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Bachelor – Mediedesign NTNU Gjøvik

Min bachelor i mediedesign ved NTNU Gjøvik.

BOOK REVIEWS Brasher,

BOOK REVIEWS Brasher, Stephen H. Book Review: Culture, Communication, and Cyberspace Culture, Communication, and Cyberspace. Rethinking Technical Communication for International Environments, edited by Kirk St.Amant and Fillipp Sapienza, Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, 2011 Introduction In the recent anthology, Culture, Communication and Cyberspace: Rethinking Technological Communication for International Environments, some of the most contemporary writing in the field of technical communication has been collected on the subject of electronically mediated intercultural communication. As Kirk St.Amant rightly notes in his introduction, «It was not until the global diffusion of online media that a significant number of individuals could interact on a truly international level« (p.1), and with that diffusion technical communication became more than the exclusive province of an elite, travelling business class or the engineer set, but a fundamental fact of any professional existence, especially now in the 21 st century. The 10 essays that comprise this anthology thoughtfully attempt to meet some of these challenges by addressing the collision between cultural factors and online media (p. 5). The book is divided into three distinct, useful sections: the first concerns theoretical approaches to technical communication in cyberspace; the next with online interaction between cultures; and the final addresses related to cross-cultural collaboratons that occur in the specific learning environments. I. Theoretical approaches to technical communication in cyberspace This first section of Culture, Communication and Cyberspace consists of four articles that specifically address key theoretical issues surrounding the development and distribution of online content in international contexts, as well as an array of complex issues related to usability and intellectual property law in cyberspace. R. Peter Hunsinger considers how to use global contexts to localize online content for international audiences, arguing that Culture tends to become a guiding term for online localization efforts when it serves to define a target audience and name the audience’s salient perspe- 27 30 MARLENE ANGELICA SJONSTI-BJØRNSEN BACHELOR MEDIEDESIGN NTNU I GJØVIK

28 Journal of Technical Writing and Communication Vol. 45 No. 1 2015 ctives and practices, in other words, when the target audience’s culture is the primary characteristic that web authors and designers rely on to localize content. (p. 14). Hunsinger contends that technical communicators and web developers need to be careful about using a monolithic idea of culture as their orienting principle in developing online content for specific local communities. Culture is a concept that is both unreliable and unstable in online environments, and so Hunsinger further insists that «cultural concerns must be contextualized as a specific element among the contexts of the globalizing world» (p. 19), hence cultural elements must be considered along with «non-cultural contexts,» such as the legal, the economic, and the technological. In chapter two, Clinton Lanier emphasizes how to make the user the localization expert in customizing online content for global environments. Lanier begins by providing an overview of the research in this area and then moves into his discussion of «user-customizable» online contentthe term user customizable denoting «the ability of a web site to be changed or modified by the site’s users rather than by the designers» (p. 45). Lanier contends that shifting control from the technical communicator to the user will help to mitigate stereotypical representations and generalizations that might potentially be made about a given set of people in a particular culture. An important aspect of Lanier’s argument is his discussion of xml and server side scripting, which he integrates into a discussion of how specific cultural values influence rhetorical strategies (p. 51). xml rather that html empowers the user to determine how the elements of content are displayed on a web page through both link personalization and content personalization (such as that found on My Yahoo! or My Excite!). Lanier contends that technical communicators must begin to familiarize themselves both with how information is constructed rhetorically for different audiences, by learning how to design culturally appropriate user interfaces (pp. 58-59). In chapter 3, Matthew McCool’s essay concerns how to optimize international information systems, arguing that developers need to be less concerned about currency, translation, and time, and more informed about their target audience. For such optimization to occur, McCool contends that an «intercultural theory of mind« must be developed and that such a theory is important because «international information systems is based on the assumption that culture informs language and linguistic classification» (p. 64). Thus, McCool Brasher, Stephen H. Book Review: Culture, Communication, and Cyberspace asserts a threepronged approach that involves: • computational theory of mind; • culture; and • optimizing international information systems. He argues that developing an intercultural theory of mind along these lines will allow technical communicators and systems designers to more effectively meet the communication demands of their respective international and intercultural target audience(s). In chapter 4, Martine Courant Rife addresses the important issue of rhetoric and international intellectual property (IP) law in cyberspace, arguing that «cyberspace challenges our traditional understanding of geographically-based place and ties to geographically-based law» (p. 79). In her argument, Rife considers several legal cases, international definitions of what constitutes «originality,» and a set of pertinent issues concerning geographical indicators, to conclude that technical communicators should develop some expertise in international intellectual property law, «using rhetoric to do so» (p. 99), thus enabling technical communicators to add strategic value to their respective organizations. II. Online interactions between cultures The second section of the book consists of three essays that move the focus from the theoretical, to the more directly practical and rhetorical. Each of the authors in this portion of the book provides a series of case studies that demonstrate how various socio-cultural factors affect both online interaction and communication strategies. Daniel Ding begins this section with one of the most interesting of the essays in this anthology. Here he considers the influence of traditional Chinese agrarian cultural influence on modern Chinese cyberspace communication. He pays particular attention to the Confucian concept of naming as a way of uncovering patterns in Chinese web design, particularly with respect to displays of verbal information. Ding provides a comparative analysis of the visa application process as presented respectively on China’s Foreign Ministry website (cfm) and the u.s. Department of State (usds) website, analyzing the differing rhetorical means through which each site seeks to achieve its objective for the user. Carol M. Barnum, in chapter 6, is concerned with how cultural factors affect East/West online communication. She offers rhetorical analysis of the communication differences that are obtained bet- 29 THE JOURNAL OF TECHNICAL WRITING AND COMMUNICATION TIDSSKRIFT 31

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