Document Analysis Part One

Add the discoveries you make as you analyze the field guides for the kinds of rhetorical, domain, and content problems you see them solving. ++ You can be speculative and respond to your classmates discoveries. Below is an example. Of how you can post it.

Robert Danberg
A rhetorical problem La technique has to solve has is to give someone a way to follow instructions that experience cooks know by heart. The photographs and text in "La Technique" combine to guide its users through the steps of a process. The text uses declarative sentences that support the photographs. The text is brief and numbered. The pictures emphasize "how to get things done." They focus on hands, equipment, materials. However, though the approach is "basic," the assumption must be that the professional cook would use this.

Joe Strummer
I noticed the same things about La Technique but it seems like the language and techniques are basic enough to be followed by someone who cooks a lot at home. This combination of pictures and words seems common. I see it in the birding guides,where someone needs to learn the features of the birds to recognize them. The birding guides have some technical language, but it's not the content knowledge of a scientist who studies birds. It's knowledge translated for the serious birder and focuses on what birder's need to know: for instance, migration patterns or wing shapes.


To: Robert P Danberg
From: Darren Ng
Date: 05/26/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part One

The Bird Identification article had a well-written introduction with every little detail that an introduction should consist. The language used was direct and simple which made the guide very easy to read as the article was directed for an inexperienced birder. The author conveys this in the introduction when he stated his intentions, “to promote general understanding of the challenges of identification and how our impressions of birds are shaped by the environment and the bird’s behavior”.

However as I read on the intentions of the guide and the “Scene of Use” became unclear. The author mentioned that experienced and inexperienced users of the guide could use the guide at home or in the field. Basically the guide was directed to all birders. Although it was meant for all birders, the author constantly addressed the inexperienced birders after the introduction. It makes me question whom the author actually wanted to address. Maybe his target audience was too large. If it was directed at inexperienced users, the author does not describe some of the field vocabulary, which was also misleading; and was a domain problem. Other than this, I thought the use of pictures and description of the picture coincided with each other very well. Especially when it comes to bird identification, I thought pictures work particularly well. The piece could have been better if real images were produced because referencing to the guide could be easier with a touch of reality.

The better field guide, I thought, was the Non-runner’s Marathon Trainer field guide. It was an extremely direct piece and had an introduction that I thought couldn’t have been better. The author addresses the audience and refers to every section on the guide. The author builds a direct relationship with the reader as he repeatedly mentions, “you”. The author made the article easy to refer to and matches his explanations with a chart that was effective in the message he wanted to convey. The message was basically that non-runners could finish marathons if you read his guide. The language he used was descriptive and motivating. After reading the article, the reader would be put on the right mindset to finish a marathon. The guide was directed for a persons’ leisure outside of the workplace with descriptions laid out in steps for a non-runner to follow (who wants to pick running up). Overall, I thought this was the best one I read. No domain or content problems.

Feel free to let me know what you think!

Darren Ng

To: Robert P Danberg
From: Yunmi Hong
Date: 05/27/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part One

Reading a piece of writing for leisure and reading a piece of writing for the various analysis of writing styles are two complete different things. At first, when I read the articles with no direction and a casual general perception, I was not able to determine or specify the writing techniques the author used to portray his/her thoughts. Here, I will explicitly go into detail and dissect an article called “Understanding Feathers” written by Jim Brandenburg.

In this article, Jim gives us an introduction filled with background about the topic, so that the average reader has general knowledge about the subject written in generally accessible language made so that anyone with any background of major can understand. The language isn’t hard to grasp because difficult vocabulary is defined and explained. For example, in the section written about types of feathers, paragraph three; it explains what a flight feather is before going into detail about it. A different type of feather is fully explained in this section and a picture of that specific feather, which makes the material easier to understand, accompanies each paragraph. Rhetorically, Jim used visual aid as his advantage to the fullest extent to better the understanding for his audience.

Jim’s domain and content function arguments in this article overlap. It explains to the audience that feathers on a bird are not solely for the purpose of insulation but much more than that. In the article, it continues to explain that the different shapes of the birds depend on the feathers. Those feathers play a bigger role than just insulation. Readers understand the elements that represent domain knowledge in this article because of the way this article is written and lead. Jim starts with the introduction of general knowledge and the different types of feathers to what scientists think and predicted, and leads eventually to the conclusion that feathers have a much bigger role and purpose than what it was predicted.

Jim uses a combination of variables that coincide with one another to producing a field guide on understanding feathers very well. He wrote this article in the kind of language that felt more like a conversation rather than a lecture. In short, it wasn’t boring. There was visual aid on almost every page to fulfill the imagination and understanding. The article was split into different short sections, so that the reader wouldn’t get lost with all the information, and above all, reading the article, it gives the feel that the author definitely knows what he is talking about. Because the author was very knowledgeable about the topic and to the point about what he wanted to say, understanding the material wasn’t confusing, but rather very direct and simple.

Another good example of a field guide was “The Basics”. More simple than “Understanding Feathers”, it is broken down into simple steps aided with pictures that give profound understanding without any confusion. Assumed that someone who needs the specific “basic” would read this, the reader would not get confused because of its simple language and explanation.

All the articles had their own way to explaining their ideas of field guide and was very useful into helping me get a better idea of my own.

Please let me know if there are any comments.

To: Robert P Danberg
From: William Martin
Date: 05/27/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part One

I absolutely agree with both Darren's assesment of the different field guides, as well as Yunmi's. It seems as if we are all drawing similar conclusions about the texts we read. Like Yunmi, I felt that "The Core Tools: Choppers and Bifaces" was a very dry read. Although I feel that I am in no place to criticize a professional and published writer, I have to point out that there really was no introduction to the article. You really have to get well into the article before you realize what it is you're reading. I believe that one of the most important aspect of any piece of literature is to keep your audience interested. That goes for field guides, instruction manuals, novels, newspapers, etc. To add to this point, the purpose of the introduction is to establish that level of interest in the audience right from the beginning. This particular one just did not do that for me.

I thought the Bird Guide was a well written article. I feel that you can really learn a lot from its structure. It had a very clear introduction which really set the table for the information that was to follow. The entire guide had a very good structure and nice flow to it. It was very informative and easy to follow. I particularly liked Chapter 2. Finding Birds. I found the field skills listed at the beginning of this section very interesting.

The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer was by far my favorite. This may be a very biased oppinion due to do with the fact that the subject itself is much more appealing to me than the others, but I thought it was very well written and even makes me want to try to do it. Going back to the introduction, the first two sentences had me hooked. (I know the purpose of this assignment was not to criticize the introductions of each article but for some reason I seem to be very much drawn into them) This guide was a step by step instruction on how to achieve the intended task. The language was very simple and easy to read. Like I said, after reading it I am kinda tempted to try to train for a marathon (maybe not 26.2 miles but maybe modifying it a little) Im planning on holding onto to this guide to see if I can follow the training program.

Robert's response and questions to answer

All of these focused on important issues. In each of the responses, you identified important issues. They include how the guide "works" (as a step by step manual, for instance, or for birders in the field), on the relationship between writer and audience (using the pronoun "you" to establish a relationship or choosing the right language.), the importance of the structure of the document so it can be easily followed, and the relationship between the audience, the language, and the function of the text (the general unhappiness with the "core tools" piece.

Think of yourselves as a team now at work to extend the issues you've raised. Return to the field guides and look at them more closely. You might keep this question in mind:

How does the design of the text show the relationship between its intended function (what it means to do for its reader) and the information it has to communicate?

I'd like to ask you to set aside your taste in the texts. Make observations, rather than judgments. For example, the core tools text assumes a very specialized audience. All the texts do, in fact. Does the core tools text have the same purpose as the non-runners marathon manual? Can you see someone with the core tools text out in the back yard flintknapping to make a tool of their own? Can you seem someone taking the marathon manual to the place where she trains to review what she needs to do and leaving it in the car to go and get the running done?

Put yourself in the place of the audience. As the publisher of your field guide, I need you to imagine how things work well, even if if the subject doesn't interest you. The subject that I want you to be interested in is the subject of designing an excellent field guide to an issue— sometimes you have to take something else apart if you want to find out how it works. Pay special attention to vocabulary, relationship to audience, and relationship between image and text.

To: Robert Danberg, Professor
From: Alyssa O’Toole, Student
Date: 06/03/10
Subject: Document Analysis Part One

I found each field guide to be comprised of different rhetorical, domain, and content elements. In the introduction to the Non-runner’s Marathon Trainer field guide, an explicit purpose was stated within the first sentence of the document. I found this to be helpful, especially when distinguishing the chosen audience. In this case it was the inexperienced runner and in mostly every paragraph this audience was referenced. Although it was written about the specific objective of completing a marathon, the vocabulary and overall tone of the document was conversational and easy to understand. This was appropriate for a piece of this type; it made it personable and motivational.

At times, if a document is describing one objective in depth, there can be issues with the way information is conveyed to the audience. For example, a document may explore a topic in too much depth and use inappropriate vocabulary or specificity for a given audience. I found this to be true of the document outlining how to capture reptiles and amphibians. It was extremely jargon-lade (“Noosing,” “Triangulation” and “Tracking” as three examples) and overly specific giving me the indication that the intended audience is experienced in the field. Yet, it was prefaced with “..success in making captures will be greatly increased if a few standard techniques are used.” Standard techniques are usually ones that are widely known and easy to execute; beneath the advanced capturer. Thus, I found this to be an inconsistency of how the information was conveyed to its audience.

Other rhetorical issues existed in the way in which images were used in the guides and how they corresponded with the text. Again, one of the most effective and basic visual aids was used in the Non-runner’s Marathon Trainer field guide. The week-by-week schedule and day-by-day breakdown of what the training would entail, was appropriately conveyed by the table. It corresponded directly with the text and mimicked the degree of detail that the article went into. Different from the runner’s manual but also an appropriate example was the section in the bird guide entitled “Understanding Feathers.” I found the images in this document to relate well with the text because they weren’t overused or underused and effectively illustrated what was being described in the document. If you reference the article, you will see that as different sections are discussed new images are used, giving the reader a clearer understanding of the concepts being covered.

Before exploring field guides for this course, I had my own preconception of what the field guide was. I believed they were similar to manuals or “how to’s” for any problem or topic you could think of. The guide that most closely represented this belief was “The Basics.” This document covered a variety of related topics (in this case it was it was techniques in the kitchen) in an easy-to-understand, how-to form. At the beginning of the document there is a table of contents, which serves as a helpful breakdown of what topics one may expect to find. Each topic was then broken down into numerical steps but prefaced with a brief synopsis of why that topic was important or necessary to include in the article. Images were most effective in “The Basics” because they showed either the process or the end result (or both) of what was being discussed. I found this to be most like a manual because its so easy and convenient to refer to.

Generally, the purpose a field guide is to serve will have a tremendous bearing on the various rhetorical, domain and content elements used. I noticed that when there is an appropriate balance of images and text, and the document is written or formatted in a way that is easy to decipher, it is something that the given audience can take with them and use during their experiences (such as a manual). Contrarily, if a document is packed with specialized vocabulary and is dense with ideas, it may serve more as a research tool or something to study before the occasion.

Add a new round of thinking here.

Darren Ng: I thought that the Bird Guide would be something a person would take around to make their own observations or tools. I feel like it is something an interested person (beginner) would take to the field to do their own experimenting on. On the other hand the Non-runner's Marathon Guide, was set up so that you read it once and the information would be somewhat imprinted in your memory because of how personal the text is. The table of what you should do in order to accomplish a marathon was the main connection between the reader and the guide. The Core Tools Guide's domain was for a more experienced tool maker. The language was obviously different and the author tried to communicate to the reader in a different manner as opposed to the Bird and Non-marathon runner's manual. Ultimately, this shows the relationship between the texts' intended function and information it has to communicate. At a more professional level, vocabulary is almost always different as texts start to use more specific vocabulary related to the field in order to attract the attention of the intended audience.

Lena Hong
Out of all the other Field guides that were presented, I believe that “From, Tools of the Old and New stone Age” III The Core Tools: Choppers and Bifaces by: Jacques Bordaz displayed the better field guide. There are a couple of things I noticed in this field guide that had caught my eye when it came to looking at the different kinds of rhetorical, domain, and content:

- The way it was laid out was neat and in perfect order.
- Images are clear
- The images that are provided show both old and new stone ages.
- He was able to explain himself through only 12 pages.

- Very clear and easy to read
- Specific with the content
- Chosen images made the content very easy to understand.
- Liked that the publisher gave different examples and both sides of the item, so the the readers had a better understanding.

Andrew Williamson: I found that the bird guide was generally accessible, meant for an up and coming bird watcher that is looking for a basics to intermediate level. The Pictures it uses are not meant to aid but are more for decoration. I found that it was really meant for reading at home, and looking at before you go bird watching. Domain-ease, it is good at explaining what should be done when going bird-watching.

I thought that the Non-Marathon runner's was not much of a field guide. It generally accessible, had a graph and is meant to be read at home while training. It is explains concepts very well, but doesn't seem like something that one would use to refer to and would be, like Darren said, a one time read.

Janette Wambere

I have not found myself in situations where I need to analyze text very often in my field of study. Therefore this assignment was a bit different for me. The authors of all the field guides use language as a tool to bring out different meaning or to set up different situations in relation to what they are writing about.

The field guide on The Basics from Jaques Pepin’s complete techniques stood out for me in a rather odd way. Mostly because of the content since while all the other field guides basically have information which is generally considered necessary, like for example you would need to read the first field guide to get an idea of bird watching, you cannot just go outside and start. In the case of The Basics, everything is exactly that, basic. From holding a knife to using one, these are things that even a ten year old can do. So maybe a rhetoric question would be why write about what is basic? Maybe these ‘basics’ are not so basic?

Despite the fact that very few people think that they need to learn how exactly to hold a knife and how to use it, this field guide explains in a step by step process all that one needs to know. The words used by the author are mostly easy to understand, so even if the audience was intended for professional chefs, it could still be used by the stay at home mom.

Everything is explained clearly in a step by step process. So that you can just pick it up in the kitchen and do it. You don’t have to sit down to read and understand anything.

The text is accompanied by images which make it even clearer for the reader to understand what it is they are supposed to do.
I am inclined to think that the intended audience is a professional chef or someone in that line. Knowing how to hold a knife is not really something any ordinary person would want to read about. Nonetheless this field guide is useful to anyone who is interested in gaining the information it offers.

Lena Hong Responds to Janette Wambere:

I agree with Wambere when she says that Jacques Pepin, “explained clearly in a step by step process. So that you can just pick it up in the kitchen and do it. You don’t have to sit down to read and understand anything.” This is a characteristic that I would like to see in a good field guide. I am a person with no patience or time, so for me to be able to read it step by step without having to read the whole field guide is pretty amazing. It is like reading a book and being able to read the first chapter of the book and the last chapter; then be able to know the whole story.

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