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Rethinking Our Use of Humanistic Aspects: Effects of Technical Information Beyond the Intended Audience

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While scholars and practitioners agree that human conditions provide the social framework from which technical information is created, our profession lacks agreed-upon practices for emphasizing humanistic aspects in our work. On the one hand, humanistic aspects can foreground the people involved in technical information and emphasize the social “subject” and the scientific “object” in knowledge-making. On the other hand, humanistic aspects can send unintended messages—oftentimes generating negative perceptions of technical information. This article furthers our understanding of how we use humanistic aspects in technical communication.

After discussing the positive effects of using humanistic aspects in fatalgrams (mining industry accident reports), this article presents cases in which humanistic aspects generated negative perceptions of knowledge and which support a rationale for rethinking our uses of humanistic aspects in technical information. Last, this article offers a framework, based on an ethic of care, to guide decisions about knowledge-making with regard to human relationships.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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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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