Generic Authors in Technical Communication
This chapter aims to develop a simple grammar-based semiotic to suggest how the best writers cultivate a genre-specific and context-conscious model of distance and involvement in the text and its preferred actions. It considers the theoretical roots of current thinking on authorial rhetoric. In the generic differences among the various kinds of technical writing lie important clues about an author’s relation to an audience. When students of technical writing are asked about the most confusing stylistic questions they face as writers, they often point to the use of I and you. The chapter shows how the simple point of grammar can become a conceptual tool to understand the conventions of authorial presence in technical writing. To apply the concept of ethos to an analysis of technical communication would suggest a type of author ethically implicated by the text and morally committed to the agenda described therein.