We began this project with the goal of inspiring change. In our continued attempts to meet this challenge, we devoted up to 2 years collecting and then helping authors develop the chapters of this volume.
The project began in April 1999 when we issued a call for abstracts for the anthology at the concurrent Annual Conference of the Association for Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) and Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Atlanta. Soon afterward, we issued the same call for abstracts on three Internet electronic mailing lists, those of ATTW, the Association of Business Communication (bizcom), and a usability testing group. Although we received many outstanding abstracts, many of them focusing on classroom projects and other relatively small-scale successes in the field, we decided early on to focus the anthology, instead, on larger scale, nontraditional ideas for moving the field forward in new directions. We also worked hard to achieve a reasonable balance between chapters written by academic and industry specialists in the field.
To move the anthology closer to our vision of what it might achieve, we decided to invite technical communication specialists from both academia and industry who we considered especially creative and innovative in their thinking to contribute new chapters. We also coordinated and hosted a June 2000 Milwaukee Symposium of 18 such specialists (see the end of this Preface for a list of these attendees) to discuss the current status and future of the field. We hoped that from this gathering would emerge several more chapters for the anthology and new insights for authors already planning chapters for the collection. As a result of all these efforts, we were successful in assembling the chapters in this volume. The Symposium efforts also led to the material included in the Appendix. There, we chart the research questions and issues that Symposium participants deem crucial for the field to investigate in order to make greater progress