Case Study - Writing, Rhetoric, and Design: A Virtual Collaboration Case Study

Case Study - Writing, Rhetoric, and Design: A Virtual Collaboration Case Study

Douglas Eyman (George Mason University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-994-6.ch019
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Abstract

This chapter presents a case study of virtual collaboration that focuses on a research and production team’s approach to making choices about the most appropriate technologies to support the team’s interactions. The study highlights the importance of establishing clear, well-defined roles for collaborators as well as the importance of explicitly acknowledging the institutional context within which the work was undertaken. The chapter concludes with a series of recommendations based upon the experience of this virtual collaboration.
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Introduction

Because of the nature of the project, we needed a media-rich communication infrastructure. This chapter, therefore, frames “writing” within the context of multimedia/new media production. The design team also worked within a rhetorically derived heuristic, following a research process that is driven explicitly by our training and work as rhetoricians. This digital rhetoric approach informed both design decisions and the choices made with regard to implementing the underlying technological infrastructure of the new interface. In essence, the team both worked within and produced a collaborative writing space that existed at the intersections of rhetoric, design, and code.

As a case study of virtual collaboration, this chapter addresses the choices we made about the technologies we used to support our interactions. It highlights the importance of establishing clear, well-defined roles for collaborators. Additionally, the chapter considers the importance of explicitly acknowledging the institutional context within which the work was undertaken as both the collaborative practices of the team and the final product of the collaborative work needed to connect to the goals and expectations of the journal’s editors and readers. Finally, this chapter points to the first, fourth, and fifth principles of virtual collaborative writing that ground this book. The kinds of collaboration necessary in distance-based website design can only be accomplished in a culture that values collaboration as a primary value. To be successful, it is necessary to use tools and collaborative modes effectively in the context of ongoing and ever changing goals. Thus, creating structure for each working member of the writing team is essential.

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