Robust Audience Analysis Methods
Clay Spinuzzi is a professor of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies how people organize, communicate, collaborate, and innovate at work. Spinuzzi has conducted multiple workplace studies, resulting in several articles and four books: Tracing Genres through Organizations (MIT Press, 2003); Network (Cambridge University Press, 2008); Topsight 2.0 (Urso Press, 2018); and All Edge (University of Chicago Press, 2015). He blogs at spinuzzi.blogspot.com.
In this episode of Room 42, we discuss how to best understand how people communicate, coordinate, and collaborate at work. For the last 25 years, Clay Spinuzzi has been conducting qualitative investigations into how people work. Using a qualitative case study approach based in sociocultural theory, Spinuzzi has studied the work of software developers, traffic safety workers, telecommunications workers, freelancers, SEO specialists, and early-stage technology entrepreneurs.
Spinuzzi has conducted these investigations using an approach called topsight, which involves collecting qualitative data (observations, interviews, documents and other artifacts), then modeling relationships among them. The result is a robust audience analysis in which investigators better understand the people, tools, and objectives of a given organization as well as places where these people, tools, and objectives conflict or just don't match. This approach is the topic of his book Topsight 2.0, an easy-to-use guide for practitioners and students who want to understand information flow in organizations. In this episode of Room 42, we'll discuss Spinuzzi's research approach, drawing examples from his many studies.
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