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Power and Legitimacy in Technical Communication: Historical and Contemporary Struggle for Professional Status v. 1 (Baywood's Technical Communications Series)
Power and Legitimacy in Technical Communication: Historical and Contemporary Struggle for Professional Status v. 1 (Baywood's Technical Communications Series)
by Gerald J. Savage
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 51.63

3.0 out of 5 stars Some great information, but not a casual read, 23 Feb 2004
As far as I am aware, the ISTC, amongst others, has been struggling to obtain industry wide recognition for Technical Communicators since long before I entered the field. In fact since Professor Kapp formed the Presentation of Technical Information Group (predecessor to the ISTC) in 1948. Now I find in the next millennium, it has become my responsibility, but where to start?
That is the question that this book also asks and suggests that we begin with our history and the history of professions that have already achieved professional status.
Part 1 of the book (Historical Roots of the Struggle for Status) goes back to the very early days of Technical Communications in America when the first attempts were made patent and copyright instructions and designs and the difficulties that they faced. This part of the book goes on to discuss Dr. Rudolph Flesch and his principles of scientific rhetoric, which took ancient Greek principles of rhetoric and updated them with modern and scientific methods. Of course, it would be difficult to mention Dr. Flesch without mentioning his readability formula, this section describes how it came into being, and the research used to develop it. This part of the book finishes with a discussion of how Engineers achieved professional status and how Technical Communicators can learn from it.
Part 2 of the book (The Contemporary Struggle for Status) includes a look at what Technical Communications societies (primarily STC, but we get the occasional mention too) have tried and are currently trying to achieve in the struggle for status. In ‘Inside Out/Outside In’, George Hayhoe discusses the differences between Technical Communicators and Teachers of Technical Communication and how those differences must be overcome if we are ever to achieve professional status. He gives a list of ten steps for Technical Communicators and Teachers to use to build the respect and cooperation, which we need. I found this list very practical and insightful and I intend to use some of it myself.
Gerald Savage concludes this part of the book with a long and practical discussion of the issues raised when trying to professionalize Technical Communication. I found his observation that for emerging professions, success in the market place “involves more than simply offering a service that customers are willing to buy … control the marketplace by establishing certification or licensing standards …” particularly interesting as, not only are all established professions in the UK already doing this, but Tekom have also just begun to do this in Germany. In fact, the ISTC spent a lot of time developing vocational standards, which unfortunately, have yet to be accepted.
Part 3 (Envisioning Empowered Practice for Technical Communication) begins by describing ‘the author’ and discussing the relevance of communication theory. After thoroughly dissecting the theory, the section concludes that Technical Communicators need to be ‘armed’ with technical knowledge as well as communication theory. In ‘The Technical Communicator as Author?’ suggests that Technical Communicators were given the title Technical Author to somehow improve the professional standing of the role. It then goes on to discuss how Authorship and professional status may be an unfair burden to insist on. The author seems to have decided that the Technical Communicator is a Technical Author by another name, whilst we in the ISTC take Technical Communicator to be a broad range of related trades including Technical Author. This point makes much of the content only relevant to someone with the same opinion.
The conclusion of the book states that Technical Communication is in an “odd situation, arising as a profession during the very era in which traditional professions find themselves endangered.” and I have to agree. I take this to mean that we need to be more flexible than those traditional professions and to find our own way to professional status rather than seeking to follow those traditional professions.
Overall, I found this book to be a little confused. It discusses in some great detail how industry and academe (the world of learning, teaching and research) must be as one for the advancement of professional status, so you would think that the target audience was both industry and academe? Yet, even though I consider myself to be a well-articulated, fairly well educated ‘industry’ type, I found the book very difficult to read. In fact, I found myself constantly reaching for my reference library to decipher what I had just read.
That said, the book does have some very valid and useful points. As President of the ISTC, I have found the book very useful and it has given me some ideas. I think that this book is ideally suited to academics, professional association council members and Technical Communicators that have a specific interest in professional status.


Heavy Picks: The Robert Cray Band Collection
Heavy Picks: The Robert Cray Band Collection
Price: 7.75

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to Robert Cray, 15 Aug 2003
Having heard a few Robert Cray band tracks in the past, this album is confirmation that Robert Cray is the genius that I thought he was.
This compilation of tracks from throughout his career demonstrates his unequalled ability to blend Jazz, Blues and Soul in a way never achieved before. The re-mastering process has given a high quality recording without losing any of the original feel of the music.
I could listen to this album over and over again.


How to Do Everything with Dreamweaver MX
How to Do Everything with Dreamweaver MX
by Michael Meadhra
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book but..., 15 Aug 2003
For a website designer familiar with older versions of Dreamweaver, this book is a very good introduction to an updated and improved tool.
However, the book does seem to 'jump around' a lot, introducing advanced subjects early on and appearing to miss fundamental issues that a person who has not used Dreamweaver before might need.
Overall a good upgrade book, but not recommended for new users.


Robohelp 2000 Bible
Robohelp 2000 Bible
by John V. Hedtke
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars There's not much this book doesn't say, 15 Aug 2003
This review is from: Robohelp 2000 Bible (Paperback)
From an experienced RoboHelp user and Technical Authors point of view, this is an unrivaled reference book. There are methods and tools in this book that I'd never considered before, but I certainly will now.
From a newcomers point of view, this book not only teaches how to use RoboHelp to create help files but also teaches the basic theories and principles of creating on-line user information.
I've never seen a more comprehensive help authoring book.


Robohelp 2000 Bible
Robohelp 2000 Bible
by John V. Hedtke
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's not much this book doesn't say, 15 Aug 2003
This review is from: Robohelp 2000 Bible (Paperback)
From an experienced RoboHelp user and Technical Authors point of view, this is an unrivaled reference book. There are methods and tools in this book that I'd never considered before, but I certainly will now.
From a newcomers point of view, this book not only teaches how to use RoboHelp to create help files but also teaches the basic theories and principles of creating on-line user information.
I've never seen a more comprehensive help authoring book.


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