To further the general understanding and use of metis, this digital artifact borrows from Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin the term remediation where, "new media are doing exactly what their predecessors have done: presenting themselves as refashioned and improved versions of other media [citation]," to illustrate different usages of metis in the workplace. Specifically by remediating a published text my aim is to breathe life into characters and scenarios that describe metis and its implications in everyday life. The goal in this effort is to provide additional understanding and to increase access of this information for a larger demographic.
"Interrupting Gender as Usual: Metis Goes to Work" written by Ann Brady in 2003 pulled important information about Western society, culture, and the corporate landscape to the readership of Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Concepts from this piece, including writing as a persuasive communication, workplace ethos, and gender equality in jobs are important topics in today since underrepresented groups, and in this case women, are still receiving only .77 for each dollar that a man earns for the same work (source: Time 2010).
With this mindset, I present the original work of Brady (reproduced with permission) to provide added context for the case studies.
Problem Solving Addressed, Metis Invoked.
After Billie and Virginia completed their Master's degrees in professional communication, they returned to work, Billie at a toxicology group and Virginia at a large, privately owned company. In one of the first interviews that I conducted with them at this transitional period, the two described the hierarchic and gendered nature of their profession. They reported that more companies are coming to see that professional writers can contribute in significant ways to the design and production of technical products, but many still insist that the professional writer's work is an editing add-on after the "real" labor of the project has been completed.
What is important about this distinction is that an organization's decision about where to place a writer in a product development cycle can indicate the value the organization places on the writer, and in some central ways, on the user. So, for instance, if writers are placed at the end of the design cycle, if they are brought in at the final stages of production to write documentation about what already exists, their ability to represent users—to suggest changes or ask questions about the developing product—is significantly limited. They easily become information-movers or proofreaders, and while correct grammar, unified syntax, and precise word choice in documentation all contribute to a product's success, they do not necessarily make the product more accessible to customers generally. If, on the other hand, writers are part of planning from the start o the production cycle, they are in a position to span boundaries among subject area experts and users. Rather than simply passing information among groups, they can participate in the design of the new product as user advocates, anticipating user needs, questions, and concerns and relaying them to developers. As they work to adapt the developing technology to users, they thus "make sense out of information as it gets disseminated" (Harrison and Debs 11).
However, companies are often reluctant to bring writers in early, in part because of cost, in part because the expertise of subject area specialists is often assumed to be sufficient to address user needs. The problem here is that while the specialists may have sufficient information, they are often are unable to accommodate it to the needs of those who will actually use it. The unfortunate result is less useable documentation for users and a kind of organizational class bias directed at writers. Specifically, the writers may be perceived as "doing their magic" to make a document "look good" or as "scribes," merely copying what others give them. In Billie and Virginia's experiences, the organizational class bias was compounded by gender bias because both reported that women who are professional writers are frequently perceived as serving other employees' clerical needs. Certainly this was the case in the organizations where these two women worked.
Both women realized that they had to construct their own authority in their respective workplaces or remain at the whim of such biases. Both had been introduced to rhetorical problem solving in the graduate program they had recently completed. Both had used problem solving often as a checklist. Now, quite independently of each other and with very different strategies in mind, Billie and Virginia made plans to use it to secure professional respect, as well as to accomplish the writing projects they saw themselves setting out to do. And, although neither had been introduced to rhetoric's intellectual counterpart, metis, it, too, played a role in what happened.