Cruel Pies: The Inhumanity of Technical Illustrations

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The discussion of ethics in technical illustrations ordinarily focuses on issues of deception or distortion (that is, telling lies), creating a limited definition of visual ethics. Conventional graphic displays of human injuries and fatalities, for example, leave invisible the misery of the victims and their families, and offer what becomes, in effect, a pitiless depiction of statistical information. Such illustrations are neither objective nor ethical—not because of what they show but because of what they don’t show. Technical communicators ought to adopt a humanistic ethic of visual communication that considers both the sensitivity and efficiency of their illustrations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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