Justin Lewis
Journal of Business and Technical Communication | under consideration, January 2017
Publication year: 2017

Following Andersen and others (Salvo 2004; Gu & Pullman 2008; Hart-Davidson 2009; Salvo & Rosinski 2009), this project addresses the call for technical communicators to participate in the design of information architectures and content management frameworks. Working in the area of Enterprise Data Architecture (EDA), I highlight how data models at the conceptual-semantic stage structure most database-driven applications. I begin by reviewing scholarship on databases and database architectures (DA) in Writing Studies to identify gaps in our current understanding of the ways that databases structure digital experiences. Next, emphasizing the rhetorical nature of concept data model development, I investigate the current state of concept data modeling before proposing an alternative methodology for developing semantic models. This methodology uses distant viewing (Moretti 2005; Mueller 2012; 2015) and is rooted in Rhetorical Genre Studies and computational linguistic analyses.  Such an approach assumes that texts function as objects that provide a documentary peek into the reality of organizations. By identifying a textual corpus rooted in rhetorical genres and then processing that corpus using computational functions, I hope to describe an alternative methodology suited to the rhetorical and linguistic training of technical communicators.  Such an approach is an amendment, not a replacement, for current data modeling practices and still requires verification of subject matter experts (SMEs); however, by emphasizing the rhetorically grounded, language-mediated nature of conceptual data models, this methodology provides technical communicators the opportunity to use their rhetorical skills and disciplinary training to participate in content management framework development.