Why is this class suggested to be so difficult? Why do UNT advisors recommend not taking INFO 5200 in addition to other classes?
In the semester I took this course, INFO 520, Information Organization, I decided that although it would make further my graduation date, it was worth my mental health with two young kids and my teaching job to just take this class.
Read directions and then check your work against them
If you are not proficient in technical writing, you will fail or get better at it
Turning in your system at the end of the semester is the sweetest feeling
Lesson 1- I remember feeling very good about my first submission where we were instructed to outline the “Collection and Information Objects,” the “Users’ demographics and knowledge” and predict “User’s problems and questions.” I appreciated many aspects of our professor, especially the weekly chats in which he answers questions as long as there are questions. Secondly, in creating this system for this collection, I thought it was incredibly beneficial for the student to choose what their collection wanted to be. In this way, this painstaking process of creating this system has a powerful purpose. In my case, I was creating a collection of diverse books. This allowed me to explore books with diverse characters and come up with what constitutes diverse. In the end, my ten objects included books with LGBTQIA+, Latinx, Native, African American, and immigrant characters as well as characters suffering with mental illness and addiction.
And then I got my first “grade” back. My work was unable to be graded because I did not follow the format given. I submitted it again. It was again returned because my format did not meet the format requirements. I remember screaming and crying. When I calmed myself, I looked again at the format and realized, no, I had not in fact followed the format. Read directions and check your work.
Lesson 2 – As an undergraduate, I once started a Shapespeare essay with “In addition.” I was a horrible writer and only received an A with any writing that I did when it was creative writing. I remember my professor of music something compared my writing to Camus or Satre. Writing like Camus does not help when you are creating a 40 page document of an information system. Thankfully, my first few semesters of my master’s had helped me tame down my writing and write logically and coherently with no sentences starting with “In addition.”
The key to writing technically is being succinct and less is more. At one point, Professor Enoch, answering a question, said that we were welcome to copy phrases and apply them throughout. For example, in my forty page IOP, I wrote “this is because” a total of forty seven times. I use the term “information object” fifty nine times. I use the phrase “is required” twenty times. My favorite fiction writers would never write like that. Chimamda Adichie would never have used such redundancy in Half of a Yellow Sun in describing the horrors of the Biafran War in Nigeria. Gabriel Garcia Marquez would never have used such phrases to demonstrate unrequited love in Love in the Time of Cholera. No, because this is technical writing. I really did improve in this writing style although it was taxing. At one point, I noticed my thinking face during this writing process, froze my facial expression and took a selfie. Technical writing is not my best look but I made it work.
Lesson 3 – In the end, this mega assignment and journey was a huge success. I cried twice and according to my husband, once said in my sleep that I was quitting my master’s. But I did it and the experience that I had will serve me in understanding my future users (students), tagging, thesauri and most importantly (in my opinion), technical writing. I can be an artist through and through, but whether I am writing a grant proposal or demonstrating the value and worth of the library using statistics and data to my administrator, my writing will need to be technical, succinct and free from verbosity.
Final draft of my IOP
Image by Слава Вольгин from Pixabay