Current Projects

Forthcoming and in progress publications, while diverse in their focus, all center how digital, social, and human infrastructures support collaborative work to address complex problems.

Carlson, E. B., McMullin, M., & Sullivan, P.  (in press). <Ex>Tending archives: Digital archival practices and making the work of technical communicators visible to students. In Graban, T., & Hayden, W. (Eds.), Teaching Rhetoric and Composition Through the Archives. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Keywords: Archival practices, technical communication, pedagogy, project management, information architecture

This chapter argues that archival practices should be explicitly discussed and taught in technical communication courses; we further contend that digital archives should be presented as interactive platforms with material implications for their creators and users, rather than as mere containers of artifacts. This dynamic and digitally rich approach to teaching archival practice allows students to make connections between project management, information architecture, data storage, and retrieval, as well as the rhetorical, ethical and inventive choices they make in technical communication. We offer a heuristic–Adopt-Adapt-Create–and share examples of how to use the matrix to teach archival practice in technical communication classes. 

Hibbard, L., & McMullin, M. (accepted). The fandom rushes in: Multiplicity and the evolution of inclusive storytelling, through fan participation. In Grouling, J. & Hedge, S.The Adventure Zone. Transmedia storytelling, tabletop roleplaying, and Fandom. North Carolina: McFarland and Co.

Key words: Actual play, collaborative storytelling. Ontology, fandom, gender, worldbuilding, public rhetoric

My newest research project engages collaborative networks, digital infrastructure, and community building by examining how actual play podcasts that build collaborative stories through role-playing games interact with their listeners. Participatory game play can help to create spaces for representation of marginalized groups, and help to facilitate conversation and education in ways that are often difficult to imagine in our everyday experience. Our research examines how fan created art, interactions on social media, and community building at live shows have helped The Adventure Zone (TAZ) creators develop more inclusive narratives, and have also helped them to educate, and be educated by a diverse and highly engaged fandom. By considering how gay, trans, and characters with other traditionally marginalized identities develop within the TAZ universe, and by examining the ways that the creators both embrace fan-created representations, and share publicly about their own learning and decision making as they negotiate the pitfalls of telling stories with marginalized characters from a position of (white, cishet, male) privilege we are exploring how participatory world building creates space for a multiplicity of voices, visions, and representations that makes fans feel more seen and heard.

McMullin, M., Craig, S., Wang, Z., & Dilger, B. (2018). Constructive Distributed Work: Sustainable collaboration and research for distributed teams. Manuscript in preparation.

Keywords: distributed work, collaboration, digital infrastructure, interdisciplinary research, technical communication

Technical communication has extensively theorized and studied distributed work, but the sites of that research focus on industry and commerce. We argue that academic research teams need to consider how their operations are increasingly distributed work, especially given the value placed on inter-institutional and inter-disciplinary collaborations, and the increasingly contingent nature of both labor and research support. Our research team focuses on a practice we call “constructive distributed work,” which we present as an approach to ensuring sustainability and minimizing the impacts of the disconnects, bottlenecks, and miscommunications often documented in scholarship. In this article we share some of those practices, then call for more research which investigates how distributed work is actualized in academic collaboration, especially for inter-institutional and interdisciplinary teams.

McMullin, M. (2018). Improving methods for sustained collaborative response to complex problems. Manuscript in preparation.

Keywords: infrastructure, cooperation, research methods, boundary objects, public rhetoric

I use documents such as news stories, press releases and health department guidelines to analyze the trajectory of syringe exchange policies in Indiana as they move from situated decision-making and emergency response to statewide policy. By using the results of this qualitative analysis as a conversation guide for interviews with public health practitioners and scholars in related fields, I consider differences in language, discursive practice, and methods for operationalizing knowledge. By combining the situated analysis of public documents (Johnson 2018; Clarke 2005) with assemblage mapping (Angeli, 2018) I demonstrate how scholars and practitioners can work more closely and communicate more effectively with interdisciplinary and diverse audiences, contributing to our ongoing disciplinary commitment to critical scholarship that builds better communities.