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Subject:Re: **Defining Tech Comm** From:David Farkas <farkas -at- U -dot- WASHINGTON -dot- EDU> Date:Tue, 15 Nov 1994 11:45:27 -0800
Cynthia, the transactional (or "constructionist") idea I described is
just a way of looking at technical communication. I can't think of any
kind of example in the sense of two paragraphs one written according to
one theory and the other written according to the other.
But this perspective does remind us that readers bring their own
individual backgrounds and idiosyncracies to any text they look at. We
may say to ourselves that what we've written down is "clear" and "makes
good sense." But meaning ultimately resides as much in our readers as in
the texts we create. Probably, the most direct practical implication of
this perspective is that it makes a strong case for usability
testing--and it may prevent us from assuming that what we write is being
understood the way we think it is.
If you are in the mood to do some serious reading about this stuff, try
Carolyn Miller, "A Humanistic Rationale for Technical Writing," College
English 40 (1979), pp. 610-17. This is the "classic" statement of
constructionist theory as it pertains to technical communication. Also
good is Marilyn Cooper and Michael Holzman, "Introduction" and "The
Ecology of Writing" in Writing as Social Action, Boynton/Cook Publishers,
1989 (ISBN 0-867-244-0.
Dept. of Technical Communication
University of Washington