What TechComm Has Taught Me

At the beginning of this course, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what Technical Communication was. However, I was wrong in my thinking that “technical” restricted it to engineering and other technology-related fields. Since then I have realized that the techniques we have been learning can be applied to any document or even speech in which there is communication between two or more individuals. The topic that has stood out the most to me is identifying the reader or audience. I’ve chosen this topic simply because your decisions on just about everything else, from organizational structure to tone to even the form of communication utilized, stem from who your intended audience is. Like we saw with our gold and silver bad sales letter example, a document which does not properly suit its audience might as well never be created. After this course, I plan on taking more time before beginning communications to figure out exactly who my audience is and how to best suit their needs.

– Matt Williams –


Cost per Horsepower Infographic


My infographic (created using MS Excel and Gimp because I couldn’t find a template I liked online) shows how much each pony would have cost you if purchasing a 2010 sports car at sticker price. You may not consider the Smart a sports car, but I included it as a cheap, less-powerful reference. I was planning on including high-end supercars such as the Ferrari 599 GTO and Bugatti Veyron, but they threw off the scale enough to shrink the graph to the point where it was not legible. A major drawback, as noted below the graph, is that only power is compared here, not weight, torque, drag coefficients, etc., so a Miata or Exige will still beat a Mustang GT around certain tracks, for example, even with fewer horses and at a higher cost per unit of power. However, this image is meant to simply give an idea of what will get you the “best bang for your buck.”

– Matt Williams –

rules Be 4 Breaking

This blog post by Save the Semicolon, entitled “Rules Are for Breaking” makes the very bold statement that there is no real rule or law that requires people to use proper grammar. It is instead only “very good advice.” The author says that one can break a grammatical rule and still be considered a good writer – if breaking the rule is what’s best for the reader. Although unconventional, this reinforces the idea of identifying the audience and taking it’s needs and characteristics into consideration when producing a document. The author provides a few examples, but for the most part leaves it up to you to figure out when to break the “rules,” and when to follow the “advice.” My title for this post may not be grammatically correct, but hey it certainly got your attention, didn’t it? Go on. Don’t play by the rules. You know you wants to.

– Matt Williams –

source: http://savethesemicolon.com/2013/01/06/rules-are-for-breaking/

“Fun in the Bathroom” – Summary

The first blog post I chose to read and summarize comes from a blog called The Technogeek Diaries, authored by Leah Guren. Leah created this post, titled “Fun in the Bathroom,” on November 4, 2010 so it isn’t exactly new or current events, but I found it to be a good (or should I say bad) example of a simple application of technical communication.

In this post, Leah addresses two examples of unusual and unhelpful communication she stumbled across in a ladies’ restroom at a conference center in Wiesbaden, Germany. The first was a hand dryer with instructions that read “place hand in front of sensor” but in reality required the push of a button to operate. This wording is confusing, as many hand driers and other restroom fixtures are being switched over to touchless technology. The instructions lead the user to believe that the drier will turn on automatically rather than requiring a manual button to be pushed. This could simply be a “lost in translation” issue if the original German instructions were worded appropriately, but a company who supplies a large number of these driers to locations where many languages are spoken, the employee or group in charge of creating the labels or instructions should ensure that the final wording is accurate. The second example was of the sanitary product disposal unit which not only read “Lady Killer,” but also had the image of a handgun printed on the bags. Separately, or especially in combination, the name and graphic can be off-putting or even offensive to the users (audience).

– Matt Williams –