Jamie, can you say more about epistemic writing in the workplace? I'm
having a hard time imagining what that might be like, even in research,
high-tech, or knowledge-intensive workplaces.
The closest I can come is the design specs that are currently circulating
around the group of people working on the next-generation courseware here
at UM . . . the specs do shape what the designers and developers do, but
they are also an attempt to map out how this system (which is not yet
built) will work *in the future* . . . so they're subject to constant
"vision and revision" as people run into technical snags that alter what
can be done, or how it can be done. In that sense, the specs are both
predictive and descriptive, both a blueprint and a guess.
But that's clearly not the same kind of writing-to-know that occurs in
schools . . .
--On Wednesday, May 22, 2002 9:35 AM -0400 Jamie MacKinnon
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> A note from a "non-academic" workplace:
> While I agree with the thrust of your comments, Anthony, I'd quibble with
> the notion that, in general terms, student writing "is epistemic
> (primarily to do with knowledge-making), and largely concerned with
> individual growth (writing to learn, writing to know), whereas [workplace
> writing] is instrumental (oriented to action) . . ."
> I reckon that in most research, high-tech, and / or knowledge-intensive
> businesses, a lot of writing is epistemic (*as well as* "instrumental")
> in nature. I would also note a significant instrumental / transactional
> aspect to most student writing - - for many students much of the time,
> the sole purpose in writing is the obtaining of a satisfactory mark (and
> from the prof's point of view, the transaction is: "You give me writing;
> I give you grade").
> To Roger, I say that the "construction of knowledge" mentioned in the
> Newman book needs to be carefully considered. Professors' expectations
> (often tacit, sometimes explicit) at the undergrad level are usually for
> the re-creation or reiteration of existing knowledge.
> Deeply epistemic writing - - writing that advances knowledge by posing
> new problems, by posing old problems in newly fruitful ways, and by
> proposing innovative responses to problems, takes place (in felicitous
> moments) in grad schools as well as the workplace.
> All this to say, I'm leery of a presumed epistemic / instrumental
> dichotomy, and of conflating workplace / school with "authentic" /
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