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Plain2013 What's in a Name Neil James


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What's in a name? Future of Plain Language in a Converging Communication Profession by Neil James, Plain English Foundation, Australia

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Plain2013 What's in a Name Neil James

  1. 1.   What’s  in  a  name?   The  future  for  plain  language  in  a   converging  communica7on  profession! Dr Neil James! Plain English Foundation! Australia! ! ! !  
  2. 2. N   The school reunion   So what do you do now?! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  3. 3. N   The school reunion test   Activity Field Practitioner Checking your health Medicine Doctor Doing a tax return Accounting Accountant Learning new skills Education Teacher Building a house Construction Builder Buying a property Real estate Real estate agent Fixing your pipes Plumbing Plumber Preparing a document ? ? What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  4. 4. N   A problem we share   •  •  •  •  •  •  Plain language! Editing! Technical writing! Information design! Usability! Corporate communications! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N     ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  5. 5. N   What’s in a name?   What’s in a name?! That which we call a rose! By any other name! would smell as sweet.! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N     ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  6. 6. What’s in a name?! Topics for the session! 1.  A fragmented profession! 2.  Reuniting communication! 3.  The pressure to converge! 4.  Implications for the future!
  7. 7. N   Why so fragmented?   •  •  •  •  •  •  Plain language! Editing! Technical writing! Information design! Usability! Corporate communications! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  8. 8. 5 reasons   N   1.  Historical contexts! 2.  Fragmented theoretical base! 3.  Rapidly changing practice! 4.  Commercial pressures! 5.  Divided institutional base! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  9. 9. 1. Historical contexts N     Field Context Plain language Government and legal documents Technical writing Engineering and technical documents Information design Graphic and product design Editing Books, newspapers and magazines Corporate communications Public relations and marketing Usability Human factors engineering What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  10. 10. 2. FragmentedN  theory   A  survey of 7 communications texts:! •  249 ‘theories’ of communication! •  80 per cent (195) appeared in only one book.! •  Only 7 per cent (18) were included in more than 3 books.! ! Source: J A Anderson, Communication theory: ! Epistemological foundations. New York, Guilford Press, 1996.! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  11. 11. 3. We evolved N   rapidly   Period Key developments in technical writing Pre-1900 Morrill  Acts  1862  liKed  educa7on  of  engineers   Colleges  faced  literacy  gaps  in  engineering  students   Early 20th century Chandler  Earle’s  1911  defini7on  of  ‘wri7ng  abili7es’   1920s  Sada  Harbager  English  for  Engineers   1940s-1960s World    War  ll  boosted  demand  for  technological   skills,  along  with  long  tail  economic  boom     First  technical  wri7ng  socie7es  and  textbooks   1970s-1980s First  major  technical  wri7ng  journals   Growth  in  academic  programs,  distant  from  industry   1990s-2000s Impact  of  the  personal  computer,  DTP,  word   processing,  usability  and  content  management   What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  12. 12. 3. We evolved N   rapidly   Period Key developments in plain language 1940s-1960s Ernest  Gowers  (UK)  and  Rudolph  Flesch  (USA)   Focus  on  expression  elements     Applica7on  in  government  and  media   1970s-1980s Rise  of  consumer  movement  and  Plain  English   Campaign.  Mar7n  Cu`s  Guide  and  Clarity   Addi7on  of  structure  and  document  design   1990spresent Influence  in  law,  finance  and  insurance   Growing  use  of  tes7ng  and  design   Expansion  of  applica7on   Center  for  Plain  Language  and  US  Plain  Wri7ng  Act   PLAIN  and  IPLWG   What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  13. 13. 4. CommercialN  pressures   ‘Is plain language enough?! Many organizations are realizing that in fact more is needed. To achieve the goals of plain language - clarity and good comprehension - documents must go beyond the use of simplified vocabulary and sentence structure. …! Good content design enables readers to quickly and easily find and digest the information they need. This expanded definition is often referred to as clear and effective communications. …! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  14. 14. 5. Institutional N   silos   •  PLAIN and Clarity! •  STC, Tekom and IEEE! •  International Institute for Information Design! •  Societ(ies) of Editors! •  International Association Business Communicators ! •  Usability Professionals Association! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  15. 15. N   Parallel evolution   What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  16. 16. What’s in a name?! Topics for the session! 1.  A fragmented profession! 2.  Reuniting communication! 3.  The pressure to converge! 4.  Implications for the future!
  17. 17. N   One discipline?   ! ‘We really are all about the user experience. My definition of usability is identical to my definition of Plain Language, my definition of reader-focused writing, my definition of document design … ! We’re here to make the product work for people.’! Ginny Redish! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  18. 18. Can we unite?  N   1.  A common heritage! 2.  Overlapping definitions! 3.  Differences of degree! 4.  The push to professionalise! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  19. 19. N   1. A common heritage?   Rhetorical—communication as practical discourse.! Semiotic—communication as mediation by signs.! Phenomenological—communication as experience of otherness.! Cybernetic—communication as information processing.! Sociopsychological—communication as expression, interaction and influence.! Sociocultural—communication as (re)production of social order.! Critical—communication as discursive reflection.! ! Robert T Craig ‘Communication theory as a field’ 1999.! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  20. 20. N   The rhetorical tradition   5 canons of rhetoric! •  Inventio—developing content.! •  Dispositio—arranging the text.! •  Elocutio—setting the style.! •  Pronuntiatio—delivering a speech.! •  Memoria—remembering the text.! ! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  21. 21. N   Rhetorical canons today   Traditional canon Traditional application Current equivalent Inventio! ‘Discovery’ of arguments! Content! Dispositio! Arrangement of a speech! Structure! Elocutio! Setting language level! Expression! Pronuntiatio! Delivery of a speech! Design! Memoria! Data storage! Memorising long passages of text! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  22. 22. 2. OverlappingN  definitions   Plain language! ‘A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.! Source: International Plain Language Working Group! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  23. 23. N   Technical writing   ‘Technical communication is a broad field and includes any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:! •  Communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations.! •  Communicating by using technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites.! •  Providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of how technical the task is or even if technology is used to create or distribute that communication.’! ! Source: What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  24. 24. N   Information design   ‘Information design is the defining, planning, and shaping of the contents of a message and the environments in which it is presented, with the intention to satisfy the information needs of the intended recipients.’ "! Source:! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  25. 25. Usability   N   ISO 9241-11! ‘[Usability refers to] the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.’! Source: definitions_of_usability.html! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  26. 26. N   Spot the difference   •  The subject matter?! •  The writing process?! •  The use of technology?! •  The people we date?! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  27. 27. N   3. Degrees of difference   •  Contexts we operate in! •  Texts we work with! •  Extent of our intervention! •  Focus of our work! •  Methods we apply! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  28. 28. N   A rhetorical spectrum   What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  29. 29. 4. The push to N  professionalise   Our other common headache! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  30. 30. N   The options paper   1.  A common definition! 2.  International standards! Clarity !"#$%&'()''''''''''!*+%#$%&',-./*"&012'*3'45% 604%&0146*012' 177*86146*0 9&*#*460:' 92160'2%:12'210:"1:% 3.  Training! 4.  Research! E0'4567'677"% Dr Annetta Cheek 1. Defining plain language 5 Lynda Harris, Susan Kleimann and Christine Mowat 2. Setting plain language standards 6.  Certification! ?"%74'%<64*&'3*&'4567'677"%= !%62'/1#%7 ?"%74'%<64*&'3*&'!"#$%&''(@= A10<&1'B675%&CD1&4607'10< /1#%7'B675%& 33 Carlos Valdovinos 5. Advocating plain language ;<64*&'60'856%3= /"26%'>2%#%04 26 Dr Karen Schriver and Frances Gordon 4. Grounding plain language in research 5.  Advocacy! 16 Helena Englund Hjalmarsson and Karine Nicolay 3. Training for plain language 40 Sandra Fisher-Martins 6. Certifying plain language 46 Dr Neil James and Eamonn Moran 7. Strengthening plain language institutions 54 Clarity and general news This issue Contributing to the journal Member and other news and events How to join Clarity Message from the Presidents 3 32 53 61 62 7.  A governing body! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  31. 31. N   Testing professional status   1.  2.  3.  4.  5.  6.  7.  8.  9.  10.  11.  12.  Full time occupation! Work based on extensive theoretical framework! Field with presence in universities! Requires extensive specific education ! Professional association or institute! Testing and certification of competence! Code of ethics or conduct! Fee paid work for individual clients! Mobility and autonomy of practitioner ! Institutional experience and ongoing learning! Recognition of social benefit of occupation! Regulation and authorisation through statute! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  32. 32. Criteria   Edi*ng   Tech.   comms   N   ü     Plain   lang.   Info.   design   Testing professional ü     ü     status   Full  7me  occupa7on   ü     Theore7cal  framework   Usability   ü     Part   Part   Part   Part   Part   ü   ü     Part   Part   Part   Part   Part   Part   Part   Part   Fee-­‐paid  work   ü   ü   ü   ü   ü   Mobility  and  autonomy   ü   ü   ü   ü   ü   Part   Part   Part   Part   Part   Professional  associa7on   ü   ü   ü   ü   ü   Tes7ng  and  cer7fica7on   ü   Part   û     û     û     Part   Part   û   û   Part   Regula7on  through  statute   û   û   ü   Part   û   State  recogni7on  of  benefit   û   û   ü   Part   û   University  presence   Extensive  specific  educa7on   Exp.  and  ongoing  learning   Code  of  ethics   What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  33. 33. What’s in a name?! Topics for the session! 1.  A fragmented profession! 2.  Reuniting communication! 3.  The pressure to converge! 4.  Implications for the future!
  34. 34. N   What is convergence?   Technological convergence: the tendency for different technologies to evolve toward performing similar tasks.! Digital convergence: the merging of IT, telecommunications, electronics and entertainment industries.! Accounting convergence: the development of single accounting standards internationally! ! Logic: the tendency for different transformations of the same state to end up at the same end state.! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  35. 35. N   Communication convergence   The tendency for different communication fields over time to apply a common range of methods.! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  36. 36. The pressures N   converge   to 1.  Technology! 2.  Information age! 3.  State sanction! 4.  Self-interest! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  37. 37. 1. Technology N   main driver   the •  Writer! •  Editor! •  Typesetter! •  Designer! •  Proofreader! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  38. 38. N   The disappearing proofreader   Letterpress: attached to printing presses! Offset lithography: moved to publisher! Digital printing: merged with editorial! E-publishing: outsourced or merged! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  39. 39. N   2. The information age   What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  40. 40. N   3. State sanction   The Plain Writing Act! ‘To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing plain language as the standard style for Government documents issued to the public.’! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  41. 41. N   4. Our own interest   1.  Resources! 2.  Recognition! 3.  Impact! 4.  Income! 5.  Professional status! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  42. 42. What’s in a name?! Topics for the session! 1.  A fragmented profession! 2.  Reuniting communication! 3.  The pressure to converge! 4.  Implications for the future!
  43. 43. N   The plain language future   •  Communication will be highly fluid! •  There will continue to be a demand for us! •  We need to adapt to new skills and methods! •  Opportunities will emerge across fields! •  There will be increasing reason to converge! !What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  44. 44. N   Step 1: start some dialogue   •  Within each field! •  Between fields! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  45. 45. N   Step 2: do some research   •  What do we each do?! •  Where do we work?! •  What texts do we work on?! •  What skills do we have?! •  What do we earn?! •  What are we called?! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  46. 46. N   Step 3: put pieces together   •  Draw from research! •  Formalise the dialogue! •  Look at institutional options! •  Consider federation or mergers! •  Move cautiously! ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  47. 47. N   Step 4: engage stakeholders   Academy! •  Unify research and theory! •  Negotiate a home! Industry! •  Research job requirements! •  Map future benefits! Government! ! •  Inform and seek support! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  48. 48. N   Step 5: pick a name   •  Plain language ! •  Clear communication! •  Technical writing! •  Information design! •  Editing! •  Usability! •  Professional communication! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  49. 49. N   My crystal ball   •  Plain language ! •  Clear communication! •  Technical writing! •  Information design! •  Editing! •  Usability! •  Professional communication! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  50. 50. N   More at the conference…   E:! T: @drplainenglish! W:! F:! nt to display ise what is consistent conveyed via your ologies. s demonstrate the business. suasively can make all the in government or law, hances are that writing takes place, even the best ideas can x to write more effective mos. Whether you need help ext, selecting the right tone the practical tools to achieve for professionals at all nd effective. hich bewilders and baffles rave clarity and brevity. t they want.’ Neil James riting workshops with orkplace examples to show in practice. Writing at Work ting is a key nal success $30  at  conference   $20 at conference! WRITING & EDITING What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013  
  51. 51. N   Copyright notice   This presentation is the property of Neil James, the Plain English Foundation, and other respective owners, and is protected by copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. It can only be viewed and downloaded for personal and non-commercial use. Material must not be reproduced in any form, or used for any purpose other than for individual reference, unless the owners give permission to do so in writing. ! What’s  in  a  name?   Neil  James  plenary  PLAIN  2013  Vancouver   N   ©  Plain  English  Founda7on  2013