All posts by mennis4

Blog Post #7: Resistance is Futile

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The difference between good instructions and bad (see the above photo) often boils down to whether or not the author has taken the time to really consider the audience. In the picture above, the instructions have clearly been translated, but poorly. The author clearly did not consider an English speaking audience while translating and editing those instructions. On the flip side, here is a set of easy to follow instructions from on how to dance. The author of this wiki clearly has a good grasp on the audience. All of the pictures are easy to understand, and the instructions themselves are easy to follow and understand. Creating documents and instructions which are easily accessible to a broad range of people is very important for technical communication. A lot of times in instruction manuals, you have to flip through several pages of information that would be better suited at the end of the manual. “Early communication reduces later resistance,” says Hibbard in her article about change and resistance to policy/procedure writing.

One way to ensure the success and effectiveness of a manual or how to guide is to test it on people beforehand. This is known as the “feedback-driven model”(Ceraso 240). This will most likely require a lot of extra work and time depending on the complexity of the process you are trying to break down. For instance, “a manual for a complex product might require extensive usability testing”(Ceraso 240). Yet even testing to this degree will not solve all of your problems since d”developers cannot possibly anticipate all the needs, practices, and activities that users will find for technologies”(Ceraso 245). Yet this should not be something to fear. Technical writing will always have some way in which it can be improved upon. This should be looked at as a challenge: to try and create the most functional document for the correct audience.

Sources used:

Chapter 10 in “Solving Problems in Technical Communication.” How Can Technical Communicators Plan for Users by Antonio Ceraso


Blog Post #11: Suit or Sandals?

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Having a rigid, formal context in regards to dress-code and behavior in the workplace has both benefits and drawbacks. A formal approach to dress can create an environment of implied professionalism that encourages workers to stay on task. It also gives the impression that employees take their work seriously. A formal attire, it can be argued, is better than casual clothing in that it offers little to no distraction. A casual attire, on the other hand, can provide a relaxed and comfortable work situation where creativity is more likely to occur. Yet, this relaxed dress-code can also lend itself to relaxed attitudes towards the work itself, which could result in poor performance, tardiness, etc.


I do not think there is a “one size fits all” answer to this problem. In certain job situations, a formal attire is obviously the better choice. You would not want a Doctor, for example, to perform surgery in a Hawaiian t-shirt and sandals. The dress code should reflect the seriousness of the job being performed. Dressing in a suit implies a level of seriousness towards the work being done. It also presents an image of professionalism to the public. Therefore, in certain jobs like programming or software design, it makes little sense to have to wear a suit and tie to work, especially if these employees have no physical contact with clients. Employees in fields such as this would most likely benefit from a more relaxed dress code as it would be conducive to creative work output.


Much like everything else we have discussed throughout this course, the decision should be heavily informed by the audience in their work situation. Will the employee be in view of customers or clients? If so, it would probably be better to have some sort of standardized dress-code. If the job being performed mainly creative in nature? If so, it would most likely be beneficial to allow a relaxed and informal dress-code.

10 reasons why we should all be reading more (you won’t believe what they are!)

The problem with the sudden influx of easily digestible information and the rise of the phrase TL;DR is a multi-faceted problem that cannot be easily solved. In my opinion, many authors on the internet tend to use a whole bunch of completely and totally unnecessary words in their posts in order to sound like they are actually really very smart. Or perhaps they are trying to fulfill a secret word-count quota that only they know about. In fact, this very paragraph could be edited to somewhere between a third or a half of its current length. With technical communication, wordy documents are especially grating since the real object of technical writing is to convey meaning in the most direct way possible. Many poorly written articles on the web are simply too long and deserve the retort TL;DR.

The flip side to this, however, is the unholy plague of listicles (an “article” in the form of a list) posing as real journalism. Seriously,stuff like this  is quickly filling the internet, making it harder and harder to find anything of actual value to read. Now, I know what you all are thinking..”this old codger needs to get hip to the new and the now, we are young and we are leaving dusty old print media and anything over 140 characters in the dust.”  I would caution against such a brash philosophy. Are there any scientific studies that show people who read entire books regularly are way smarter than people who read tweets and status updates all day? Probably, but I don’t need to reference any of them to tell you that that statement is 100% correct. (please note that the internet is awful and I hate everything. After a quick google search of “Do smarter people read more?,” the first twenty results were listicles. If you need information to be crunched into a list so that you can digest it, you should go back to preschool where your mommy and daddy will also cut your pb&j into triangles and remove the crust for you as well.

I can provide real data too, not just snarky conjecture. Apparently, all this googling and wikisurfing is changing how our brains process and store information. Instead of keeping all those interesting tidbits of “knowledge” in your memory, your brain creates a database entry point instead. What this means is that your brain does not remember the information that you went to look for. Instead, it remembers where you went to look for it.

The solution is simple yet also probably impossible. Everyone needs to set a higher standard for what they are willing to read. Buzzfeed isn’t rotting your mind, but it is wasting your time on, at best sub-par entertainment, when you could be doing literally anything else. As the famous philosopher, Drake said, “You only live once.” So why not make the best of our lives and strive to challenge ourselves intellectually and creatively every single day?


Sources used;_didn%27t_read#GFDL.3F.3F.3F


Blog Post #5: Statement of Interest

A recent photo of me working hard to finish some copy for a client.


My name is Joe Ennis and I believe that I would be best suited for the role of copywriter. I am just a few months away from gaining my bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing: fiction. While this project will certainly utilize a technical writing style, I believe that all writing is essentially a creative enterprise. Most of my writing in the past has been a mix of fictional prose, satirical concert reviews, 3-5 page five paragraph essays, and well-written complaints to various customer service departments. I do not see my lack of experience in technical writing as a setback; I see it as an exciting challenge to acquire a brand new skill. While some of my blog posts seem quirky and strange, I am no stranger to professional writing. 


Another photograph of me working diligently.
Another photograph of me working diligently.


I do work almost every day that I am not in class, but my job is such that I am completely available to reach via email or text. I can also take breaks as needed to work with either fellow project members or clients. I live in Atlanta approximately ten minutes from campus, and I am available most nights to meet in person. I am also available to meet Mondays and Wednesdays on campus before noon.


BLOG POST #4: The importance of being literate

In recent years The United States has witnessed a steady decline in a variety of areas, calling into question our status as the greatest nation on Earth. Indeed, if one looks at any statistics at all, it becomes pretty clear that we rank #1 in almost nothing of importance. According to people who collect reliable data, we come in a paltry 7th place in literacy rates among adults. The United States’ dismal performance in regards to literacy is one of the biggest reasons for our  “declining standing in the world”(Rogers). It is well known that “completing higher levels of education also often provides access to jobs that involve further learning and more information-processing tasks”(OEDC 34). Yet how can people seek ‘higher’ education if they can’t even read?

I work in a sewing shop, which was started by my father, and to be completely honest, I have serious doubts if everyone I work with could be considered traditionally literate. Yet they can sew things for forty hours a week with zero problems. They have what I have decided to term ‘machine literacy.’ In ‘machine literacy,’ my coworkers all score very high marks indeed.

The problem with this, however, is that we cannot hope for our nation to be great if its people all excel at jobs that don’t even require the basic ability to read and write well. Plus, it won’t be long before my father’s shop gets put out of business due to the systematic disregard for humanity in overseas factories. The types of jobs that we need as a nation are those which incorporate a multitude of literacy types, with a heavy emphasis on traditional literacy. By traditional literacy, I simply mean the ability to read and write well. Even in jobs which emphasize non traditional types of literacy such as designing video games or making movies etc, the ability to understand others and to be understood by others is a crucial factor. Yet how do we go about achieving this?

“Beyond formal education, learning occurs in a range of other settings, including within the family, at the workplace and through self-directed individual activity. For skills to retain their value, they must be continuously developed throughout life”(OECD 36). Ultimately, the responsibility lies on individual parents, not the nation as a whole, even though we are all affected negatively by high rates of illiteracy. We should offer free literacy education throughout the country for all age ranges with the caveat that basic privileges such as voting, getting a driver’s license, and procreating should be suspended until one can pass a basic literacy test.

Rogers, Megan. (2013). Troubling stats on adult literacy. Inside Higher Ed.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2013). OECD Skills Outlook for 2013. First results from the survey of adult skills. OECD Publishing.

Blog Post #3: Standing out just like everyone else

Since the internet took over in the early 90’s, the world has become more connected than ever. This has had both positive and negative effects on the job market, and on the process one must go through in order to find employment. It should come as no surprise, then, that the massive influx in competition for similar job types would result in the creation of the “need” for alternative resumes.

How can one stand out if all they have to show their employer is a record of all the things they have done and their specific qualification for the job they are applying for? No. In today’s ever evolving society one must continuously adapt and change and STAND OUT if they want to be hired by corporations. How should one go about making their resume, (a thing that is in no way ever actually unique or special by its very nature,) seem super duper totally special and unique?

One tip, which has already been brought up, but seems to be OVERWHELMINGLY USEFUL, is to lie, make stuff up, and then lie some more. Looking like the most qualified candidate is really hard in today’s job market because most of us are all very similar and the jobs we want are very similar as well. Lying allows you to edge out all those suckers trying to get by on their own merit.

My chosen career path (creative writing and stand-up comedy) will require a slightly different type of resume since I would rather burn to death in a house full of angry kittens than go to work for a company who wants a serious resume. Yet I still need to be able to show my skills and I must stand out if I really want people to notice me. This link  shows one specific alternative resume type that I would use; a creative Facebook page! The second creative resume I would potentially use is a presi that shows examples of my brilliant prose. This will get me the job for sure!


Sources used:




Blog Post #1: What We Lose When Corporations Control Social Media

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One thing that many people often overlook when encountering a corporation on social media is that there is a single human being attached to the tweet, update, or blog that they are reading. This link shows what can happen when someone in charge of a corporate social media outlet goes too far, or posts content that is too personal. The problem, from a corporate standpoint, is how to generate content on social media that manages to attract new customers without offending their existing customer base. In other words, what corporations seek to achieve is a social media presence that almost perfectly mimics the social media presence of an individual yet inherently lacks the actual freedom of speech held by individuals.

The responsibility, of course, lies with the content creators.  A single lapse of judgement can easily lead to being fired if one is in charge of a corporate social media outlet today. One must never forget who they are representing when posting online.

Below is a tweet earlier this week in reference to a popular true crime podcast called Serial.

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Within minutes of this tweet, many thousands of users on twitter attacked Best Buy for what many considered to be a crass exploitation of a tragic situation (the murder of a young woman in Baltimore in 1999). They then deleted the tweet and offered the below pictured apology.

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Did Best Buy go too far? On one hand, they did indeed make a joke about a tragic situation, but what many people failed to take into account is the fact that the Serial podcast, which has been downloaded by over 5 million people, is in and of itself, a form of entertainment. Furthermore, the huge amount of attention the podcast has received has pushed the entire case into the realm of popular culture. This is an important distinction to make because the question now becomes, did Best Buy make a joke about a tragedy in order to sell products, or did they make a joke about a pop culture phenomenon?  I think the person behind the Best Buy social media ultimately helped Best Buy’s reputation. The apology leaves Best Buy in a position they can defend, yet the controversy created only enhanced their brand presence overall.

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The benefits of corporate blogging definitely outweigh the risks, but only for the corporation. For the individual employee, the opposite is true. While they may be fairly financially compensated for their work, there is always the risk that something they post will either offend the company’s customer base, or the company itself. While it is unclear from the Best Buy example above, it is almost certain that the employee who wrote the offending tweet will be punished while the company is almost certain to prosper.

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Another important issue is whether or not employers should be able to access and make decisions based upon an employees social media presence.  The answer really depends upon the individual. The web offers plenty of advice on how to navigate this terrain, yet the answers seem unsettling. Advice such as “remove every potentially-inappropriate post/picture” and to “keep language and grammar in mind,”(Driscoll) seems to be at odds with an individual’s right to freely and openly communicate.  While self-censorship is an important and integral part of interacting with society, it can be taken too far.  At a certain point, an individual loses their individuality if they are more concerned with continued employment than speaking their mind.  “A public profile is a vehicle for casually interacting with others in an informal setting, on personal free time. When companies use these profiles to find not only a professional but also an ideological match for a job, they’re misleading themselves and building ill will with talented prospective employees, who might decline to apply for a job for fear a comment about China on their blogs makes them persona non grata”(Fish).  While keeping individual social media outlets private seems like good, practical advice, it kind of defeats the purpose of “social” media. Allowing employers to dictate what you do and don’t post online allows them to, in effect, shape the internet itself. Is this something that we want to happen?

Sources Cited:

Driscoll, Emily. “What Your Social Media Reputation Says to Employers.” Fox Business. 3 June 2013. Web. 29 Aug. 2014. <>.

Fish, Greg. “Employers, Get Outta My Facebook.” Business Week. Bloomsburg, 20 Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Aug. 2014. <>.

Warren, Christina. “10 People Who Lost Jobs Over Social Media Mistakes.” Mashable. 16 June 2011. Web. 29 Aug. 2014. <>.