniform as a final product is often cobbled together from lots of other sources.You have to change your research style to compensate for it and to some extent how you write. It really is like going back to 3rd or 4th grade papers with a fine tooth comb, paragraph by paragraph and seeing if everything in it is clear and follows everything else; there can be no assumed knowledge in technical communication when it comes to your readers. I agree with this post as well with having to broaden one’ s original definition upon learning technical communication, which was the second biggest learning curb for me. I don’t think there is a single person unaware of it, it is just that the things we normally associate with it, user manuals, medicinal instructions etc. are actually a small part and really only the tip of a very large iceberg.
““Technical writing exists within government and industry, as well as in the intersection between private and public spheres.” This statement coincides with my point about technical writing being ever present in our society.”
Good, but I don’t see why your putting this at the end in bullet points instead of working it into the body of your argument.
““Technical writing has a close relationship to technology.” This statement coincides with my point that technical communication needs to be direct and user-accessible.”
I don’t really understand what you mean by coincide. Yeah, both of these points are referring to technical writing, but Durack’s point does not support yours. She is saying that technology and technical writing have a close relationship and not saying anything about the way an individual should approach technical writing, which is what you are saying.
““Technical writing often seeks to make tacit knowledge explicit.” Simple enough, this point coincides with my point that the communication needs to be simple yet accurate, easily understandable, and free of loose interpretations.”
Re-read the statements that Durack is making. Durack is saying that technical writing makes normally unsaid information into said information. Once again not saying anything about the way in which you should approach technical writing. I mean I see where your coming from, but you should have approached this differently.
I have had a similar experience with my eyes being opened to the different uses of technical communication. When I signed up for this class, as well as Document Design with Dr Mary Hocks, I was under the impression that this semester would consist of learning the format of a technical manual, memo sheet, basic office documents, and to become an expert in Word. (AKA a deathly boring semester.) In actuality, the experience of this class and Dr. Hocks’s class has opened my eyes to not only the application of technical communication and composition, but the seemingly endless realm of the art. This class focuses on the application and theory in business, while Dr. Hocks’s class focuses on the composition outside of business. Both have truly educated me!