Portfolio Update

April 9, 2010

This is an update about my portfolio.

Here is a list of submissions that are, at least, up for consideration and their status and description.

1. “Technical Writing” book review from the STC Newsletter. This has been edited and approved and published. I fully intend on using this article.

2. “Lili & Syd Meet Fire Bear” is a creative writing sample; it is a short story that I have intended on being one part of a series. I want to work on fine tuning this more but I am convinced on using this as well.

3. Editing practice forms from my Tech Editing course. I am not confident about using this but I want, and may need, some kind of editing sample.

4. In Design Project. I wanted to include this in my portfolio and I may still do so but I haven’t completed it yet and I have been having difficulty using it. I have ideas for creating a poster, business card(s), and a multiple page document.

5. New Criticism Response paper. I don’t know what to make of it — whether or not something like this is appropriate but I reason that anything is better than nothing. It will, at least, demonstrate my ability to string sentences together. This one, however has two sentences that I have been having difficulty determining if they are correct or not.

6. Marxism Response paper. This is completely reviewed and I can’t improve it anymore. I will probably use this.

7. America in the 1950s paper. A brief essay that is not super great but might be good enough.

8. Imperialism, By All Means, Please paper. This is a little better than America in the 1950s but is also a brief essay that may only be just good enough.

9. The Pioneers response paper. Completed to my best ability and is probably going to be included.

10. Art and the Artist in a Room of One’s Own paper. I think it is edited well enough. I think that I believe in this paper.

11. The Language of Love paper. I am somewhat confident with my revisions. This is a brief essay that is not very formal but has its merits and I am strongly considering it for inclusion.

12. Helen: An Analysis of an Original Poem paper. This still needs some work but should prove to be worthy of inclusion.

13. A Hero for All Times paper. I am not confident about including this. I really would need some feedback on this one.

14. Various other papers that I haven’t yet re-typed from the original source.

15. Two papers from my visual rhetoric course which are still needing a final edit but wil be included.

Each paper will have a facing page that has an introductory statement regarding that particular paper. I am trying to develop more examples of computer skills with various software. This encourages me to include visual imagery as submissions. I am thinking of any and all things to put in the portfolio including creative writing and photography and anything that may exist where someone said something nice about me in writing.

April 5th

March 29, 2010

The Future of Technical Communication
Albers

“…practically all technical communicators consider technology essential to their jobs. Interestingly, except for single sourcing and content management, they all tend to simply accept the technology without considering how it shapes how technical communicators interact.”

That is both understandable and baffling. Where is that keen objective critical thinking us Liberal Arts majors are supposed to have? Eh.

“…there is a strong resistance to teaching tools. Because the tools change so rapidly, the practicality of teaching specific tools is suspect.”

Even though later on in this paragraph Albers and I seem to see eye to eye on this issue I must comment. I see this as one issue I can relate to his school’s students about. How incredibly foolish these teachers Albers speaks of come across. Yes, technology or tools change and rapidly even but the basic ideas behind them all are related. Learning these tools and technologies are just as relevant to the educational foundation that any theory course would provide in any liberal arts program or TC program. The students can get exposure to things they may never heard of before; things that employers want job candidates to know – and they can learn and grow on their own as these tools and technologies change. It is all about getting experience and exposure developing the tools to adapt and learn away from the classroom, right? Heck, our views on a lot of science, theory, literature, pedagogy, et al have altered over time and generations, right – so where is the uproar over that?

The point of any program that is not vocational training is, or ought to be, about laying a foundation of education – broad enough even to serve as a jumping off point where the student can independently grow and gather experience.

Technical Communication in the 21st Century
Killingsworth

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The Future of Technical Communication
Giammona

There may not be a future for technical communication as I learned last week. It’s unfortunate.
I am a dinosaur and I am not yet 30 years old. I remember a time without the internet and I still buy cds and own vinyl – and yes, I believe in reading, writing and editing skills. I must not use technology in the same fashion as my fellow Gen-Xers or Gen-Yers (whichever generation label I fall under). All of this doom in gloom in 2002? This is so far a very gloomy read. No offense Neil Perlin, but I like artsy cubicle but I agree if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work.
If the point of this is to encourage it just makes things more uncomfortable. If reading this is to be a sober reminder of the future then it has worked. Excuse me while I slit my wrists and update my resume.

Portfolio Update

March 29, 2010

Errrgh

my portfolio isn’t coming together well right now. part of the problem is distraction, another part is having to scrape the barrel for portfolio items and then re-write or edit them, and the other part is not getting the hang of my new computer software projects. things aen’t coming together easily. time is an issue to a degree — i’m just not feeling ‘with it’ this semester.

Lemon 2

March 24, 2010

I’m not sure if it is possible to feel more confused and frustrated about everything but I am.

There is a lot of space junk floating around and it is hard to motivate myself after all this time, especially when I can’t see anything ahead of me clearly. Just a great feeling of confusion and frustration.

Lemon

March 17, 2010

Wondering about things

Writing, or re-writing, various papers that I find from college to maybe include with my portfolio

it is a good day to walk one’s dog

Monday 15th

March 15, 2010

Tales of Brave Ulysses

Russell Borland

“Let us sit down together and tell each other pretty stories.”

Easily the best line ever in any school readings yet. It reminds me of something I would write and maybe later regret or at the last minute delete from my document.

Who the heck is Adman and where did Adman come from?

Couldn’t she write three separate documents? One for herself, one for Mitch the forest ranger and another for Adman the Adman.

“How should our choice of presentation techniques and forms of information vary for the following: Audience segment, Task domain, Product categories, Complex versus routine tasks, Ease of learning versus ease of use, Initial versus intermediate versus advanced learning”

I don’t know. I’d like to think of myself as a problem solver or sorts and that I would figure something out as per the situation and circumstance I find myself working in.

“How do we effectively describe and present complex tasks and activities, especially when the require expertise in multiple task domains?”

I wonder about this too sometimes, and sometimes, I worry. However, if I can develop enough self-confidence and have the support of my employer or potential employer then I will work it out. If I’ve learned anything (and I question whether I have) I have learned that for every statement of fact from one source the opposite statement is found in another. Some people I have spoken to or heard from or from things I’ve read related to careers, the economy or job searching some will say “You need a specific skill or experience, or will in the future, say this in the interview, design the resume this way, be familiar with all of these computer software, etc.” Someone else will claim the exact opposite of all those statements. I don’t know what to do or what to worry about anymore.

“Are users’ problems with a program best addressed through training, having users re-engineer their work processes, redesigning certain screens, “teaching” users through wizards reconceptualizing the built-in task models, and going all the way back to the architecture and scope – or some combination of all these?”

I don’t even know what to say

I have my opinions about how I would like my experiences and my selection of readings to be within a program like this, however I don’t know that my opinion really matters. There is only so much of the work and the field I can infer and I cannot proclaim any proficiency in anything related to “the field” nor experience in which to draw conclusions. All I can rely on is my past school experiences, my gut instinct, and how I project my toolkit needs for work after graduation. I see room for much, much improvement in this program and in regards to readings I see a need for an intelligent selection of theoretical texts and practical on-the job articles.

Monday, Monday, Monday

March 15, 2010

Monday

Feel like there is a lot on my plate.
Almost feel overwhelmed.
Definitely feel distracted.

Working on the readings.

Saturday Therapy

March 6, 2010

Blogging Therapy

There is magic in writing, in creating in general, really. We’re all like little gods playing in the cosmic sandbox.

I wish I could have the opportunity to learn something new (relatable new) everyday but I don’t. I have developed an In Design project though that will hopefully teach me while providing a portfolio piece as well. It is incumbent upon me to teach myself just about everything that this program was supposedly going to. I have come to accept that and am prepared to go as far with my education as I am able to retain interest in my studies – something I long ago tuned out on. If I could I’d find something else entirely to immerse myself in as prep for working life in another industry/field whatever. I am considering putting greater effort into finding a job with the federal government – maybe something like the Dept. of State.

I can’t get my pound of flesh but blogging has proven out to be somewhat therapeutic for me. I can, when available, get something private out publicly and force me to articulate (somewhat successfully) something. Months of practice, refining my arguments, complaints – dismissing any argument/complaint that hasn’t been up to snuff or was somehow proven wrong has been thrown out – has proven me out to be right on everything, not just some things – Everything.

March 6th

March 6, 2010

Career Paths of Five Technical Communicators

Kim

“The current strained economic conditions across much of industry, especially in high technology areas, make those of us responsible for preparing future technical communicators stop and pay attention. As the job market becomes more competitive, it seems that the ethical and practical pressures to send out students who are well trained in the right skills also increase”

Hey, I didn’t write it they did. After months of refining my arguments and complaints about this school and this program in particular I know I am right. And not just sometimes with some things but I am right about Everything. EVERYTHING. How dare EMU say they’ve prepared us for life after graduation – they can’t prepare us for any given semester. We – I – am not prepared for work in this field. I have learned little to nothing, certainly nothing of any consequence. In short, I am not competitive. An internship would have come in handy by helping learn by doing. I have practiced my arguments with many different people and I know I am right – EMU hasn’t taught us anything. A complete waste of time.

“We should teach technological competencies or we should not. Some educators believe that acquiring computer skills in the classroom is as vital as acquiring writing skills, while others perceive it to be secondary to other skills such as self-management and analysis.”

Give me a big effin’ break peoples. Maturity, and skills such as critical analysis, dealing with deadlines, stress, self-management, time constraints, reading and writing competency, among others all should have been well developed by the time one enters into a graduate level course and at least by one’s senior year of undergrad. This is a big part of the foundation that a liberal arts education provides (or, in the case of EMU, ought to provide) a college education in general at least should provide this. I lost an internship opportunity — I have discerned — not due to any lack of maturity, writing skills, self-management and critical analysis skills but due to a lack of experience with certain job tasks and computer skills. Most of these computer programs I had never heard of before – they weren’t ever mentioned in school, let alone taught.

“…confirmed that students want less theory, more practical skills emphasizing writing, real-life writing experiences (assignments as well as internships), and familiarization with technology.”

Fine. If these former students are saying this than I as a current student shouldn’t feel bad for asking for it either. But I don’t even know enough to know what I know or don’t know. I don’t know what to teach or what is useful – I don’t know what questions to ask. Has anyone at the school read this article, yet? All I know is that reading this is just making me more angry. I know for a fact that Towson University’s program finds a way to mix the practical with the theory and teaches it students things. I know people come out of the classes and the program with knowledge, self-confidence and marketable skills. Why can’t EMU?

““hiring on the basis of ‘tool skills’ ignores the fact that the ability to format text is a very small part of our value as technical communicators.””

Call me crazy but have I not heard countless times from the mouths of individuals in the ‘field’ and in several readings that companies and head boss people don’t even know what a technical communicator is or does or how they can and should help out the company and such things along that line? Additionally, I think I recall that fellow technical communicators don’t even know what to make of themselves or each other. So how can Mr. hart dare say this with any seriousness? I really don’t trust our readings anymore.

And the whole learning new computer skills on one’s own is fine. Heck, I’m doing right now, but the potential employer wants you to have something tangible to offer to the company. Why hire Joe who is not proficient in any useful computer skill/program even though he is smart enough to learn and quickly, when he can hire Susie who is his equal in every way except that she already possesses the computer skills that Joe lacks? Susie will get the job, not Joe. (Assuming that Susie isn’t a crack head, et al).

All this talk of careers and I have yet to discern what career I am being educated for. Remind me again of what my career options are; what I am being trained for and how I am to market myself to potential employers; what use am I to myself or anyone else that might matter. That’s right someone has mentioned something about something that sounded like technical something whatever that is. Benninghoff can’t, or won’t, even bother to explain what technical writing is at minimum.

Okay, I’ve read through the internship section and I can’t take it anymore. Could it be this program is just some absurd Mont Python sketch? Cos, truly, from a distance this is all quite humorous. I think that with some years distance I will get the joke and laugh along with all the other homeless college graduates. I think right now I need to assess what other careers/industries I am perhaps better equipped to pursue.

Apple Core #090

February 26, 2010

Advancing A Vision of Usability

Mirel

“In this chapter, I argue that as leaders, usability specialists have to introduce a new vision of what it takes to support complex work-in-context.”

Well, yeah. Life, as in industry, is all about change and adaptation. The idea of companies of all kinds having immature, irresponsible and clueless employees at all levels is understood. Products need to be made with the user in mind that has also been established. The question for us is always going to be how to do that? Articles like this are great background but are irrelevant, ultimately without context. Every past course has been disastrous – even the good ones – due to a lack of context – it’s just busy work and I am tired of busy work. I think this class ought to make up more for the lack of education provided in past courses. Let’s review articles like this in detail and have a brief assignment, maybe a quick in-class assignment where we do a usability task. I know learning something in this school is a wild, radical idea but it could be a good thing. I think all the idiot children who attend this school would benefit greatly from an education.

“Human-computer interaction patterns capture combinations of screen objects, dialogues, window manipulations, and keystrokes that support users’ low-level interactions, for instance, combining a filtering mechanism with a list to facilitate finding items in a list (The Pattern Gallery).”

Um, well, that’s great. …Great.

Summary
Look, if your job is to do X or to have X as a set of personal and professional attributes then do it and be it. Just do your job and find ways to continually improve. I keep an open mind, I stay hungry and humble but I have also become an angry lil pissant since attending school here. We all, including myself, need to get a grip and just Do It, whatever that It is.