Writing under the gun : a multimodal analysis of technical trouble tickets as an itext genre

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Marlow, David W.
Stahlke, Herbert
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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Based on a multimodal approach combining elements of ethnographic participant/observer methodology, rhetorical genre analysis, and corpus analysis, this study examines trouble ticket discourse as a genre of digital communication (IText), interpreting the findings through the lens of 18 months the author spent working in the environment.Trouble tickets are the basic form of documentation used in call centers. They record details of all actions and interactions in the call center environment that is the setting for this study. One section employs the Ethnography of Communication as a foundational model to provide a rich description of both text and environment. Trouble ticket text is written in a fragmentary style which internal and external audiences alike find difficult to process.The rhetorical moves analysis (Swales 1990) uses the rich description as a basis for interpreting and explaining its findings. Key findings are that trouble tickets are rhetorical, and that they seamlessly incorporate actions by the automated system into the human rhetoric. The corpus analysis builds on both the rich description and rhetorical moves analysis, finding that trouble tickets use grammatical structures differently than traditional spoken and written communication.This study concludes that trouble tickets are used simultaneously for direct and archival communication, are collaboratively concatenative in generation and that a new model is required for understanding the variation between speech, writing and IText.