Writing in Digital Environments

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Don’t Get eSchmoozed! and Videos


  1. Discussion of Ball and Rice’s “Remediating the Text: Reading Multimodal Texts”
  2. Videos: Audience, Purpose, and Context!
  3. Have a Great Mini-Break (no class on Thursday or Tuesday)!

Remediating the Text: Reading Multimodal Texts

Cheryl Ball’s main contribution to this webtext is to provide us with a readerly analysis of a student-produced video (see Designerly ≠ Readerly). The video was produced as part of one of Ball’s advanced composition courses, one that focuses on new media production.  Her analysis is done with an eye toward the analysis and grading a teacher needs to do for such a project. She explains that the student’s intentions (why she did what she did in the video) were just as important as the overall success of the final product.

Rich Rice’s main contribution was to warn teachers about the dangers of eSchmoozery. That is, getting wowed by the visual and aural flashiness of something like a video. He contends this can happen to English teachers and other untrained consumers of visual texts. He also makes the bold claim that all rhetoric is schmoozery:

Schmoozing is rhetoric, and we teach schmoozing textually by playing to an audiences’ needs. Format your paper this way, because it’s a convention that your audience recognizes. Appeal to your readers’ sense of emotion, logic, and authority, in this and this combination. Rhetoric is organized schmoozery. It’s a good thing. But not knowing the conventions or understanding or reflecting over why such rhetoric is valuable is a bad thing. Students who use presentation or form to schmooze the audience, but do not themselves understand the rhetorical affect or even why they’re presenting what they’re presenting, limit their opportunity to learn. (Rice & Ball, full commentary)

He then goes on to argue that new media texts are fundamentally different—a the level of design—than traditional written, print-based texts, especially in the way they incorporate information:

It becomes difficult to separate and distinguish the layers of work we’ve read. That is, Smith, Hocks, Whithaus, Kress, Sirc, Wysockie, the Selfes–their work both inspires and defines mine. My pedagogy is in many ways determined by their own. Perhaps the literature review is a way of attempting to define the boundaries between their ideas and my ideas. That’s what quoting does. But, it’s a false distinction. If we’re to accurately cite the works that inform our work, we would need to include the Library of Congress or some other massive database. This seems to me to be a significant difference between the presentations my students give and the texts they compose. Their presentations embrace others’ information by layering and integrating them in. The term “voice over,” in fact, describes a strategy for layering something that provides ethos. What we’re reading here are voice books or face books or myspaces or networks of layered information that provide valuable yet holistic impressions. Somehow what makes media texts engaging is their ability to interact with the audience in different ways. We’re moving into the interactive Web era. Who are the cool new people, rather than who are the previous cool people. Texts call attention to references by distinguishing them rather than layering them. Is providing ten impressions different than providing ten sources? Are impressions without referencing a form of identity theft or plagiarism?

What is for sure is that the same content in different modes can not be assessed in the same way. The tools themselves change what makes them effective. Logic and authority is what makes text in composition more effective, generally, whereas pathos is king in media texts. (Rice & Ball, full commentary)

So, here are the questions we are left with for today:

  1. what does Rich Rice say we need to know about visual composition in order to not get eSchmoozed? What might we add to his assessment?
  2. what is an appropriate use of new media production in a composition course and how should such student work be evaluated by the instructor (see the list from the webtext below)?

In his commentary, Rich Rice lists the criteria that composition instructors came up with for evaluating new media compositions (see below). Do you think these criteria are appropriate? What would you revise, add, or delete and why?

  • Is there a purpose? Does the text meet its purpose? Is it within the intended genre(s)?
  • Does the metaphor “flow” together and provide a single effect? Move the reader?
  • Does the composition sell the audience?
  • What are the transitions?
  • Does the text evoke ideas or provoke ideas?
  • Are its rhetorical choices purposeful?
  • Intentions…are they critical?
  • Is the media synchronous?
  • Does the composition meet the goals for the course?
  • Does the project transfer?
  • Does it help develop traditional forms of literacy (ironically)?


As we watch the videos, pay attention to all of the aspects going on: images, music/sounds, voice-overs, alphabetic texts, gestural, etc. from our discussions about multimodality. Also, take into consideration the classical rhetorical appeals (logos, ethos, and pathos) along with our discussions about Purpose, Audience, and Context.

Lurpak Cook’s Range

I Will What I Want

Mercator Insurance

Pepsi Co


Coca Cola

Second a Day

Pemco Insurance


Dirt Devil



Research Journal #2 (due tonight by midnight!)

Just a reminder, no class on Thursday, Oct. 13 for English Dept. Reading Days! And now, new and improved–No class on Tuesday, Oct. 18 for a writing and catching up day!

Due Thursday (Oct. 13):

Blog Post #5 due by midnight
Begin thinking about your 4th page (see 4th page directions on web page assignment) due Nov. 15

Due Tuesday Thursday(Oct., 20 when we return from our mini-break):

Read: McKee, “Sound Matters: Notes toward the analysis and design of sound in multimodal webtexts
Here are links to the multimedia examples in McKee’s article:
Breathing/Secret of Roe
Winter Lyric
New York City: After the Fall
Sound Poems

Listen to this: Morality


Web 2.0, Intro. to Rhetoric, and Sherman Activity

Keep calm, you're going to do fine this semester. Everything is all right.

Welcome back! You’ve made it to day two of class. 😉

We have a lot to do today, so let’s get to it.

Web 2.0 (10 minutes)
First, we need to answer this question: what is Web 2.0 and what does it have to do with the work we will be doing this semester? The video we watched last time by anthropology professor Michael Wesch will help us answer it. Go to Canvas and answer the question (WTL #1) posted there. We will often have a Write to Learn (WTL) to open the class so get in the habit of checing there at the beginning of class.

Rhetorical Situations and Design Plans (15 minutes)
Let’s start by using Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman’s post game interview to review some of the rhetorical terminology that you will read about for homework.

  • What is the purpose of the post game interview?
  • Who is the audience for such interviews?
  • What are the conventions of the post game interview genre?
  • How did Sherman break those?
  • What is the social context in which his interview is being judged?

These are the kinds of questions you need to answer when analyzing or composing a text according to the Design Plan Approach to Production and Analysis. You will use this approach when crafting your semester-long Design Plans next week (due Tuesday, Sept. 6).

Homework assigned:

What is the Connection Economy?
Read: The Five Canon’s of Classical Rhetoric
Read: The Design Plan approach to production and analysis
Read: Seth Godin’s Six Assets that Matter in the Connection Economy
Begin thinking about your own Design Plan. Be sure you understand the directions of the assignment and read through its corresponding links.
Writing : Respond to a classmate’s Canvas Discussion forum post. Find your response to the question “What role does the web play in your daily life?” and respond to the person whose response is immediately below yours. If you are last, respond to the first person listed.

First Day’s Class and HW in Canvas

John Lennon quote


This class is designed to be different from any other high school or college writing class you have taken. The objective is not to write in order to prove to a teacher that you have learned the course material or that you have learned to write an academic essay or research paper—those are genres of writing that only exist in school and you will not be in school forever (thank goodness). The objective is for you to figure out what you want to do with your life and learn how writing can help you achieve your goals. And I hope you will not confuse means goals with end goals. That is, if your goal is to be happy (an end goal) and you confuse that with being a doctor or an engineer (a means goal) then you might only care about getting an A so you can get into med or law school; however, if you know that what makes you happy is working to better society, then you might discover that writing can help you promote social causes that you care about and you might discover that being a doctor or lawyer is one of many ways to better society. (More on all this in a future class session.)

I want you to think of what you do in this class as art. That doesn’t mean you will be painting, sculpting, or dancing (unless you want to). For the purposes of this class, art is part of what is required to communicate in the new connection economy made possible by the Internet. Here is how Seth Godin defines it in his book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?:

Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn’t something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Most painters, it turns out, aren’t artists at all—they are safety-seeking copycats.

Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map—these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.

Speaking up when there’s no obvious right answer, making yourself vulnerable when it’s possible to put up shields, and caring about both the process and the outcome—these are works of art that our society embraces and the economy demands.

Furthermore, this class will be different than your other writing (journalism, composition, or other English classes) in that we are not just interested in what you are writing (and how you are composing) but why you are making the choices you do when writing. The why takes center stage and you will spend a lot of time articulating your choices to convince me and your classmates that your choices are sound and appropriate for your particular audience and the context in which you are working.

Today’s Agenda:

  1. Welcome & syllabus overview
  2. What is Web 2.0 and 3.0?

  1. Introductions
  2. Brief Tutorial of Canvas


Below is our first Canvas Discussion question. Post your answer there by class time Thursday. If you have problems, answer the question offline in Word and bring the file to class Thursday so that I can help you post it.

Write a 250-500 word post answering the question “What role does the web play in your daily life?” Think about how (smart phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) when, where (home, school, coffee shop), and why you access the web. What applications do you use (gmail, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and why? What would you like to do online that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet (start a YouTube channel for example)? What do you do online that you wish you didn’t have to (answer work email for example)?