English
4780

Technical Writing

Spring
2017

 

Readings

Week 1

Too Much Data Disables Your Decision Making

Comments

Most people think they need more data so they can be completely sure about their decision. Or when they are writing a report, they want to provide lots of data, so the decision maker's job will be easy because they'll ALL of the data.

Unfortunately, people don't process data well and ignore most of it.

Graphics let you provide lots of data, but you can overload the person and actually cause worse decision making.

Readings

Why too much data disables your decision making

 

Voice

 

Don't overload the reader

Comments

If you give the person too much data, they will ignore all of it and continue to belive what they always believed.

Of course, the full set of data might be important to some a document's audience, but not most of the audience. You can handle this by putting the summary in the main body (you do the thinking/analysis) and the full data set in a appendix.

 

Readings

 

Voice

 

Data-Information-Knowledge

Comments

Data and information are used rather interchangeably, but they really refer to very different things.

Readers want to recieve information, not data.

Readings

Hierarchy of data

Voice

 

 

Interpolating and extrapolating information

Comments

Part of the design choices for any information presentation is whether or not those values require interpolating and extrapolating them as part of the decision making process.

Readings

interpolating and extrapolating information

Voice

 

Missing Facet of documentation

Comments

This is a paper I presented at the 1996 SIGDOC conference, back when I was a graduate student. Yeah, I've been thinking about decison making and complex information for a long time.

Readings

Decision Making: A Missing Facet of Effective Documentation

Voice

 

Week 2

How people make decisions

Comments

A chapte that looks at an overview of how people interpret information to make decisions.

Figure names are in blue. You can ignore that. This is from a book manuscript.

Readings

Decision making

Voice

 

Complex problem solving

Comments

The information people need to deal with complex problems and their approaches are fundementally different from when the deal with simple problems.

Most of the example problems you face in school tend to be simple problems. Most of what you'll need to address in the corporate world are complex problems.

Readings

Complex Problem Solving
and Content Analysis

Voice

 

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