WRD320: Writing for Digital Media Rotating Header Image

Text and Context

Notes for Monday, 1/21

Happy MLK Day!

HTML: Day One

Pre-digital writing: typewriters

 After our cuneiform composing and baking:




Phenomenological approaches to reading digital media

Anne Wysocki provides us with two important and productive tools that we can use in our explorations of how people read digital media:

First, she applies the reading concept that we discussed in class on Monday — Phenomenology:

To indicate the differences between the two pieces of multimedia, I focus on several screens from the CDs where the pieces address similar topics, to get at how the CD’s makers have used visual strategies to create their assertions about relations between artists, collectors, and artworks. Using what would perhaps best be called a phenomenological approach to describe how I understand and respond to what is on the screens before me, I write about the openings and about the screens designed to help me move through the art of the collections; I am also going to write about the screens that present me biographies of the artists. I then write about the overall visual structure of the two CDs, in order finally to write about how these CDs “see” us, their “readers … ”

… By phenomenological approach, I mean that I am trying to reflect on my experience of moving through these CDs at the same time that I move through them.

She then attempts several schematic drawings of the media she is analyzing:


Wysocki, Anne Frances. “Impossibly distinct: On form/content and word/image in two pieces of computer-based interactive multimedia.”

Welcome to Writing for Digital Media

“Once you get into the flow of things, you’re always haunted by the way that things could have turned out. This outcome, that conclusion. You get my drift. The uncertainty is what holds the story together, and that’s what I’m going to talk about.” — Paul D. Miller, Rhythm Science

The increasingly widespread use of digital-media texts — and how they are composed, who composes them, how they get distributed, what they are composed of — gives us an opportunity to think about writers’ relationships with those texts and with the readers who read them.

In this course, we will practice composing and designing digital texts while asking a series of questions that should help us think about what kinds of relationships we want to have with texts and readers:

  • Why and how do readers read?
  • Does our attention to audience, context, and purpose change when composing in digital environments?
  • What can the materiality — the material product of a culture — of digital texts tell us?
  • How does composing in different technologies shape our composing processes?
  • What is the relationship between coding and content?

Notice how each of those questions positions texts not just alphabetically, but also graphically and visually. This is a good thing because our course also encourages us, as both writers and readers, to take the time for looking and seeing — for paying attention to aesthetic and rhetorical meaning-making capabilities in writing for digital media.

While we work with some basic HTML, HTML editors, and image-editing programs, no previous technology or coding experience is assumed or required.