Monday, May 03, 2010

Reading :: A Research Primer for Technical Communication

A Research Primer for Technical Communication: Methods, Exemplars, and Analyses
By Michael A. Hughes and George F. Hayhoe

Just a quick review today. This book is pretty slim for a research primer - 216pp, a chunk of which represent reprinted articles from Technical Communication, the journal of the STC - and is written for technical communication students and practitioners who are new to empirical research. Although the book doesn't specify what level of student, I could see my juniors and seniors mowing through the book with no difficulty.

The book is consistently clear throughout, carefully classifying different types of research goals and their foci (p.7) as well as research methods and their descriptions (p.11), then elaborating on each. For most sections, the authors include exercises, such as the exercise on p.12 that has readers match methods with descriptions of specific cases. I'm actually quite impressed with how the authors describe many concepts, such as triangulation and informed consent, lucidly yet with considerable economy.

The book is fairly elementary, probably too elementary for most graduate students in technical communication programs. But I could see it being used in undergraduate courses, perhaps even down to the sophomore level, and certainly by practitioners. If you're looking for a general research methods book at that level, take a look.

TIMN and Bobbitt's Market-State

I recently blogged a review of Phillip Bobbitt's The Shield of Achilles, an impressive discussion of how the State has changed over time and how it might change in the future. This book reminded me a lot of David Ronfeldt's TIMN framework, and I think there's a lot of overlap in terms of how we've experienced changes in organization, in logics, and in assumptions or warrants that underpin our understanding of how we interact with the State and each other.

There are, of course, differences as well. Ronfeldt recently blogged thoughts on how TIMN and Bobbitt's market-state compare. (He intends to also write on Phillip Blond’s "civic state" and Michel Bauwens’s "partner state.") As always, Ronfeldt's post is thoughtful and showcases Ronfeldt's much, much deeper understanding of the issues involved with these sorts of frameworks. If you're interested in political ideology, or if my discussions of TIMN or Bobbitt (or netwar or John Robb or Castells or the health care town halls or loose work organization or ...) have piqued your interest, I highly recommend clicking through.