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SIGDOC Tables of Contents: 192021222324

ACM SIGDOC *Journal of Computer Documentation 23

Editors:T. R. Girill
Dates:1999
Volume:23
Publisher:ACM
Standard No:ISSN 0731-1001
Papers:31
Links:Table of Contents
  1. SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 1
  2. SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 2
  3. SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 3
  4. SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 4

SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 1

Information, Technical Writing, Knowledge, and Power BIBA 3-18
  Mattio Valentino
In this paper Valentino reproduces and discusses Marin County Resolution 97-20 (protesting NASA's launch of the Cassini spacecraft on which 72 pounds of plutonium were used to generate power) and NASA's informal and formal responses to that resolution (in which they summarize the technical arguments for Cassini's safety). His rhetorical analysis of these documents concludes that those "fluent in the privileged discourse of science" have disproportionate influence on public policy, even when health threats are involved. Three open commentaries accompany Valentino's article. In the first, Gregory Clark argues that "it is not the authority of knowledge" that dominates public policy, but rather "the authority of expertise," which comes primarily from institutional affiliation (19-21). In the second, Regina Lundgren contends that "their use of technical and bureaucratic language" often actually isolates scientists from power and from influence over democratic decision making (22-24). In the third, Larry Shuman shows by using public documents that the facts of the Marin/Cassini safety dispute fail to support the analysis that Valentino offers (25-27).
Technical Writing and the Authority of Expertise BIBA 19-21
  Gregory Clark
In the first of three commentaries on Valentino, Gregory Clark argues that "it is not the authority of knowledge" that dominates public policy, but rather "the authority of expertise," which comes primarily from institutional affiliation (19-21).
Note: [commentary]
Balance of Power BIBA 22-24
  Regina Lundgren
In the second of three commentaries on Valentino, Regina Lundgren contends that "their use of technical and bureaucratic language" often actually isolates scientists from power and from influence over democratic decision making (22-24).
Note: [commentary]
Commentary on a Case Study of NASA's Cassini Project BIBA 25-27
  Larry Shuman; Gerald Kayten
In the third of three commentaries on Valentino, Larry Shuman and Gerald Kayten show by using public documents that the facts of the Marin/Cassini safety dispute fail to support the analysis that Valentino offers (25-27).
Note: [commentary]
Home Sweet Home? Where Do Technical Communication Departments Belong BIBA 28-34
  Nina Wishbow
Wishbow takes up the influential but often neglected problem of where technical communication departments should best be located within the structure of large corporations or agencies. She systematically compares six different ways to place technical communicators in an organization, explicitly listing the varied strengths and weaknesses of each alternative and drawing out their social, political, and financial consequences.
Note: [awareness essay]
Looking Backward, Looking Forward BIBA 35-36
  Kathy Haramundanis
Notes from the SIGDOC chair.
Note: [news]

SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 2

Supporting Learners as Users BIBA 3-13
  Mark Guzdial
Guzdial points out the demanding hierarchy of educational goals that confront students whenever they "are in the position of being users of unmodified software like that used by professionals in their field, while they are still learning the [basic] knowledge of professionals in the field" (7). He then explains two fairly inexpensive scaffolding techniques that have helped compensate for these demands in his classes: (1) sharing a case library with each case "presented at multiple levels of detail," and (2) starting a collaborative web site where students exchange problem-solving examples. Both techniques improved student motivation as well as information. Three open commentaries immediately follow Guzdial's paper. In the first, Andrea diSessa argues for a more revolutionary "literacy model," in which students learn "one very rich piece of software, a computational medium, and reuse that skill again and again over many years in multiple contexts" (14-18). In the second, Stephen Draper notes that because most software users resemble Guzdial's educational learners in trying to do real work while learning new tools, his example-based and learner-created documentation techniques could have wide applicability (19-24). In the third commentary, Hans van der Meij scrutinizes Guzdial's own assumptions and web-site features, and contends that the alleged benefits of student collaboration deserve more careful study (25-31). All three commentators place their remarks in the larger context of constructivism and "minimal manuals."
How Should Students Learn? BIBA 14-18
  Andrea DiSessa
In the first of three commentaries on Guzdial, Andrea diSessa argues for a more revolutionary "literacy model," in which students learn "one very rich piece of software, a computational medium, and reuse that skill again and again over many years in multiple contexts."
Note: [commentary]
Supporting Use, Learning, and Education BIBA 19-24
  Stephen Draper
In the second of three commentaries on Guzdial, Stephen Draper notes that because most software users resemble Guzdial's educational learners in trying to do real work while learning new tools, his example-based and learner-created documentation techniques could have wide applicability.
Note: [commentary]
Supporting the Reader as User BIBA 25-31
  Hans Van der Meij
In the third of three commentaries on Guzdial, Hans van der Meij scrutinizes Guzdial's own assumptions and web-site features, and contends that the alleged benefits of student collaboration deserve more careful study.
Note: [commentary]
Fifteen Ways of Looking at Minimalism BIBA 34-47
  James Dubinsky
In this first of two related, extended book commentaries on John Carroll's Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel, Dubinsky systematically surveys and compares the 15 contributions to this anthology on computer documentation theory. All the essays either clarify minimalist design principles or critically explore how well minimalism deals with current documentation challenges. The commentary ends with a retrospective personal interview with John Carroll, highlighting his own hindsight views on minimalism's development and likely future.
Note: [book commentary]
The Proven and Potential Promises of Minimalism for Technical Communicators BIBA 48-56
  Eric Lodor
In this second of two related, extended book commentaries on John Carroll's Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel, Lodor focuses on minimalist documentation design from the practitioner's perspective. His comments probe especially those chapters that debate whether minimalism is applicable to complex domains, to the needs of expert users, and to corporate publishing environments where cost dominates quality (or at least usability) as a documentation priority.
Note: [book commentary]
The Engineer as Technical Writer and Document Designer BIBA 57-61
  C. Hugh Marsh
As corporate downsizing shrinks the professional editorial staffs available to support many engineering departments, working engineers are increasingly expected to handle their own technical writing and document design. Marsh tells how UC Santa Barbara's engineering program has responded to this trend by increasing its required writing courses, and how those engineering writing courses are structured to meet changing student needs.
Note: [awareness essay]
SIGDOC 1999 Program Preview BIBA 62-63
  Stuart Selber
Planned features and highlights of the SIGDOC 1999 conference.
Note: [news]

SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 3

Introduction to this Classic Reprint and Commentaries BIBA 2-3
  Bob Waite
Waite explains why the STOP report was selected as a JCD classic reprint and the stance each of four commentators takes in retrospectively assessing its significance.
Note: [introduction]
Sequential Thematic Organization of Publications (STOP) BIBA 4-68
  J. R. Tracey; D. E. Rugh; W. S. Starkey
The Sequential Thematic Organization of Publications (STOP) is an influential, controversial, highly structured method for planning and then producing multi-author technical reports (especially proposals) that was developed at Hughes Aircraft in the 1960s. This classic reprint reproduces (with permission) the entire original STOP analysis (long out of print), including the explanatory diagrams, followed by four contemporary commentaries that discuss its impact over the last 30 years. Author Wendel Starkey also offers his own look back at STOP's significance (102-103).
Note: [classic reprint]
STOP: Light on the History of Outlining BIBA 69-78
  Jonathan Price
By providing a detailed and thoroughly referenced review of the history of outlining, Price argues that "the STOP team took outlining as far as they could on paper" (76), and they even anticipated recent developments in flexible, electronic outlining. STOP criticizes static, classificatory outlines in favor of active, thematic outlines (presented as storyboards), thus promoting the view (favored by Price) that revisable outlining can be a key feature of persuasive collaborative writing.
Note: [commentary]
Anticipations of Hypertext: STOP and the Literary Machine BIBA 79-86
  Mark Bernstein
"In addressing document engineering needs of the 1960s," contends Bernstein, "STOP anticipates the [hypertext] documentation controversies of the 1990s" (79), including debates about the importance of information modularity, the value of "explicit hierarchical structure and persuasive navigational cues" (81), and the role of images in technical text. But STOP overlooked the impact of both audience diversity and reader participation in interpreting complex publications.
Note: [commentary]
Two Approaches to Modularity: Comparing the STOP Approach with Structured Writing BIBA 87-95
  Robert Horn
Both STOP and information mapping's "structured writing" reject unmodular prose composition as ineffective. But Horn looks below the surface to find many underlying differences: where STOP is broadly formulaic, structured writing invokes detailed content analysis, instructional design techniques, an elaborate scheme for creating variable-sized modules, and similarly complex rules for text-graphics integration.
Note: [commentary]
Bits, Atoms, and the Technical Writer: The Rhetoric of STOP BIBA 96-101
  Edmond H. Weiss
Weiss, for whom STOP's proposal-design technique "was the only important innovation in technical communication since Aristotle," complains here that "the assertive rhetoric of STOP -- in which authors took complete responsibility for the actual physical form of their message -- is yielding to a passive or neutral rhetoric in which writers create resources and the readers/receivers extract and shape the message to suit their preferences" (96).
Note: [commentary]
Author's Response to Commentaries BIBA 102-103
  Wendel S. Starkey
Original STOP co-author Starkey notes in retrospect how important STOP was in managing multi-author projects and in giving editors a key role in guiding proposal structure.
Note: [introduction]
SIGDOC99 Program, Travel, and Registration News BIBA 104-108
  Johndan Johnson-Eilola
Program summary and registration details for the annual conference.
Note: [news]

SIGDOC 1999 Volume 23 Issue 4

Winograd, Terry. (1999)Documentation, Interaction, and Conversation BIBA 3-7
 
From the perspective of an artificial intelligence researcher now acquainted with digital libraries, Winograd argues that documentation, however well executed, is never an end in itself but always just a means to user performance, "a part of getting something done that they care about." He compares documentation use with other user "conversations" (with software and other people) to contend that "there is no boundary at which the interface stops and the documentation begins" (5). Hence an awareness of "how people actually work in living situations" (7) is crucial for good documentation design. Two open commentaries immediately follow Winograd's paper. In the first, Whitney Quesenbery (8-11) elaborates on the holistic, integrative role of documentation (which Winograd admits near the end of his paper). Writers are often the only staff members who see a whole product from the user's perspective, and their insight into user mental models should have influence earlier in the design process. In the second commentary, Dennis Wixon (12-14) examines Winograd's examples again and finds that in designing both documentation and product interfaces the best goal is to match user needs in diversity as well as in grain size.
Documentation's Holistic Role BIBA 8-11
  Whitney Quesenbery
In the first of two commentaries on Winograd, Whitney Quesenbery elaborates on the holistic, integrative role of documentation (which Winograd admits near the end of his paper). Writers are often the only staff members who see a whole product from the user's perspective, and their insight into user mental models should have influence earlier in the design process.
Note: [commentary]
Rethinking Documentation and Interface: Reflections on Categorical Approaches BIBA 12-14
  Dennis Wixon
In the second of two commentaries on Winograd, Dennis Wixon examines Winograd's examples again and finds that in designing both documentation and product interfaces the best goal is to match user needs in diversity as well as in grain size.
Note: [commentary]
Assisting the Virtual User BIBA 15-21
  John Ober
With examples drawn from the web interface to the California Digital Library, Ober argues in this awareness essay that a gentle return to some of the goals of earlier artificial intelligence projects could build flexible user assistance into otherwise confusing software interfaces. "Confusion recognizers" that deploy help "just in time" to overcome barriers, and "pedagogically aware" features that educate uses as well as merely rescue them, are two promising (though seldom seen) examples of such adaptive online assistance.
Note: [awareness essay]
Expanding English Studies to Include Workplace Writing BIBA 23-26
  M. Ann Brady
In this first of three related, extended book commentaries on Garay and Berhnardt's Expanding Literacies, Brady summarizes many of the essays in this anthology on teaching technical writing in high schools and community colleges. She then expresses her concern that "what the collection does not offer is resistance to conventional notions of teachers serving industry uncritically, reviewing and revising their pedagogy without asking for what purpose..."
Note: [book commentary]
(Ex)panding (Lit)eracies: Taking English Out of Bounds BIBA 27-29
  Evelyn Johnson
In this second of three related, extended book commentaries on Garay and Berhnardt's Expanding Literacies, Johnson acknowledges that "the authors manage to make the case that English instruction must include literacies that students will use in their work lives." But she urges curricular reform that still leaves students with a "wide-angle lens on the world and a critique in their hearts," and that leaves teachers victorious in any corporate "power plays within the community of the school."
Note: [book commentary]
Worries About the New Literacies BIBA 30-34
  Dale Sullivan
In this third of three related, extended book commentaries on Garay and Berhnardt's Expanding Literacies, Sullivan as "critic of technological society" debates with Sullivan as "practical rhetorician" about whether this book's advice is healthy or unhealthy for schools and their students. Reluctant to give up the usual humanistic emphasis in writing classes, he nevertheless recognizes that "contextualized writing in real world situations" is just what he himself advocated during his days directing a "writing across the curriculum" university program.
Note: [book commentary]
The HCI Bibliography and SIGDOC BIBA 36
  Gary Perlman
The URL, description, and coverage policy of a web site that unifies most of the HCI literature.
Note: [news]
IPCC/SIGDOC 2000 Call for Papers BIBA 37-38
  Susan B. Jones
How to contribute to the joint IPCC/SIGDOC international conference at Cambridge, MA, in September, 2000.
Note: [news]