Project 2: Slideshare 1 - About Technical Definitions & Descriptions

04909fdda960dd0ca8d5fbe7bd7813fb?s=47 TechProf
January 23, 2019

Project 2: Slideshare 1 - About Technical Definitions & Descriptions

04909fdda960dd0ca8d5fbe7bd7813fb?s=128

TechProf

January 23, 2019
Tweet

Transcript

  1. About Technical Definitions and Technical Descriptions 1

  2. 2 Table of Contents Introduction ..........................................................................................................................................3 About this Project................................................................................................................................4-6 About

    Technical Definitions .............................................................................................................7 Contexts........................................................................................................................................8 Types ..............................................................................................................................................9-12 About Technical Descriptions..........................................................................................................13 Contexts........................................................................................................................................14 Types ..............................................................................................................................................15 Complications......................................................................................................................................22-25 Placement and Purpose...................................................................................................................26 Goal of this Project .............................................................................................................................27 Learning Objective .............................................................................................................................29
  3. Technical definitions are not the same as technical descriptions and

    both differ from specifications and instructions. All of these genres may be written for audiences with high-levels of technical/subject-matter expertise or lay audiences, those with low- levels of expertise. When writing on the job, you will frequently experience a need to bridge the gap between a high-level of expertise (what you know) and a low-level of expertise (what an audience doesn't know but needs to know). This project is aimed at giving you applied practice in how to do this. 3 INTRODUCTION
  4. For this project, your audience will have a low-level of

    technical expertise, and you will choose this audience. Your choice will be based on a need you identify that this audience has. Next, you will decide if that need can best be met by composing either an extended technical definition of a term (option 1) or a technical description of a mechanism; process; animal, plant, insect; geographical feature/place (option 2). The purpose of this slidedoc is to help you begin to make these decisions by clarifying the difference between a technical definition and a technical description. 4 About this Project
  5. Definitions help us name and categorize things in our world,

    and we learn, at an early age, how to differentiate what something is from what it is not. 5 About Definitions Tree Building Shrub Dog Road Truck A tree is not a building, shrub, dog, etc. And each of the words that are crossed out could, in turn, be defined by what that word is not. The result is an endless chain of difference, but naming and categorizing difference cannot help us to understand what a word means.
  6. Dictionaries help a bit. The Oxford English Dictionary catalogues how

    English words have been used for the past 1,000 years and continues to be updated as new words are created and usages for old ones occur. But this dictionary (and any other) can only provide a definition based on usage; it cannot define what a word means in a larger context. 6
  7. A technical definition names and categorizes a word or phrase

    by answer the questions: what is x? and explains what x means within specific contexts. 7 About Technical Definitions What does it mean? What is it?
  8. Context determines what type of definition is needed and the

    level of development required. • Sometimes the context arises from a scientific or engineering communication need (less development needed). • Sometimes the context arises from a need to bridge the gap between scientific or engineering knowledge and a lay audience's knowledge (more development needed). The next four slides explain common types of technical definitions and when to write these. 8 Contexts
  9. Write a parenthetical definition when the context only requires a

    short explanation as to what an acronym stands for or word means and to cue the audience that you will be using the word from that point on without further definition. • The required gravel equivalent (GE) for the estimated traffic loading and sub grade conditions is 575 millimeters. Write a sentence-level definition when the context requires more information about what the word means. Often a sentence-level definition is a topic sentence and uses this pattern. 9 An elephant is a large mammal with a prehensile trunk, long ivory tusks, and large ears. Types
  10. Write a paragraph-level (operational) definition for scientific readers who need

    you to assign values to terminology that cannot be quantitatively measured. 10 This study uses Blascovich and Tomaka's definition of self-esteem as an individual's sense of his or her value or worth. It also considers the extent to which a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself.
  11. Or for lay audiences who need an operational definition to

    engage in some kind of activity or operation. 11 I told you a thousand times already, there are no rules. Wait! I need an operational definition. What are the rules here?
  12. 12 Write an Extended Technical Definition when the context requires

    even more information to help an audience better understand something and/or make a decision. "Extended" just means the definition is developed beyond the sentence-level. How developed it needs to be is a function of the audience's need.
  13. A technical description almost always starts with a sentence- level

    definition of a word or phrase (i.e. what is x?) but is then narrowly focused to explain how x works or what x is like and not about what x means. 13 How does it work? What is it like? About Technical Descriptions
  14. Context will determine the level of complexity needed to describe

    something. • Sometimes the context arises from a scientific or engineering communication need (high-level of complexity needed). • At other times, the context arises from the need to bridge the gap between scientific or engineering knowledge and a lay audience's knowledge (low level of complexity needed). • The next slides explain common types of technical descriptions. 14 Contexts
  15. There are several types of technical descriptions: 1. Product Descriptions

    2. Mechanism Descriptions 3. Process Descriptions 4. Animal, Plant, Insect Descriptions 5. Geographical (or Place) Descriptions 6. Phenomenon Descriptions 15 Types
  16. Technical Descriptions of a Product describe what a product is

    like, it's features and qualities. 16
  17. Technical Descriptions of a Mechanism describe how it works and/or

    how it is operated. 17
  18. Technical Descriptions of a Process describe how it works and/or

    how it is done. 18
  19. Technical Descriptions of a an Animal, Plant, or Insect, describe

    how it looks, habitat, behavior etc. 19
  20. Technical Descriptions of a Geographical Feature or Place (natural or

    human-made) describe what the feature or place is like and/or what condition it is in. 20
  21. Technical Descriptions of a Phenomenon (natural or social) may describe

    what it is like, how it works (process), what causes it, and/or under what conditions it occurs. 21
  22. Because they often appear in arguments, technical definitions and technical

    descriptions can be complicated by: • social, • political, • economic, • cultural contexts and by • moral and ethical concerns. 22 Complications
  23. Example: Ductal Carcinoma In SITU (DCIS) 23 The definition of

    DCIS is a matter of debate within the medical community. The debate turns, in part, on whether this cell abnormality matches the accepted standard definitions of what is or isn't cancer.
  24. Example: Ductal Carcinoma In SITU (DCIS) 24 A section of

    this article in Oncology Times is an example of a technical definition that is extended using an analogy.
  25. Example: Trophic Cascade Similarly, debates about trophic cascade turn on

    various ways subject matter experts define this phenomenon. And those definitions stem from technical descriptions of how a trophic cascade works. 25
  26. These examples reveal how technical definitions and technical descriptions are

    rarely independent pieces of communication. Instead they are part of other communication products. Where they appear (placement) may be in print or multimedia formats and their purposes are often in-service to persuasive arguments such as the previous examples or in attempts to persuade consumers to purchase a product. When writing the technical documentation (your planning choices) for this project, you will be asked to consider placement, but keep in mind you will be writing to meet the needs of a lay audience, so the placement cannot be for a website aimed at specialized audiences. 26 Placement and Purpose
  27. Using descriptive language is not what separates a definition from

    a description. Both use descriptive language. The difference rests with the questions each answers and the context. • Technical definitions answer the questions: what is x? and what does it mean? (wider context) • Technical descriptions answer the questions: what is it like? how does it work? etc.(narrow context) 27 Descriptive Language
  28. No matter which option you choose, your goal will be

    to help your audience make a decision and/or gain a better understanding of how something affects them. 28 I need to understand how this affects me. I need to make a decision. Goal
  29. One of the learning objectives in this project is to

    give you applied practice in composing technical documentation. 29 Technical documentation is a planning genre. On the job, it is written to plan how a project will be done, including making important decisions about target audience, need, and what communication product will best meet this need. Learning Objective