NWS Wants Your Comments on a Proposed Alternative to Simplify Winter Hazard Headlines

Here is an opportunity for technical communicators and usability experts to help improve weather-related public service announcements by the National Weather Service (NWS): "NWS Wants Your Comments on a Proposed Alternative to Simplify Winter Hazard Headlines" with a PowerPoint audiocast demonstration.  Updated

The National Weather Service (NWS) uses the terms Watch, Warning and Advisory (WWA) to describe how likely we believe a weather or flooding event is, how bad we think the associated impacts will be, and when the impacts will occur. Results from surveys, service assessments and feedback from some of our partners indicate many people may not fully understand what these terms mean or how to properly respond to stay safe and protect property. The public may also be confused on the distinction between WWA headlines for specific hazards, called hazard products. Examples of similar sounding hazard products include Winter Storm Warning, Winter Storm Watch, and Winter Weather Advisory.

In support of our Weather-Ready Nation initiative, NWS wants to start a conversation on how we might simplify and clarify our products. For this demonstration, we are proposing an alternative way to express headlines within our hazard messages, with winter hazard messages as a focus. If you have other ideas for simplifying and clarifying these messages, we want to hear them.

This demonstration, which will run through March 31, 2013, will provide you with the opportunity to compare headline text from a shortened version of our official WWA messages for winter weather hazards with a proposed alternative. These alternative messages are being created at selected locations (see map below) for demonstration purposes only. Also, the alternative messages will only be accessible via this Web page and via special links from the NWS Home Page and the Home Pages of participating NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). These messages are not being disseminated. All official NWS winter weather hazard messages will be disseminated as usual, including all computer-readable header information, e.g., Valid Time Event Code (VTEC). For more information, see the official Product Description Document (.pdf).

NWS is demonstrating this proposed alternative approach to hazard message simplification at 26 NWS WFOs this winter. For these sites, we are creating a side-by-side display to allow you to compare our current official headline text with proposed alternative text. These displays will be created continuously in real time based on our official products; however, these displays are being created for demonstration purposes only. We will continue to produce and disseminate all our official WWA products per current policy.

Our team has worked to translate every combination of winter WWA products that we could identify from our records. You can access the Translation Guide here for reference. We will continually monitor and, if necessary, add to the guide during the demonstration.

Based on an analysis of your comments, we will work with our partners and social scientists to determine next steps. If there is support for a simplified approach to winter hazards messaging, NWS will refine the concept based on the comments we receive. We also will work with our partners to determine the best way for their systems to ingest and process information contained in the new message formats.

Comment Now!

Please share your opinions on the overall hazard simplification concept via our standard survey form, used by NWS for all experimental products. For this demonstration, please focus on the following questions:

Question 3: Let us know what you like about the proposed alternative

Question 4: Let us know what you do not like about the proposed alternative

Question 9: Comment on the current WWA system and suggest alternatives to this proposal

Thanks for completing this short survey.

To ask general questions about this demonstration, or share comments about a specific dated WFO message, please email the team at email hidden; JavaScript is required. We will answer as many questions as possible, depending on volume, and will add responses to frequently asked questions to the FAQ section.

Feel free to reply more than once as you review multiple products during the demonstration.

Illustrious Panel Lineup for our January 20th Event

RESCHEDULED TO JAN 20th

Plan to join us at Guapo’s (Fiesta Room) in Bethesda for a lively, enlightening discussion with six academics from four area universities who teach in the field of technical communication. As you can see from their bios, they are involved in tech comm from a variety of perspectives and are sure to make for an evening well spent.

Please register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tech-comm-in-academia-a-panel-of-local-tech-comm-teachers-tickets-1113521573.

This event is being sponsored in part by Web First: Real Solutions for a Virtual World.

PANELISTS:

From George Mason University, Dept. of Writing

Prof. Doug Eyman, Ph.D.

Douglas Eyman, Senior Editor of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, is an assistant professor of English at George Mason University, where he teaches in the professional writing and rhetoric program. His dissertation, Digital Rhetoric: Ecologies and Economies of Digital Circulation (Michigan State University), received the 2007 Computers and Composition Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award. At GMU, Doug teaches courses in Technical Communication, Web Design, Professional Writing, and Digital Rhetoric. His current research interests include digital rhetoric theory, method and practice; investigations of digital literacy acquisition and development; new media scholarship and electronic publication; information design/information architecture; teaching in digital environments and massive multiplayer online role playing games as sites of composition. Recent publications include articles in Technical Communication and Computers and Composition, and chapters in The Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and New Business Practices (IGI, 2008) and Rhetorically Rethinking Usability (Hampton Press, 2008).

Prof. Susan Lawrence, Ph.D.

Susan Lawrence is Assistant Professor of English at George Mason University, where her department offers an M.A. in English with a concentration in Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), and a B.A. in English with a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric. Her research focuses on the intersections of public and professional writing. She teaches graduate courses in professional writing, research methods, and discourse analysis, as well as the PWR capstone project course. She has directed undergraduate internships and teaches undergraduate courses in professional and technical writing.

From University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Prof. Paul Jaeger, Ph.D., J.D.

Paul T. Jaeger is Assistant Professor, Director of Center for Information Policy and Electronic Government, and Associate Director of the Center for Library & Information Innovation in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. He serves as the Associate Editor of Library Quarterly. Dr. Jaeger’s research focuses on the ways in which law and policy shape information behavior. He is the author of more than ninety journal articles and book chapters, along with six books. His most recent books are Information Worlds: Social Context, Technology, & Information Behavior in the Age of the Internet (Routledge, 2010) with Gary Burnett, and Public Libraries and the Internet: Roles, Perspectives, and Implications (Libraries Unlimited, 2011) with John Carlo Bertot and Charles R. McClure. His research has been funded by the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the National Science Foundation, the American Library Association, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

From University of Maryland Baltimore County, Media and Communications Studies

Prof. Donald Snyder, Ph.D.

Donald Snyder is the internship coordinator and a full-time lecturer in Media and Communication Studies at UMBC. His dissertation was Building the Virtual World: Software, Beta Testing, and the Birth and Death of The Sims Online (defended July 2009). His professional publications include the article “I Don’t Go By Sean Patrick: Online, Offline, Out Identity and SeanPatrickLive.com” in the International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, Special Issue entitled “Queer Webs: Representations of LGBT People and Communities on the World Wide Web” (Vol. 7, Nos. 2 & 3, April/May 2002), the chapter “Life on Your Screen: Webcam Women” in Web.Studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital Age (Ed. David Gauntlett, Arnold/Oxford University Press, October 2000), and numerous professional presentations.

From University of Maryland University College, Dept. of Communication Studies and Professional Writing

Prof. Connie Balcher, M.A.

Connie Balcher has an M.A. in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Linguistics from Columbia University. She is currently teaching technical writing at University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland University College. In 2004, she founded Triple Crown Communications, LLC, providing writing training programs to the government and private sector.

Prof. Michelle Didier, M.A. , M.Ed.

Michelle Didier, adjunct associate professor, is a consultant in the information technology profession. She has developed technical documentation for the medical, scientific, financial services, real estate and telecommunications industries and state and federal government. She holds an M.Ed. from George Mason University, an M.A. in English with a Specialization in Technical Writing from Bowling Green State University, and both a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Toledo.