Responses to Accessibility

Having finished this week’s readings, I was impressed by Kerschbaum’s critiques on multimodality inhospitality. With the progress of technology, we pursue multimodality in the designs of software and website; however, multichannel will confuse disabilities. Multimodality is like a double-edged sword: on one hand, the multimodality offers multiple ways of inquiring information; on the other hand, some information channels are not friendly to the ones can’t access easily. To solve this problem, I think first we need to offer enough channels for the users to pick up. Such as mentioned in the article, instructors may think about offering multiple formats of assignments, oral, picture or paper-pencil. Second, different channels will offers the same content. In other words, audio/ video/ graphic contents should include the same information as the text contents.

The principles of Accessibility from W3C is much detailed. In order to get these principles in a product, designers and developers of software, hardware and some scholars in the studies of Digital Media or Natural Language Processing will work together. And a usability test facing the disabilities should be adopted.

I have to admit that the status of accessibility are not that good compared with the U.S. Chinese Government did release some principles for accessibility but few websites follow that principle. Researches related to accessibility are not common inside China. But the condition of the web accessibility keeps improving. Government is proposing an accessible improvement among .gov websites. Conferences on the topic of accessibility are blooming. Some public service activities are in progress as well.

The Convergence Of Technology

In his “The Black Box Fallacy” section, Jenkins distinguished two concepts:

Delivery technologies: the tools we use to access media content (13).

Media: the medium to carrying the content and the “protocols” or “social and cultural practices” associated with the media content (14).

Jenkins claims that “old media are not being displaced. Rather, their functions and status are shifted by the introduction of new technologies”(14). Thus, all media content is going to flow through a single black boxes we carry around with us everywhere we go. The black box will reign supreme; however, Part of what makes the black box concept a fallacy is that it reduces media change to technological change and stripe aside the cultural levels we are considering here(15). I can’t anticipate the black box fallacy is right or wrong, but I think the process of convergence does influence human’s writing and reading process.

Do we experience the convergence of culture, media and technology? The new products from the high technological company seem to illustrate this process.

“What we are now seeing is the hardware diverging while the content converges”(Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 15).” We can say, the contents are still there, but the delivery technologies are converging.

On October16, Apple released its new operational system Yosemite. This software is free in apple store and my computer upgraded the software as soon as it is available in the app store. The most obvious changes I noticed first are the visual changes: the icon is flatter, more modern emphasizes translucency. The 3D effect disappears and the icons are flattened on the screen. Somebody said that the flatter icons were designed for consisting with the operational system of other devices (iphone, ipad.) I think the first level of the interface convergence will be the consistence among different devices, such as OS X and iOS8, Windows and Windows Phone, Android and Chrome. The second level of interface convergence is reflected in the abstraction of the desktop. As Jenkins said, the old media are not being displaced. All the items on the desk are not dead, in contrast, they reborn on the computer desktop. The evolution of the icons well illustrates this process. The designers want to make the icon as real as possible in the previous operational systems, but with the progress of convergence, the icons now are highly abstract.

Even though convergence is in progress, so what? Jenkins calls for a media literacy, which facilitate people to cope with the convergence of the media and to get used to this new technology as well.

Response to Selfe’s Aurality: the Function of Composition Class

Selfe’s piece is comprehensive and informative. By reviewing the history of English Department and the composition class, Selfe describes how the social value and ideology forms the dominant position of writing instead of speaking. And she argues the composition instructors should encourage the students to adopt multiple ways “in which students compose and communicate meaning, the exciting hybrid, multimodal texts they create—in both nondigital and digital environments. ”

Since I really like Selfe’s piece, I google her name and find another article: Doug Hesse’s response to Selfe’s paper. His response also published on the CCC. I think it’s also thought provoking. My classmates who have interest in the discussion on aurality composition can read it.

So I will focus my response on both articles: Selfe’s Aurality and Hesse’s Response.

I want to continue my last week discussion on the pragmatical function of composition class. In Hesse’s article, he lists several interests that the composition class serves: “those of the academy, those of the workplace, and those of the polis, with an occasional fourth and fifth: those of the individual, including in social relationship, and those of discourse, especially in aesthetic production”(Hesse, 604). However, I think these functions are not isolated but connected. For academy and for the workplace can be seen as the lower requirement of education; however, this process is accompany with the self improvement and refinement.

As for this week’s reading, I think Selfe’s argument perfectly explained the function of a composition class. I would like to list a quotation which I think is fascinating:

I would argue that the primary work of any classroom is to help students use semiotic resources to think critically, to explore, and to solve problems. In composition classes, this means helping students work through communicative problems—analyzing a range of rhetorical tasks and contexts (online, in print contexts, and face to face); deploying a range of assets (both digital and nondigital) effectively and responsibly; and making meaning for a range of purposes, audiences, and information sets (644)”.

Work Cited:

Hesse, Doug. “Response to Cynthia L. Selfe’s‘The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing.’” College Composition and Communication 61.3 (2010): 602–605. Print.

Weekly Response-Visual Rhetoric

Response to George: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing

When I read George’s paper, I was trying to find some notions/ researches during the past 60 years in regard of the benefits students get from the emphasis on the visual rhetoric in classroom. But only few researches mentioned “what did student get through the practice of visual rhetoric.”

Here are some quotations which may be taken as the advantage of visual rhetoric: The visual assignment is especially good “for students who are visually but necessarily verbally sensitive”(21).  But George’s conclusion is accurate:” Certainly,there is the message in much of this work that images may be useful, even proper stimuli for writing, but they are no substitute for the complexity of language”(22).

I am quite agree with the standpoint of George: we are fascinated by the concept of visual rhetoric. My question is: are we lost in the myth of a pragmatic function of visual rhetoric? I think we need to discuss this question from the perspective of the function of the composition class. Since My philosophy on teaching is pragmatism, I would admit that I prefer to teach the skills and method most useful for the student. General students other than the students majors in art or design have rare demand in visual rhetoric.The furthest boundary I could image students will face in their future job associates with visual rhetoric are making presentation with powerpoint, using the visual gram or picture to express their notions, even designing their personal website. On the contrary, writing a proposal, a research paper, a report even a letter still requires a lot of text work. I don’t imply that the visual rhetoric is out of significance, but I think writing an essay still takes the most portion of people’s daily work and life.

I think some quotations are inspiring:
“Compositionists pay attention to ‘visual thinking’ as one way of understanding the written word”(24).
Wysocki writes, “When we ask people in our classes to write for the Web we enlarge what we mean by composition”(27)

Week 6 Interfaces Response

Nicholas C. Burbules, “The Web as a rhetorical place.” Silicon Literacies, Ilana Snyder, ed. (London: Routledge, 2002), 75-84. 

Burbules proposes five features of the hyperlinks that currently operates the world wide web:

1. Links are bi-directional;  2. Hyperlinks are point- to point link; 3.Hyperlinks are static; 4. The links are author-driven; 5. “There are different ways in which a hyperlink, and the content of the link, can be represented.”

Response: when I notice this paper was published in 2002, I understand the features that Burbules proposed. Although these features still exist,  some new features have emerged with the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. (Web 2.0 was first mentioned in 2004) Wikipedia was launched in 2001, which I think is the most representative product of the Web 2.0.  With the social media blooming, the collaborating and sharing function became the current trend of a website. The third, fourth and the last feature can be slightly altered: now the hyperlinks can be added not only by the authors but also by the users. And this feature means the hyperlinks are not as close and static before. The hyperlinks are becoming open and fluid. Every network users can add links as their like, and vote to delete or alter certain contents/ links. As for the last feature, except for the text links, the picture as a hyperlink is common as well.

However, I think Burbules’s other discussions on the hyperlinks is still illuminating. He describes the webpages as a rhetorical place rather than a stable space. A place where the users utilize it as a more private, individualized space which can share easily among online communities. Burbules just describes the Web 2.0 features before the concept of Web 2.o firstly proposed. Burbules’s notion of “rhetorical place” makes the studies of interfaces and the interactions among users became eligible in the scope of rhetorical  investigate. Is there any possibility that the interactions became more deeper than Web 2.0?

Selfe, Cynthia L., and Richard J. Selfe Jr. “The Politics of the Interface: Power and Its Exercise in Electronic Contact Zones.” College Composition and Communication 45.4 (1994): 480–504. 

Selfe& Selfe went further step than Burbules did on the issue of interface. Burbules takes the web as a rhetorical space, which the interactions between the author and the user. The rhetorical space is also my understanding on interfaces;on the other hand, Selfe& Selfe take the interfaces as the linguistic contact zone, in which the interfaces present layers of culture and ideology. Selfe and Selfe’s arguments proved one thing from the perspectives of rhetoric, that the interfaces of computer is as maps of Capitalism and class privilege, race, discursive power,Rationalism and Logocentric privilege.

But interestingly, as a student whose native language is not English, I didn’t feel any uncomfortable with the fact that the interfaces is English privileged. If we want communicate with others all over the world, a standard should be set. Since Americans or the white middle class have privilege on economy, or have outstanding  political structure, they have the discursive power to set a standard. What the minorities should do is just keeping their own culture and trying to take the discursive power by developing their social economic status and the educational level.

“White Flight” Through the Lens of Culture Study? Rhetorical Study?

Danah Boyd discusses the way of engagement with MySpace and Facebook of American teen. By analyzing the data from four years of ethnographic fieldwork, Boyd investigates the social divisions of the digital social network through the lens of culture study, sociology and rhetoric.

According to Boyd’s research, at the beginning, MySpace attracts teens through bands and the family members, whereas after being bought by News Corporation, MySpace was filled with teen participants and the potential dangerous emerged (7). On the contrary, Facebook targets the customers as college students and accepts the registration of high school students gradually. As soon as Facebook accepts the teens, the division begins: “teens from less-privileged backgrounds seemed likely to be drawn to MySpace while those headed towards elite universities appeared to be head towards Facebook “(9). Some marketing research firms and some scholars also support her observation.

Boyd tries to explain the divisions on the social network. She discusses the social categories in the school and suggests the labels come from some stereotypes and connect to the race and class. But teens don’t have a very clear mind in dividing the races and classes. The division of race and class only identifies through the skin color and the physical space in the eyes of the teens. And online social networks are often organized by identity and social categories.

Tastes, aesthetics, patterns of consumptions and fashion are strong connected to the class distinctions. Boyd takes the online profiles as a form of digital fashion, which reflects the taste, identity and values. Facebook stresses the simple and clean layouts and design and it is coincide in the middle class’s taste whereas MySpace prefers more complex layouts, which serve as a source of pride and authenticity. The philosophy of MySpace is more like less-privileged class. Students choose to leave MySpace to Facebook.

In her conclusion, Boyd draws analogy of “white flight” to explain the networked movement from MySpace to Facebook. I think this analogy “digital white flight” is the most innovative idea for this research. Actually the reason of “digital white flight” is the same as the physical “white flight”——the division of class.

I like this article because Boyd uses theories of culture studies to explain a phenomenon of digital media. It is amazing to me because I didn’t know the “subculture” theory before. Adopting culture theory to explain the rhetorical phenomenon is a good choice; however, on the other hand, I can’t see any rhetorical theory applied in this paper. And the research object is another question for me: is the “digital white flight” as a rhetorical question which needs discussion in our field? In that case, what’s boundary of the research in the digital media. Since we can use culture studies, sociology theories or communication theories to explain the research question perfectly. The research overlap of digital media among different fields is a challenge, or a chance to rhetorical guys?