[CFP] Context Is Everything: Content Strategy in Technical Communication

The Association of Teachers of Technical Writing logo, published to: "Context Is Everything: Content Strategy in Technical Communication"

Editors: Guiseppe Getto, Jack T. Labriola, Nathan Franklin, and Sheryl Ruszkiewicz
Contact: gettog@ecu.edu, 252-367-4364

Aims of Collection

We invite chapter proposals from both scholars and practitioners of content strategy for an edited collection which the ATTW Book Series Editor, Tharon Howard, has invited us to submit for consideration for the ATTW Book Series in Technical and Professional Communication. Our collection seeks to showcase the most innovative methods, tools, and research findings regarding the creation, generation, publication, governance, circulation, and design of content in an era of pervasive communication technologies. We take as our jumping-off point the dictate of Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach (2008) that content must be both useful and usable. At the same time, we must rethink what usefulness and usability mean at a time when content is increasingly delivered across a wide variety of technologies, modalities, networks, cultures, and use cases.

In the same fashion, technical communicators are increasingly being called upon to think organization-wide when they are managing technical content. The “content silos” which frequently cause organizations to stockpile content in different departments, first identified by Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper (2012), are beginning to shift in seismic ways. Tools, such as open source architectures like DITA and content management systems like Drupal, are receiving broader acceptance and are beginning to move organizations away from the creation of isolated documents. Best practices now dictate that content be developed in structured components so that it is reusable and can be delivered across a wide variety of communication channels. This shift toward unified, organization-wide content strategies, however, brings with it a new set of challenges, specifically regarding the usability of content both within organizations and among core audiences and external stakeholders.

Such complex content situations beg questions like the following:

What uses does content foster in an era when communication technologies are increasingly pervasive, multiplicitous, and global in scope?
How must usability and usefulness be redefined, and content reshaped, in light of the current diversity of users and user experiences?
How must we rethink the concept of the user when communication technologies share content with one another as much as they share it with people?

To frame our collection, we will invite submissions along the following areas of concern:

1. Users and Content Strategy

  • How is the relationship among people and technologies changing due to increasingly networked forms of communication among a wide variety of cultural contexts?
  • What definition(s) of terms like “content,” “user,” and “usability” are most pertinent, given recent technological, social, and cultural developments? Are there stable definitions for these terms, or do we need more multiplicitous definitions?
  • How must we rethink notions such as audience awareness and virality due to the pervasiveness of social networks among many forms of communication, including within the personal, professional, cultural, and civic realms?

2. Design and Content Strategy

  • How is content being articulated differently among designers of various stripes, including those in mobile, web, enterprise, and industrial spaces?
  • Where does content strategy fit within the discipline of UX design? Are these complementary disciplines? Antagonistic? Synchronistic?
  • How is the pervasiveness of content management systems (CMSs) and information architectures across industries, user types, and technologies changing the way we think about and use content?

3. Content Strategy Methods

  • What are the core methods of content strategy? How can we assure that they are being applied rigorously, systematically, and effectively across contexts and use cases?
  • How participatory should content strategy be in an era when much content is user-generated?
  • How can we account for best practices in content development, publication, and governance when one-to-many models of communication are quickly being replaced by many-to-many models?

4. Teaching Content Strategy

  • What are the most effective strategies for introducing students of various levels of experience to best practices in content strategy?
  • Where does content strategy belong in the technical communication curriculum? Where does it belong within individual programs?
  • What would full-blown content strategy pedagogies look like? How do we prepare students and mentees for the ever-changing landscape of content development, curation, and deployment?

5. The Future of Content Strategy

  • How will emerging technologies affect the future of the content landscape? What does it mean to produce useful, usable content when modes of delivery are multiplying at an exciting, but also alarming, rate?
  • How can technical communicators assure that content developed across a wide variety of modes (textual, auditory, visual, experiential, material) remains user-centered, context-aware, and culture-sensitive?
  • What are the dangers and risks involved in pervasive forms of communication where content is delivered across a wide variety of devices in an on-demand, ad hoc manner? How can we ensure the most appropriate content is delivered to users, given the sheer multitude of content platforms, user communities, and delivery systems available?

Deadlines and Details

Please submit chapter proposals of no more than 300 words by November 30th, 2017. Proposals should be saved as .doc or .docx files and should be emailed to gettog@ecu.edu. Proposals must contain the following information to be considered:

  • Author name(s), institutional affiliation(s), and email(s)
  • A proposal of no more than 300 words (not including citations) that describes
  • The area of concern your chapter would examine (e.g., Users and Content Strategy)
  • The specific focus your chapter would take
  • How your chapter would take on a best practice, future direction, or innovation regarding the topic content strategy in technical communication
  • What readers of your chapter would take away from it
  • A concise list of relevant citations that you would use in your chapter

Full List of Deadlines

  • Proposals Due: Nov 30th
  • Notices of Acceptance: December 15th
  • Chapter Blurb of Accepted Proposals Due: January 5th
  • Full Chapter Drafts Due: March 5th

Full chapters will need to be between 6,500-8,000 words in length (or 20-30 double-spaced pages) and will need to follow a style guide for the Book Series that will be provided to accepted authors.