An Interlude on Writing and Technology

"As long as we think we do not have enough expertise to engage in substantive discussions about technology, we are effectively prevented from having an impact on the directions it may take. But there are opportunities for discussion and intervention in the process of technological growth and change, and it is important to take advantage of them. We believe that the lack of broad participation in conversations about technology seriously impoverishes the ways technologies are brought into our everyday lives. Our aim is to show how more people can be more fully engaged in important discussions and decisions about technology."

[. . .]

"We have noticed that people seem to distance themselves from critical evaluation of the technologies in their lives, as if these technologies were inevitable forces of nature rather than things we design and choose."

Nardi and O'Day, 1999, p. 13-14

Indeed, our expertise in engaging substantive discussions about technology is tied directly to rhetorical action in and through our literate practices. Our most pervasive technologies are "technolog[ies] of words" (Haas, 1996). Rhetorical action and technology are so tightly imbricated as to be nearly impossible to parse. Our literate practices, therefore, implicitly link us to our technologies.

"Technology and writing are not distinct phenomena; that is, writing has never been and cannot be separate from technology. ... To go further, writing is technology, for without the crayon or the stylus or the Powerbook, writing is simply not writing. Technology has always been implicated in writing: In a very real way, verbal behavior without technological tools is not, and cannot be, writing."

Haas, 1996, p. x-xi

Our expertise, therefore, is carried and enacted in large measure through rhetorical action, through literate practice.


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