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Technical Writing, September 3rd, 2013
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Technical Writing, September 3rd, 2013


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  • 1. TODAY 1) Icebreaker 2) Rhetoric: Check it out! 3) Activity: Boothed 4) Activity part II: find a resume and get rhetorical on it 5) Share and discuss 6) Homework
  • 2. Icebreaker Another quick Icebreaker: give us your name and tell us what NFL team you’re rooting for this kickoff weekend. Or, if you dislike football, what you plan to do with your Sunday afternoon. :)
  • 3. The Readings We’re going to catch up on discussing the Anderson readings very soon. I’ve been stalling just a bit on those because I know a few of you are still securing the book. But make sure you’re keeping up. I don’t want to have to pop an Anderson quiz. For today, though, we’re going to focus our attention on the Booth reading.
  • 4. Rhetoric Before we look specifically at Booth, though, I’m going to do a little bit of the same of what he did and break down some very basic foundational rhetorical concepts for you.
  • 5. Starting with Aristotle Aristotle, famed Greek thinker, is considered the “Father” of rhetoric. His theories are many, but the key foundation he formed for rhetorical theory can all be mapped elegantly to a simple triangle. Anyone remember that rhetorical triangle?
  • 6. Cicero Moving to Cicero, we get the five canons of rhetoric. They are: Invention Arrangement Memory Style Delivery
  • 7. Invention Is akin to brainstorming. It’s about finding WHAT to say. While the invention process might be peppered with other things, it is primarily a moment of logic. What do you want to say?
  • 8. Arrangement Arrangement is concerned with how the things you want to say are put together. This can be as simple as knowing what order you want to present things in, but in technical communication it has a great impact on things like headings and figures as well as sequence and visual arrangement on the screen.
  • 9. Style Style is about ethos to a degree, and logos to a degree, but it’s more than anything the home of pathos in Cicero’s canons. HOW are you going to say what you’re going to say? What’s your voice? How’s this going to look?
  • 10. Delivery Delivery is really the key to this whole system. How are you going to GET what you want to say TO the audience? Today, this is all about formats and media, but it’s also about things like tone, about choices like what type of paper to use, email vs. fax, etc.
  • 11. Memory In Cicero’s time, you had to memorize anything you delivered, lest you look silly trying to read from the almost non-existent forms of paper you might find in Rome.  But the canon of memory isn’t as much about remembering– it’s about knowing your material cold so that you can switch-it-up if you need to. In the business world the difference between being good and being great is how you handle heat, and memory here is a measure of that.
  • 12. And a third Because we’re going to look at document design, I’m going to jump from Greece and Rome to something a lot more modern and the work of Robin Williams. No– not THAT Robin Williams. The designer Robin Williams, and his theory of C.R.A.P.
  • 13. As funny as it is… … making CRAP jokes, it really is a foundational premise of design, and it’s deeply important (and thanks to our sense of humor usually quite memorable). The letters, of course, stand for: Contrast Repetition Alignment Proximity
  • 14. Contrast Basically stated, contrast means that things that are similar look similar but things that are different look clearly different. This keeps your reader from becoming confused and creating relationships that aren’t present. It comes, of course, from literal contrast, the light-to-dark or black-to-white of an image. In design it often ends up being about color values.
  • 15. This image is a great example, and it is also a hyperlink to a great blog entry on contrast, if you want to learn
  • 16. Repetition Maybe the easiest of these four concepts to define, repetition is, just as you’d guess, repeating something– a color, a logo, a typeface, a type style. It unifies and organizes.
  • 17. Alignment Alignment is about positioning on a page. Nothing should be put on haphazardly. There should be a reason and a measurement that guides where things are placed in relation to each other.
  • 18. The image to the right links to a post that has some cool reflection on alignment. And there’s all kinds of alignment going on with the new Windows 8 start page.
  • 19. Proximity Proximity is very similar in theory to alignment, but it’s more about grouping and use of white space. Basically: similar things are grouped together, different things require space.
  • 20. Back to Booth I’d like you to quickly form groups of three. Go through the Booth reading and look for a rhetorical concept or framework I didn’t mention in this mini-lecture, and put it into a one paragraph (or so) summation in your own words.
  • 21. And then… … find a resume online. Any resume, really. Just so it has content. Then I want you to do a rhetorical analysis of it, using Aristotle’s ideas, Cicero’s ideas, C.R.A.P. and whatever other piece you pulled from Booth to determine how well or how poorly the resume is put together.
  • 22. Homework For Thursday, read Anderson, chapter 8, and the sample resume I posted on the schedule. If you haven’t located a copy of the book, you need to make sure to do that ASAP. I held off digging too deeply into that material, but we need to start doing that on Thursday. And remember your rough drafts are due a week from today. See you Thursday!