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Salvo, Michael J. “Rhetorical Action in Professional Space: Information Architecture as Critical Practice” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 18 No. 1 January 2004 39-66.
• S. begins by noting that by measuring technical communicators in terms of their functional abilities we diminish their importance as rhetoricians, as “information architects who practice a rhetorical craft necessary to build solutions that address the contextual needs of users” (39).
• Salvo takes descriptive research to task, noting that “no matter how critically oriented, [descriptive research is a necessary but insufficient strategy for developing critical action, or praxis, in professional and technical communication” (40). This is, in large part, due to the linearity of the narrative in descriptive research that leaves little room for improvisation/change.
• Connection between rhetoric and design: (from Kaufer/Butler 1996) “The rhetor is an architect of the social world” (74). As S. notes, “In the process of design, the rhetor suggests new social worlds and creates new social relationships” (40).
• How does a technical rhetor interact with technical discourse? 1) they create the context for technological design, thereby facilitating communication between producers/consumers; 2) they release technologies into culture, allowing for communication concerning the affect of said technologies.
• Key Definition: “Information architecture, as a user-centered rhetorical art of design, relies on the participation of users, in effect opening an opportunity to build with the people who will be using the technologies” (41). In other words, information architects function as the “interface” between analysis and action . . . and design accordingly.
• The final takeaway of this article: S. will discuss how integrating both social-scientific and humanistic methods for could productively inform the practice of information architecture as an art of design and as a means for enacting the agency of the technical rhetor (42).
• Two definitions of information architecture: 1) SIG-IA definition: the art, science and business of organizing information so that it makes sense to people who use it . . . . Information Architects are members of the team who choreograph the complex relationships among all the elements that make up an information space; 2) DOE-IAP: a conceptual framework that links the departmental and programmatic missions, goals and objects and provides a mapping of the current and future DOE business information required to support them (48).
• S. notes that the role of the information architect is to help create “Information systems [that when] built around recognizing individual users’ contingent, contextual and changing needs, abilities and desires reorient technological design, recentering technology on the needs of the human user rather than on the abilities of the technology itself or the technological designer” (59).
• S. notes that “I hope that as software design becomes more user centered, critical engagement with technocultural issues will become part of the core competencies of technical communication” (60).
• S. notes that, “After technology-centered design is complete, human participation is limited to resisting, rejecting, or requesting a change in the newly designed technology. User-centered design, however, invites feedback and participation. And the concept of rhetoric as an art of design includes methods for interpreting and applying user feedback” (63).

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