Mind the Tech

- Or How To Properly Acknowledge Your Tech -

“Once [technology] becomes ‘woven into the fabric of daily life’ every once-new technology seems natural, and therefore somehow ‘inevitable,’ and it becomes tough to imagine living in the world without it.”

-Jodi Shipka

We’re back, ladies and gents, to talking about technologies and how they impact writing. Specifically, I would like to focus on the fact that we don’t really ‘see’ the technologies we take for granted, and how lecture-like this post is sounding.

Let’s change that.

So, while struggling perusing through Jodi Shipka’s book, Toward a Composition Made Whole, I was struck by the above quote. Do we really not notice the technologies we use once they become common place? Certainly, it does become harder to imagine a world without, say, desktop computers. But how can we not be fully aware of the technology we use and how it limits or improves the way we work?

Shipka provides a compelling example to back this statement up: If you were to call one of your friends, you likely would simply describe the event as “I called up El and screamed about space for an hour” (well, maybe not that dramatic, but, hey). You would not sit down and list out the reasons that call was made possible. For example, you likely would not say, “Thanks to electricity, phone lines, cables, a dial tone, ring tones,a numbered key pad, etc., coupled with the fact that the person I was calling and I are both fluent in the English language…” and both have an appreciation for space and functional knowledge of it’s basic structure, as well as both being invested in space, I was able to call El and scream about space for an hour.

So, quite literally, you would gel over the fact that electricity and technologies that go into phones helped you accomplish a task. In that sense, I do believe that we have a tendency to forget about the role of technology in our day to day lives. I do think it’s important to realize this, and maybe spend some time thinking about how each technology we take for granted affect our ability to function in the world we live in. I also agree with Shipka’s observation that, were we to take the time to think about how we use technology, and how it affects not only our writing, but how our bodies are involved in our writing, it can help us imagine new ways of thinking about ‘texts.’

There is one thing I disagree with, however, and that is the idea that technology completely fades into the background. Now, I am speaking mostly about writing ‘tools’ – pens, paper, word processors, mobile devices – and not the things that power them, so perhaps my idea is a tad limited. But I feel as though I am constantly reminded of how technology influences my writing. When I write with pen and paper, I am always aware that my chosen tool is slower and less precise than my word processor. When working with Microsoft Word (and, therefore, procrastinating on the internet), I feel as if I can’t write anything and am wasting my time. Perhaps I do not notice the tool itself, but I do recognize it’s effects; I think everyone, in some way, recognizes the effects of a tools they use when producing texts. Or, perhaps, I am simply optimistic about the amount I think about the technology in my life in relation to how others think about their own tools.