Reading Log–Article 16

  1. Spinuzzi, “Lost in Translation”

The article examines the practices behind research techniques and the pitfalls that can come with a one-size-fit all approach to research. He does this by examining prototyping techniques involving mock-ups. Those allowed for a common technique that allowed workers and the academic community to collaborate. He then spent the bulk of his article examining four different techniques; UTOPIAn mock-ups, co- operative prototyping, PICTIVE, and contextual design’s prototyping component. Those techniques have been implemented in different socioeconomic environments. He argues that it has to be implemented differently in order to gain wider currency, and that sacrificing some coherency is acceptable in reaching that goal. Ultimately, working with the building blocks of translating for a broader audience helps researchers test their own agency. He also looks at the four moments of translation: Problemization (what needs to be accomplished or negotiated), interessment (what stakeholders are involved in negotiation), enrollment (how they negotiate), and mobilization (how they can be persuaded). The article concludes by noting that translation itself is democratic, adaptable to a specific environment rather than ruled by methodologies. We as technical communicators have always had a tendency to translate techniques for the purpose of forging new settlements.

I enjoyed Spinuzzi’s take on the fluidity of research development, and saw from his examples that it does indeed hold true. Translation is a very useful technique for gaining a wider understanding of a concept, breaking it down, as we would if it were shifting from one language to another (in some ways it is). Doing it for the purposes of persuasion is even more efficient, and as technical communicators having the power to translate in a favorable way is a tremendous advantage to your own cause. I especially liked Spinuzzi’s discussion of experiments in the conclusion, as they are something I have always seen as being very rigid, but in fact have more flexibility than previously realized. When implemented properly, translation can be very helpful for all levels of prototypers, and produce a coherent and successful outcome.


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