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global news sites

Here are the links that I mentioned in my presentation. There are many others out there, of course, but some of these might prove productive if you were trying to give students a different perspective on world events.

I found this first group of sites the most interesting:

The rest of these are more predictably oriented:


Henry, Chapter 4

Henry, Chapter 4:


  • Implied authors: A persona of the writer which embodies cultural norms and values (74)
  • Suspension of personal values in service of the organization may be required
  • Vague discourse is sometimes most effective
  • Self-documentation needs to be developed
  • Editing as cultural renewal or reproduction
  • The organization employs writers; writers may employ the organizational culture


  • Writers as “discursive functionaries” (74)
  • Status within the organization as an important part of self-identity as a writer

–> the functionary status is unrewarding (76)

–> discrepancy between status and purview undercuts projects

–>the notion of “flexibility” leads to a tenuous status


  • Roles may emerge (from “daughter” to “idea generator” to “translator”), but social roles can influence professional roles negatively (77)
  • Writers should try to elaborate their own roles
  • The “talking handbook” is an archaic role
  • Better: “idea generator” who sparks discussion (78)
  • The roles of teams are certain to diversify
  • Writers are links to the exterior

Document Processes

  • Document routing and repetitive publication processes can lead to reluctance towards accepting new concepts (81)
  • Writers may encounter disparities between information they receive and information necessary to be efficient
  • Because of hierarchies, writers may be subject to disciplining
  • Collective authorship: writers mesh individuality with collective representation
  • Frequently shifting subjectivities as team members
  • Workplace subjectivities are not only shaped by local culture, but also by links to outside cultures (e.g. collaboration)

Subcultural Dynamics

  • A writer’s subjectivity encounters other subjectivities shaped by organizational positioning (84)
  • Writers will encounter ways of knowing grounded in other kinds of discourse communities and discursive practices
  • Writers may encounter dynamics from below, beside or above them in the hierarchy

Cultural Stabilization and Change

  • Writers can be both agents of stabilization and agents of change (86)
  • Writers are likely to be strongly socialized into a culture’s norms and values
  • Writers’ subjectivities shift with organizational changes

Organizational Goals

  • Writers are unlikely to realize personal goals if they are opposed to larger organizational goals (88)
  • In some context, organizational goals and organizational authorship are nearly synonymous

New Unities

  • Resituate “role” with respect to ongoing social constructions of realities à discourse, events (88)
  • Monitor own writing practices in relation to the local culture’s norms and values (89)
  • Perceive subcultural dynamics
  • Assume greater say in organizational goals


experiential learning, indeed!

From the New York Times:

teaching case studies

I like the Zoetewey & Staggers model, in “teaching the Air Midwest Case,” for a professional writing course built around a case study. I’ll admit that I’m drawn to the case study approach—or some other theme or organizing principle—as much for selfish reasons as any others. Why? For several reasons we’ve discussed over the semester, primarily the need I feel to root this kind of class in as much of a “real world” setting as I can muster in a classroom on a campus amid a culture that many students, I think, see as comfortably removed from what-comes-after-college. Perhaps I’ll feel differently after I’ve taught the course a few times. But for now, I feel like I’ll be a better teacher if I can get students working on and toward something “real,” something concrete. I do have concerns, of course, among them selecting the “right” case or topic (something rich enough to warrant a semester’s worth of attention and work); sustaining student interest; dealing with the ups and downs of intensive collaborative work; and balancing the need for up-front planning and flexibility. So, I think I’m going to take this approach for my course syllabus project—I’ll try to turn the class into a working, information and knowledge producing enterprise from which the students and I can all learn.

Spinuzzi: Networks, Chapter 3, main points

Here is my brief rundown of chapter 3. The assignment related to the material will follow on Friday this week.

Activity system: Mediational means based on subject/object relation towards an outcome, which in turn is based on rules, community, and division of labor


  • Primary: conflict between exchange value and use value
  • Secondary: conflict between the corners of the activity system
  • Tertiary: conflict between culture and object (example: a pre-school kid wants to go to school to play, but the parents and teachers expect him to learn)

Different systems:

a) Chained (mass production/modular)

b) Overlapping (knotworking, self-organization)


  • Polycontextuality (tasks and communities)
  • Boundary crossing (between tools, relationships, social languages, etc.)
  • Problematization (stakeholders problem)
  • Interessement (defining stakeholders, splicing)
  • Enrollment (definition of roles)
  • Mobilization (collective solution/representation)

Pragmatics opens the system up to other things (pragmatism not as a negative concept)

Common ground between activity theory and actor-network theory: both are monist and materialist approaches to define activity



Info Ecology

Nardi offers that an information ecology is “A system of people, practices, value and technologies in a particuliar local environment. In information ecologies.” In Information ecologies, the spotlight falls not upon technology, but on human activities served by technologies. Spinnuzzi illuminates the social memory/tradition of use of genre and “genre ecologies.”. For Spinnuzzi genre developed so [people] can accomplish activities; his definition of genre shares the focus upon human activities.

The question I would ask of both Nardi and Spinnuzzi’s work is:

What assignment could one develop that focuses upon rhetorical human activities performed with tools?

Such an assignment would include the following questions:
– How have the activities in a particuliar ecology adapted over time?
– How have technical writers used tools to persuade within this ecology?
– Provide an example of a writing technology, would you call it an artifact?
– How have people used rhetorical tools to display/define expertise in this ecology?

Reading Spinuzzi with me…

Reading through Spinuzzi, I wonder: where is he taking us? I get the victim trope but I see a problem forming because as he admits he isn’t going to provide us with a design methodology – in his work he is merely pointing out the “flaws” in one methodology…..

He implies that could be done, though, in another book. But I wonder: can it? Can one suffuse innovation as vital to work and also work to create a methodology that doesn’t just discipline innovation into being (like ancient greek progymnasta) but sees it as its foundation? Or am I reading something wrong?

So he then goes into the “context” or scope issue – is this a “context is not limited” Derrida argument in SEC? Here looking for the “crux” surely limits the context. I wonder at this point – how would this idea read in 400-level business class?

Next, I appreciate the “co-constitutive” talk that dovetails in talk about agency in ch 2. And of course this is highly rhetorical…. or as he puts “sociocultural theory”…

End of 2  – ok, genre tracing seems to be the “method” he is not going to give us – I think he is staying true to offering a methodology and not a method, but where should we draw the line in terms of “genre tracing?” I like the conceptual tie between artifacts and genre as “social action  and this tie allows him to do the work of intergrating the “levels.” My question at this point is: these opening snippets of people…they seem to work as “little people” in his big picture, but all he seems to do is mention them again. Did I miss something in chap 2?

Ch 3 – wait. the snippets at the beginning are fictional?